St. Louis Blues Beat Writer: Out With Old, In With…Older

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: A general view of the St. Louis Blues draft table is seen during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: A general view of the St. Louis Blues draft table is seen during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues have been lucky enough to have one of the best beat writers in the business associated with them. Now, the writing talent may not go away, but the quality of the coverage might be in question.

For those that are unaware, the St. Louis Blues will be getting a new beat writer from the Post-Dispatch. After 12 years covering the team, Jeremy Rutherford decided to move on to a different challenge.

Now, before we get into the meat of my argument, let it not be said that Rutherford was some sort of hockey god. He came into the job similarly to the man following his footsteps, having already spent eight years at the Post-Dispatch, and learned on the fly.

Like any good reporter, he stuck to the facts, got good quotes and put out some good articles. Being humble, he will say (and often has on Twitter) that his opinions were often wrong but he was quick to offer them when asked since he was around the team more than anyone.

Regardless of his previous skills, he became a trusted source of information to the fans and an invaluable source of story ideas and material for fan writers like myself. He will be missed if he is truly leaving either the area or the sport.

Now enter Jim Thomas. Thomas is another veteran of the Post-Dispatch. He was both fortunate and unfortunate to cover the St. Louis Rams for their entire run in the city and he covered the NFL and college sports before and after their arrival/departure.

As a writer, there is nothing wrong with Thomas. He has a knack for creating a good story and knows how to track down leads and information. The worry is, by his own admission, he knows next to nothing about the sport.

He won’t be the first reporter asked to take on a beat they are unfamiliar with and he won’t be the last. It’s just discouraging to go from a writer that had earned our respect to a new one.

The fear is that he’ll come off as a football guy trying to describe hockey. Perhaps it is only in my head, but I feel it would be easier to go the other way around.

You could take a hockey writer or a soccer writer and have them cover football and it would be fine. Doing it the other way around might have a learning curve due to the different vernacular, different schedules and, as Thomas said, tougher deadline schedules.

As far as Thomas goes, I have no doubts he is going to do his best. You don’t keep a job in the newspaper business for as long as he has been around if you cannot learn to do something different.

On top of that, Tom Timmerman is going to continue to flesh out the Blues section of the paper as he had with Rutherford. Jeff Gordon will be keeping tabs on the team for his columns as well.

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Maybe very little will change other than the name above the articles. Until we see a month or so of articles, it is hard to say.

From the standpoint of a hockey nut, it is hard to understand giving the job to someone with no experience with the sport other than being a fan as a kid. On the plus side, at least Thomas is a St. Louis guy. No offense, but the recent influx of columnists from other cities have left a lot to be desired and a rather sour taste in my mouth from their ridiculous opinions that seem to rile up rather than inform.

It also seems hard to imagine Thomas keeping up Rutherford’s weekly chats though, since he has no knowledge of the team or NHL going into the job. Those will definitely be missed, if for no other reason than the insane questions fans would post gave me plenty of ideas for stories to branch off of.

Rutherford’s future is still unclear at the moment. He tweeted out rather cryptically the other day when asked what his plans were.

The fact he hashtagged the Blues makes one wonder if he is potentially staying involved in the NHL or the team. There have been no whispers of Lou Korac leaving his post, so that seems unlikely.

Maybe Rutherford is taking a radio post. He seemed quite comfortable, after a slow start, on his in-season radio show on 101 ESPN.

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For now, it’s just a waiting game. We wait to see what Rutherford’s future is and how Thomas will adapt to the fast-paced world of the NHL.

There is no reason Thomas cannot or will not succeed. However, change is not always a good thing. Sadly, it is always the inevitable thing.

Good luck to both Rutherford and Thomas this coming season.