The St. Louis Blues have played a wait and see game to this point with their general manager’s contract status. It made sense at first, but now a deal needs to get ironed out.
The St. Louis Blues have played a little coy regarding the contract status of Doug Armstrong up until now. The time is approaching, though, where they need to put the iron in the fire so to speak.
I can sense the seething hatred coming through the computer screen as people read this. Despite some of the longest success the franchise has had under one GM, there is a very vocal group that has wanted Armstrong’s head from the start.
According to these unreasonable people, he doesn’t make the big deals. He doesn’t attract the big name free agents.
Armstrong overpays for players already on the team. He is just one of the worst general managers apparently, despite continually being brought in to oversee Team Canada’s operations.
Look, any rational person knows that Armstrong is not without fault. He has overspent on some contracts, but it’s not as though he has just thrown money away for the sake of it.
The Blues overpaid Jori Lehtera, by all accounts. However, when the deal was signed, he was coming off a fabulous rookie season and most people thought he would continue to get better. Instead he regressed. Even holding pat would have made the contract palatable, but that did not happen.
The Paul Stastny contract has been somewhat of an albatross, no doubt there either. Again, it was necessary at the time.
Stastny, as a player in his own right, has not lived up to the salary being paid to him. That is not on Armstrong though. Regardless of value in hindsight, that was the going rate to bring in a high-profile free agent in that summer.
Most see the Jay Bouwmeester contract as an overpayment as well. Given his statistical contributions, that’s not an invalid argument.
However, he’s still a top-four defender on most teams. Armstrong also got him to take a salary cut compared to what he was making with Calgary. It was not a huge cut, but still impressive considering it was following his strongest season with the Blues.
Armstrong has not been a huge trade partner. Most of his deals over the tenure have been of a smaller nature.
That is not the home run that fans want, but trades are not made in a vacuum or in a video game. There are two teams involved.
For all we know, Armstrong has tried to make deals each and every deadline. It’s not the flashy move, but maybe he’s managed to hold out and not overpay just to win the press conference, as they say.
No offense, but I’d rather overpay on a contract here or there than overpay during a trade. It’s all well and good to bring in a Connor McDavid, but if you trade away a quarter of your team and some draft picks to do it, it’s not worth it.
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As Rutherford pointed out, if you intend to bring him back, sooner is better than later. If the Blues continue their good season and made a good run, you’re either going to get Armstrong asking for more money or other teams throwing money at him and having to match.
Rutherford also made the point that some people within the organization could go as well – either with Army or to other jobs.
"Assistant GM Martin Brodeur, vice president of hockey operations Dave Taylor, senior consultant Larry Robinson, director of player development Tim Taylor, director of hockey analytics Thomas Cason were all brought in by Armstrong. And in addition to Bill Armstrong being promoted, Rob DiMaio ascended to director of player personnel under Doug Armstrong."
Al MacInnis was there before Armstrong, but there is no guarantee he’d stick around under a potential new regime either. That’s a lot of talented people that would suddenly be gone.
It’s not as though there are not other guys that could do the job. The Blues have had success before and could have some after Armstrong. Re-sign him or not, he won’t be here forever.
The issue fans need to realize though is they’re going to hate anyone in that job. That’s basically the burden of GM’s across the nation.
There are fans that hate the Chicago Blackhawks GM even though he helped end the team’s nearly 50 year drought. There are fans that openly question the Pittsburgh GM, despite so many championships.
Nobody put in that job will make everyone happy. It’s impossible.
The Blues used to make trade after trade, every deadline. However, Ron Caron messed up a lot of the team’s chemistry while they were cruising along, just for the sake of it.
Add to that, many fans have wanted to blow this current team up several times. If they got their way, the Blues would not currently be battling for the top spot in the conference. Armstrong stood his ground and did what he felt was best and has been rewarded.
Armstrong is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. He is much better than many give him credit for.
The Blues don’t seem to be in a situation where they need new blood in the office yet either. They need to get an extension done now, while it’s still going to come at a reasonable cost.
There is no need for an insanely long deal. Somewhere in the range of two to five years would be more than sufficient.
We will see how things work out. One thing is for sure for all the people that want him out – the grass is not always greener, so they need to be careful what they wish for.