The St. Louis Blues made some roster moves this past weekend. In and of themselves it is what it is, but it continues to show that the team’s coaches never seem to see it the way fans do.
The St. Louis Blues sent Sammy Blais and Ivan Barbashev to the minors this past weekend. While we were unsure of their fate initially, our fears were founded as they will be spending more time down there than fans would like.
The team recalled Beau Bennett from the Chicago Wolves. Whether that is the only player called up remains to be seen, though the Blues can get away with only one replacement since Chris Thorburn has been sitting.
The ascension of Bennett brings mostly a shoulder shrug. Nobody was calling for him to get a chance and the fact that he is is generally met with disinterest.
That is nothing against the player himself. It is more a fact of him not being a name that interests most or someone anyone felt had done enough to prove himself.
Bennett was drafted 20th overall in that fantastic 2010 NHL Draft. That was the one that brought the Blues Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Bennett was picked by the Pittsburgh Penguins. With that stacked lineup, he never found a way to really crack into the team permanently.
The New Jersey Devils gave him a whirl in 2016-17. He scored 19 points in 65 games, which was only five points more than his high with Pittsburgh which came in 26 games. That makes you think that 15-20 points is going to be his ceiling.
St. Louis loves a reclamation project though. Whether it is pitchers or hockey players, it seems St. Louis teams always think they can squeeze that extra little bit out.
The underlying problem here is the theme that goes along. No matter who the coach has been in recent times, we always seem to have these problems. What the staff sees never seems to coincide with what the public sees.
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That is not always a bad thing, by any means. Go to any chat board or listen to sports talk radio call-ins and you’ll find the sort of stupidity that makes it a fabulous thing that coaches do not listen to fans. The flip side of that is when coaches or GM’s play favorites or seem to demand more of some people while others don’t show the same things.
Blais and Barbashev, Blais in particular, are good examples. In recent various articles, Yeo has told the media he expects both to find their game in the minors and become more defensively accountable. In Blais’ case, Yeo wants him to work on his game away from the puck and stop watching the game unfold.
These are not unfounded statements. The problems become that guys still on the NHL roster are doing the same things or worse.
Magnus Paajarvi, Dmitirj Jaskin and apparently now Oskar Sundqvist are getting chance after chance after chance. Very little ever changes. They all apparently do just enough to keep them in their jobs in the coaches’ views, but fans just do not see what they are doing to stay there.
Conversely, we generally do not understand what guys that get sent down were doing wrong. No, Barbashev and Blais were not producing points the way you need them to if they’re going to play top-six roles. There are lots of guys not producing though.
Blais needs to play better defensively? He was the only guy throwing his weight around consistently against Colorado and Vegas, yet his minutes were cut and he was demoted to the third line in each game.
None, or very few, of us are coaches. So, we don’t always see the little nuances that someone who watches practice every day does. We don’t see every fine detail of the work, or lack thereof, put in.
It is just maddening to see this stuff happening over and over. It doesn’t matter if it is Keenan, Quenneville, Hitchcock, Murray, Payne or Yeo – it all seems to happen again.
Hitchcock once insinuated Jaskin had some of the best, pure talent he had seen. We have not seen that tree bear fruit.
Keenan was supposed to be the genius that ended the New York Rangers’ long title drought. All he seemed to do was alienate stars and bring in his former Blackhawks players.
Everybody had favorites. All had players they never seemed to give a fair shake.
I don’t think that is the total assessment here with Yeo. He seems to want the two demoted players to play at their best and just feels they will get there with a stint in the AHL.
"“He’s a guy, we told him even on his way out we need him,” Yeo said of Barbashev in the Post-Dispatch. “He’s an important part of this team. He’s a guy that we need coming in and playing at the level that he can play at because he makes us a better team when he does that.”"
It just becomes frustrating when you do not feel the people being used to replace them are any better or putting in any more work. I almost feel bad for Bennett in this situation.
I have nothing against him personally. He has a goal and two assists in five games with Chicago.
Those are not gaudy numbers. They are comparable to some names that fans would be more comfortable with recalling, so maybe we should give him a shot. Let’s give him his time to earn it. Maybe he’ll be the Woody Williams instead of the Nail Yakupov.
I’m not naive enough to think Barbashev has looked as good as he did to end 2016-17. It is just frustrating to feel the same things are not asked of the NHL guys. I just do not see the same things out of Paajarvi’s or Sundqvist’s (Oskar in particular) game that indicates they are doing the things the demoted players are not.
None of us want to think Sundqvist is being kept around simply to justify a trade. It is hard not to if we do not see what the coaches are seeing though.
Again, we are not there for the day to day interactions and the effort shown in drills and to see the chemistry in practice. Those are the things you have to put the faith in the hands of the coaches.
Fans have been quite wrong before. Despite all the whining about never getting a shot, Ty Rattie has done nothing since leaving. Even I have to admit that I wanted Jaroslav Halak to stay, but his post-Blues career has done nothing to make me think I would have been right.
As humans, we never see eye-to-eye on almost anything. When there have been so few seeing the negatives in certain players’ games and so few seeing the positives in others, but the coaches are on the opposite side of both, it is hard to swallow.
As always, we must trust they know what they are doing. Unfortunately, in the Show Me State, we have yet to really be rewarded for that trust in our hockey coaches.