The St. Louis Blues are often a team that is only as good as their weakest link. That is why it has been so important that everyone has taken a sort of leadership role on this team.
When the St. Louis Blues have been at their best, they have found leadership from placed outside of the expected. Of course, you have to have the guys with the C and A’s on their sweater be your main leaders.
St. Louis has shown in the recent past, though, that when other guys step up and share their voice, people will listen. The team has often benefited from those situations as well.
On the team that went to the Western Conference Finals in 2016, you had plenty of voices. Though neither one wore a letter, Troy Brouwer and Steve Ott were big voices in the locker room because they had both been there before. They knew what was needed to get the job done.
Even the Blues that were so great in 1985-86 had the same. Brian Sutter was the captain and nobody made mistake of where the buck stopped. However, you could also look to future captain like Doug Gilmour or Joe Mullen or Rob Ramage. Each brought something else to the table but held their teammates accountable as well.
The 2017-18 Blues are no different. They have streamlined their lettering system, but that does not mean that guys are not still leaders.
Under Ken Hitchcock, there was a rotating system. Last year, the team had four alternate captains. This season, Mike Yeo has gone back to the more tried and true having one captain and two alternates all the time.
One of the players no longer wearing the A is Paul Stastny. Despite losing his letter, Stastny has taken no less of a role within the locker room.
“I think within the locker room, I know where I stand with the players and I know the philosophy,” Stastny said to the Post-Dispatch. “You have young guys ready to step up and take over, whether it’s now or grooming them into a role in the future – (Colton Parayko), Schwartzie, Vladdy. To me, I always want to be the same guy, where guys can look up to me. I’m always going to do the same thing, helping out the younger guys, on and off the ice, especially the guys with more responsibility. I know sometimes people tend to put more pressure on themselves.”
"“I try to play the same way on the ice, but for me, it’s same thing as always, always helping out, whether it’s the older guys or the younger guys. When I was in that boat, same thing, sometimes it’s nice to have younger guys look up to you and nice to have older guys tell you things to do. It’s a fine line, I think we do a good job in this locker room of everyone kind of picking each other up, whether you’re a younger guy or a veteran guy.”"
That is the kind of thing the Blues need. Whether Stastny or anyone, you need those voices that are willing to pick the team up when needed but be heavy handed if they need a kick in the butt. That’s exactly what you got with Brouwer and one of the reasons, outside his play, he was so important to that team’s run.
You are not just getting it from one area either. Yeo expects his team to have voices speak up from all areas. He said as much in the same article from Tom Timmermann.
“Whether it’s a guy like Stas who had one (a letter) last year, a guy like Schwartzie who’s emerged and become more of a leader, not just in his play but also off the ice,” Yeo continued in the Post-Dispatch. “A guy like Colton we expect leadership from, (Brayden Schenn), what he’s been able to add to our group. We still have a number of guys that we would count on in that situation, but for me, I think that it was just sort of to streamline it, to make sure we put the onus on those guys that they know night to night that they’re the guys that should be leading the way.”
As Yeo pointed out, with the current situation, you know who to look toward night in and out. You’re always going to have Alex Pietrangelo as the captain and Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen as the alternates.
However, the best teams have guys that step into that roll regardless of recognition. Sometimes it’s scoring the big goals like Schwartz or sometimes it is just knowing when to call people out like Brouwer or Ott or Ryan Reaves used to do.
This team has that leadership group. Perhaps that’s why they are playing so well and on the cusp of making us wonder if they can be something special.