The St. Louis Blues are very much a Midwestern team when it comes to player signings and movement. Often money keeps the team from doing more, but that is not always a bad thing.
One major gripe fans have had about the St. Louis Blues over the last couple offseasons (maybe more in some cases) is their lack of player acquisitions. A small, but very vocal, part of the fanbase feels they are not being treated fairly since the team won’t just throw money at players for the sake of it.
This article is not to bash those people though (though I could probably fill up several paragraphs at least). No, this article is to say that the Blues might actually be better off with their more pragmatic approach.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see that big name free agent walk through the door and slip on a Blues sweater. If you do not count the Paul Stastny signing, it has been a very long time since the Blues have had that.
The truth of the matter is that the Blues have still managed to put together one of the stronger teams in the league. They don’t have the flashy names or play the prettiest hockey, but they get the job done.
St. Louis, believe it or not, has one of the league’s best records over the last five-plus seasons. Despite our perception of playoff failure, the team has the most playoff wins of any team other than Pittsburgh over a similar time frame.
The Blues might not have the exact team makeup we would put down on a fantasy team, but they get results. In a results driven world, that is enough.
I can already sense the people yelling at their screens that winning those regular season games or playoff games doesn’t matter if they never win the big one. That is true, but there are 29 (now 30) teams every year that do not win the big one.
The point is, not every team has the means or the need to go out and get free agents every summer or make a big splash every trade deadline. While it is boring and frustrating, there is something to be said for keeping a consistency and comfort level among your player core.
Last season, Nashville got hot toward the end of the season and did make it all the way to the final. However, that vocal minority said they were going to run away with the Central Division because of all the great acquisitions they made.
If Winnipeg had not had such a terrible start to the season, they might have kept the Predators out of the playoffs altogether. So, the super team barely got in and then went on a run.
This offseason, the Dallas Stars made all the big moves. They were smart moves because they addressed specific needs, such as goaltending and a playmaker up the middle.
However, they are still thin along the blue line overall. Ken Hitchcock will definitely make a difference with that team, but again fans are claiming they are the super team and will crush all in their path.
Dallas will probably have a good season because the talent is too great not to. That does not automatically mean running roughshod over the league. The Predators proved last year that it takes time for new guys to all gel together.
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That’s what the Blues have that others don’t. We can talk for days about this player not being good enough or that player not producing enough, but they know where they stand on the ice and in the locker room.
Additionally, they are aware that they don’t have forever to get things done anymore.
“We’re not getting any younger in our room,” Alex Pietrangelo said to the Post-Dispatch. “We’ve got a good group of guys that have been here for a while and have been here together. We understand each other as people and as players and in that aspect I’m lucky that there hasn’t been too much turnover and it’s easy to know how to kind of relate to each guy.”
Pietrangelo was talking more about still easing into his captaincy role there, but it also applies across the board to winning and playing well. People are overlooking the Blues because they didn’t make those big splashes.
The fans seems to always want a completely different team and still expect to win in the spring. That’s not how it works.
Look at the Stanley Cup winners of this decade. Chicago has three, LA two and one each for Pittsburgh and Boston.
Those teams were not made in free agency. They were drafted and then a supplemental piece here or there was added.
That is the main difference. If you want to say the Blues have not drafted well in the past, that is an argument for a different day.
As a core, they have done quite a bit of winning even if we perceive them to be lesser than their opponents.
Again, I want this team to keep changing and getting better. You all want the same.
Sometimes there is something to be said for keeping the band together and simply tweaking it. Sometimes a new drummer is enough as opposed to looking for a new lead singer every single year.
Brayden Schenn might not be the magical key to the almost mythical title hopes of the Blues. If you told me the Blues would add that much talent to a team that had 99 points in a bad year, then I’d take it any day of the week.
The Blues added talent to a team that was pretty good already (no matter what our negative fan brains say). They lost almost nothing (sorry Reaves fans, but as much as we all love him, that isn’t going to make this team miss the playoffs).
We’d all love to see some of the rookies or prospects supplant guys like Carl Gunnarsson or Robert Bortuzzo. Even if it doesn’t happen, this team is good. Sometimes we are just too far in the forest to see the trees.