The St. Louis Blues are wasting little time filling out their coaching staff for 2017-18. Yesterday’s news made complete sense. Today’s, not as much.
When the St. Louis Blues named Darryl Sydor as an assistant coach, it made complete sense. The team needs a guy who played a more dynamic style from the blue line.
It was a sensible hire. Many felt it might have been coming anyway, but regardless of whether it was a surprise or not, it was a good move.
Now, the Blues have added one more piece to their coaching puzzle. A former player is rejoining the Blues as a coach and it was not a name anyone would have foreseen either.
Steve Ott will be rejoining the St. Louis Blues. This time it won’t be as a veteran presence. It will be as a guy on the bench or in the skybox.
Whether the move is a positive one or not will bear fruit as time goes on. If anyone had told me Ott would be named a coach when the season ended, I’d have said you were insane.
His familiarity with the Blues will definitely be an asset. Ott was playing for the Note back in 2015-16 afterall.
“Steve was a competitor on the ice as a player and I expect him to bring that energy in this role,” said Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo. “He was highly respected as a player and a person among his teammates and I believe he will be a huge asset to our staff.”
The interesting thing is going to be a couple different transitions. Firstly, it won’t be easy for someone with little-to-no coaching experience to suddenly have a spot with an NHL team.
Will Ott be able to have a more mentor/boss type of role? When you are a veteran, you demand respect but you still have more of a friend relationship.
Assistant coaches do have a friendlier relationship with players than the head coach, but it is still not the same. Can Ott chew out a player he was on friendly terms with during his playing days?
Ott seems to think so or else he would not be taking the position. “I am very proud of my playing career and will devote the same work ethic to my coaching career,” said Ott. “The Blues organization is very special to me and my family and I’m excited to take the next step in my hockey career with this franchise.”
On the surface, there is not a huge problem with bringing in Ott as a coach. The Blues definitely needed a veteran presence for next season and now they don’t have to put that kind of salary on the cap.
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However, he just is not the person you would have expected to become a coach. He is a leader, serving time as the captain of the Buffalo Sabres. However, he was an instigator and you have to be able to teach your players to keep an even keel.
Ott knows there will be detractors. “I think they know how I’ve treated them the three years that I played there,” Ott said in regards to how he’ll relate to the players.
“I think there’s mutual respect there, obviously most of them are friends as well. They know how I am as a person, I think that’s key. Knowing behind the scenes and knowing guys on an individual basis, I would talk to them as a teammate the same way I probably would as a coach and when you do that, it’s not a negative thing. You want the best out of your player and going forward we’re going to have the same talks.”
“I know it’s time, I feel it in my heart that it’s time for me to take the next step. And like I said, it is something I’ve really been working on for a lot of years and I’m very passionate about this. It’s going to be a lot of hard work going forward but an opportunity to have a chance to get better as a person, as a coach now, and have a chance to work with some great people from that organization.”
As of now, the deed is done. Blues fans can do nothing but hope Ott’s addition will be a welcome one.
As far as what it does for the rest of the staff, we can’t know for sure. It’s one less spot available to Craig Berube or Daniel Tkaczuk, both of the Chicago Wolves.
Personally, with no evidence behind this, I still believe the Blues are allowing Berube opportunities to look at other head coaching vacancies. If nothing comes of it, he’ll be added as an assistant.
With Ott on the staff, it will definitely be interesting to see who gets handed which roles.