Bill Laurie is known for gutting the Blues to try and make as much as he could when selling the team.
Ever since he sold the team it has struggled to make ends meet and has operated near the floor of the salary cap.
Even with St. Louis spending as little as possible over the past decade, they have still failed to turn a profit.
The question now is, are those days of the budget Blues over?
When a local ownership group put together the bid to buy the team last year, many were skeptical if they would be able to afford to keep the team in St. Louis let alone improve the roster.
With one season under his belt, Tom Stillman has made it clear that he is willing to spend the money to make the team a success.
At the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline, there was a lot of talk about the Blues around the league. While no players were sent packing at the time, Stillman instead gave St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong the green light to take on Jay Bouwmeester‘s massive contract.
Many Blues fans hoped that this sort of spending would continue as the offseason came around, but none really thought that it would be possible. If the team was going to improve, the thought process from the fans was that it was going to come by trade.
Instead, Stillman opened up his checkbook again and told Armstrong he could go after big name free agents. Armstrong did just that and while he missed out on a couple of big fish, he still landed a decent player in Derek Roy.
After the Blues signed Roy, Maxim Lapierre, Keith Aucoin, and locked up Patrik Berglund and Kevin Shattenkirk, the team had just over $8 million to resign Jake Allen, Alex Pietrangelo, and Chris Stewart.
With Petro looking to sign a deal around $7 million per season and Stewart demanding close to $6 million on the open market, the Blues look like they could be a team that actually needs to shed salary before the season.
Could this be true? Can the Blues really afford to operate like this? Are the days of the budget Blues over?
I wouldn’t get ahead of yourself here, but it looks like the new ownership group understands that you have to spend money to make money. The Blues are looking to become an elite team in the West and to do so need the players that can deliver.
With Armstrong struggling to stay within the 2013-14 cap, the Blues may just shed one of their veteran goalies to make it work, but they could also look to package a couple higher paid players to get a more skilled player in return. Either way, the team is spending at or near the cap to get Stewart and Pietrangelo signed on.
This reworked Blues team seems like that should be able to contend in the conference for years to come as well. Most of the core roster is 26 or younger the “veterans” that the Blues do have are still in their prime. There are no old-timers around the team that won’t be able to keep up with their game.
Armstrong is working in a very intelligent way as well. He knows that the cap for the 2014-15 will likely increase in a substantial way given the increased revenues that the NHL is seeing. This should allow him to keep the core of this team together for the next few years, as long as he likes what he sees.
So with Stillman spending money and Armstrong trying to catch the big fish, perhaps the days of the budget Blues are over. Let’s just hope these businessmen know what they are doing because if the team continues to lose money we might just be waiting to find out if the next ownership group will be as willing to pay salaries or even want to keep the team in the gateway city.
I truly believe that this group knows what they are doing, but, more importantly, want to bring the Stanley Cup to St. Louis.
More as we have it.
LET’S GO BLUES!