The St. Louis Blues are always looking toward the future. The future may have just learned how to win the big one, which might come in handy down the road.
I’ve been having conversations with a co-worker of mine. The gist of it is the complaint that the St. Louis Blues are always looking toward the future. As the line in Spaceballs goes, when will then be now?
As far as the big club goes, there is no telling. Some people have been waiting the full 50-plus seasons. Others have gone through less time waiting, but no less torment.
One of the big problems the Blues seem to have is they don’t have enough winners on their roster at any one time. Sometimes you need those guys that have been through the battles.
It is unrealistic to think any rookie can be that person. However, winning breeds winning and the Blues just had two of their prospects learn valuable lessons in winning.
Another thing that both players learned is that moving onto new teams can be a good thing. Both of them got traded and ended up in better situations.
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Fitzpatrick, particularly, was languishing with Sherbrooke. He got traded to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and flourished into one of the Quebec league’s best goaltenders.
His goals against was consistently in the high 3’s with Serbrooke and his save percentage was always sub .900. After finishing the year with Acadie-Bathurst, his stats with the Titan was 2.24 and 9.15. He got even better in the playoffs.
Fitzpatrick started all 20 games for the Titan. He went 18-4 over that stretch with a goals against of 2.10 and a save percentage of .925.
On the way to the title, Fitzpatrick got some revenge too. His team just happened to knock Sherbrooke out of the playoffs, giving that extra something to an already special year.
He was also solid in the clinching game. Acadie-Bathurst won the title with a 2-1 victory in Game 6.
Thomas also picked up the winning swagger. He was doing just fine with the London Knights, but got traded just prior to the deadline to the Hamilton Bulldogs. It ended up being for the best.
Thomas was thriving from an offensive perspective in London. He had 20 goals and 47 points in 27 games with the Knights. The offensive production dropped in Hamilton (4 G, 25 A), but he was learning to fit into a different system on the fly.
He came up big in the playoffs. Thomas scored 12 goals and 32 points in the playoffs alone. According to Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch, he also won the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award for the MVP of the playoffs.
The championship game was a little more action-packed, but just as close as Fitzpatrick’s. Hamilton won their own Game 6 by a final of 5-4. Thomas had a goal and an assist in the clincher.
The time for celebration will be short for both. They will soak in the victory and then prepare for the Memorial Cup, which goes from May 17-27 and is a tournament featuring the winners of each provincial league and a host-team.
In the larger picture, who knows when either of these two might actually suit up in a Blues uniform. Thomas will likely be soon as he is expected to make the team either next season or the year after that. Fitzpatrick’s future is up in the air.
He is only 20 and some goaltenders don’t crack the league until their mid-20’s. Time will tell, but his run to a championship will put him back on the team’s radar after such a bad run in Sherbrooke.
Both players gained invaluable experience, one way or the other. Winning can spread like wildfire. Having players come in, even at early ages, knowing what it takes can help a team in innumerable ways.