St. Louis Blues: Doug Armstrong Contract Extension A Smart Move

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 15: Team Canada General Manager Doug Armstrong takes questions during media day at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/World Cup of Hockey via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 15: Team Canada General Manager Doug Armstrong takes questions during media day at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/World Cup of Hockey via Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues had an important announcement regarding their front office right after the holiday break. They will be bringing Doug Armstrong back for the future.

The St. Louis Blues held a press conference two days after Christmas. They announced the team will be bringing back Doug Armstrong on a new four-year deal with a team option for a fifth.

The team was extremely smart to make this move now. Beyond just bringing back a quality general manager, which we will touch on in a moment, you send a message to the rest of the league.

The Blues are making it clear they want to go for it. Clearly, with a multi-year extension, this is not a short term plan. Still, come the trade deadline, you won’t get any of those college recruiting shenanigans.

What I mean by that is in college recruiting, often times an opposing coach will use another coach’s contract status as a reason not to sign with that school. It doesn’t apply as much to pro sports, but general managers cannot try to squeeze an extra drop out of Armstrong at the deadline thinking he is trying to save his job.

Now, they know that Armstrong is here and whatever deal he wants to make is more than just a short term idea. The other general managers are now forced to come to the table on an even playing field or perhaps even at a disadvantage of their own. That remains to be seen as the trade deadline is not for a couple months.

As far as the man himself, this is still a very good deal for the Blues. Though the waters of social media have not been waded through yet, you can hear the collective groans.

The most popular responses are undoubtedly going to be “four more years of mediocrity” or “more time for him to make no improvements to this team at the deadline” and other such statements. There will also be more profanity, so I’d steer clear if I were you.

When it comes to Armstrong, and any general manager for that matter, fans often want to shape their argument using convenient statements. Yes, Armstrong has made some mistakes along the way – the Ryan Miller trade springs to mind immediately. He really has not made a trade that anyone thought was terrible in the moment though.

You could argue the Kevin Shattenkirk deal was met with disdain, but it had to be done. There was absolutely no way he was coming back to the Blues even if they made salary room for him.

Other than that, has he made any deals that were widely hated before we saw how they turned out? No, he has not.

The Miller deal is seen as a bomb now, but at the time it was heralded as a big-time move for the final piece of the puzzle. People say that the entire haul from the original Shattenkirk trade are now gone, but the Blues got seven years out of that.

Beyond that, haters of this deal conveniently forget that the world’s best hockey nation continually brings Armstrong in to manage their teams. He was an assistant GM of the 2002 and 2008 World Championship teams and GM for the 2009 World Championships. Armstrong was also on the staff that put together the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal team and was the GM for the Gold Medal winners of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

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Doubters will say “how hard is it to pick from the best players in the world?” A true point, but you have to find the right mix or you have an All-Star team that will score but get knocked off by an actual team.

As far as the NHL goes, Armstrong was GM of the year in 2012 when the Blues won the Central Division for the first time in over a decade. He also helped put together the team in Dallas that won the Stanley Cup in 1999.

With the Blues, he’s made a lot of good deals and several ones that draw some groans. Most of his missteps have been with contracts.

Perhaps it is overvaluing players or maybe it is part of working in St. Louis, but he has overpaid on some of the deals in his tenure here. In his defense, most of those contracts were fair value when pen was put to paper. It is only after the fact that we judge it poorly.

Despite fan claims that he has not done enough, he has presided over one of the longest sustained successful periods in Blues history. They have missed the playoffs only twice in his ten years. The Blues have eclipsed 90 points every year but two and one was a lockout season. Additionally, the teams he’s assembled went over 100 points four times and almost five, as they had 99 in 2016-17.

What fans need to realize is that, regardless of what you think of him personally, no general manager has won with the Blues. He is one of only four or five Blues GM’s to get the team to a conference finals or further.

Much like goaltenders, general managers can never make everyone happy. Their goal is to put out the best team possible and try to assemble the best staffs possible.

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Despite all our grumbles about individual performances and depth lines one through four, he’s put together some fine teams that compete well in a difficult league.

You also have to ask yourself, other than Pittsburgh and Chicago, who has done better? Perhaps you through Los Angeles in that mix, but Armstrong is at the top of that next tier. Sure, we’d all like that splashy trade right before the deadline, but he’s kept the long term goal mixed in with the immediate needs better than any of us could.

For that, we should thank Armstrong. While every fan has their needs, not all of us would trade one-time success for long term failure. Let’s just hope that this Blues team can end our long struggle and then Armstrong’s tenure will be seen in a positive light by more.