St. Louis Blues: Could Alexander Steen Be The Next Captain?

While it is too early to be showing David Backes the door, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about the future. Recent developments have brought to light the idea that Backes might not be the only man fit to wear the C.

Not long after the season ended, some of the news began trickling in about some of the injuries the St. Louis Blues were dealing with. One was Scottie Upshall dealing with a broken thumb. After that it was learned that Alexander Steen had a shoulder injury.

Originally, the extent of the injury was not fully known. It was only said that it would likely require surgery. Little did we know the extent.

Steen apparently injured the shoulder way back on February 20 against the Arizona Coyotes. That means he’s been dealing with the pain and gutting out performances for three months before quietly having surgery in early June.

Steen didn’t score any regular season goals after the injury. He had five points in his remaining games. However he scored four goals and had 10 points in the playoffs.

Including playoff games, he’s been playing hurt for over 40 games. That’s half a season’s worth of games fighting through, showing the others how it’s done and still producing.

Even though he was hurt, he still scored in the playoffs and also defended.  He was regularly pitted against the top scoring lines of the Blackhawks and Stars.  That’s going up against the likes of Toews, Kane and Benn.

That’s quality leadership. That’s the kind of example the young players of the Blues need to follow.

In reality, Steen isn’t all that different from Backes. That’s both a positive and a negative.

The drawbacks of keeping David Backes are the price tag and his postseason failings in the past. Backes had never really stepped to the plate in the postseason the way he needed to. He had never had double digit points until the 2015-16 playoffs.

If we are fair, the same can also be said about Steen. He never had double digits in the playoffs until this past, but emerged as one of the players the Blues could lean on. He is currently getting paid more than Backes and might even earn more next season than Backes.

For the Blues, the bottom line may just be that Steen is going to be a member of the 2016-17 and Backes might not be.

Steen’s transformation has shown that the so called buy-in really has worked. His ability to change shows that he is ready to take on a leadership role in a public setting.

In only one season, he seems to have realized what it takes. After the 2014-15 season, Steen seemed to have a more petulant attitude. He seemed to be one of the problems, instead of a solution. Now that’s changed.

Blues fans seem to want Backes to return. There’s nothing wrong with that. He’s been a steady contributor during his time. He’s been a valued member of the community. He’s been the leader of this team.

Nobody wants to lose their captain. It is inevitable though. Nobody wanted Brett Hull to no longer be the captain. Nobody wanted Chris Pronger or even Eric Brewer to not wear the C any longer. Eventually someone else stepped in and took up the mantle.

Business will dictate whether Backes returns. If his time is up, then Steen has now proven he can bridge the gap.

Steen’s contract is up in 2017, so his time with the club could be growing short as well. Given that fact, giving him the captain’s C might not be the best idea either.

Regardless of who wears the C though, it’s good to know that there are players willing to put themselves on the line now. You can question the effort or the skill on some nights, but clearly you can’t question the heart.

Those are the examples the younger players need to see and need to follow. Those are the kinds of things you want to see in your leaders and Steen is clearly that now.

Steen’s injury is a big blow to him personally.  Although he was one of the first 16 players announced, his injury has now cost him a spot on Team Sweden for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.  It also might cost him training time too since he is likely to be out 4-6 months.

There is a very real possibility that when the 2016-17 season begins, the Blues will not have Backes, Steen, Troy Brouwer or Kevin Shattenkirk in the lineup.  Steen will still be a part of the team though and he will need to continue to show his leadership if that moment comes.

Give him the C or don’t. Bring Backes back or not.  Steen is going to be someone the players look to now, regardless.