The St. Louis Blues felt they had a captain they could depend on for years to come when they named Alex Pietrangelo as the leader of the team. Things slowly went south and have almost hit rock bottom in 2018-19.
The St. Louis Blues felt they made the right choice in naming Alex Pietrangelo the team’s 21st captain. While there was a vocal group that hoped it would be this player or that, most did not mind the choice since Pietrangelo was one of the league’s better defensemen.
Things have not quite gone according to plan since then. However, it is hard to quantify what is wrong with him at this current time.
Since becoming captain, things have been fine statistically. The man they call Petro scored 48 points in that first season with the C and then set a career best 15 goals and 54 points in 2017-18.
His possession metrics have been fine and the stats are fine, so what is wrong? Overall, it is mainly the same issue fans have with goaltenders. We see these guys day in and day out and notice all the little faults that happen game to game. So, in the grand sense, there has been nothing wrong with Pietrangelo. He was a Norris Trophy candidate until a poor end to 2017-18.
Unfortunately, that poor end to 2017-18 has turned into a monumentally bad start to 2018-19. Pietrangelo has played in six games this year and is a minus-6.
That stat could be worse since he has been on the ice during a few of the team’s goals. Despite being out there, he has yet to register a point.
It would be one thing to simply chalk this up to a slow start. It is more than that. Pietrangelo looks slow, lost and confused when he is on the ice. He stumbles around, makes bad decisions and seems incapable of throwing a real hit even though he has been credited with four to this point.
Some of this can be chalked up to being a new parent. Pietrangelo had triplets over the summer and has likely not been getting the right amount of sleep. Anyone with kids knows how much one baby can take your schedule and throw it out the window and he has had that tripled. Even if you have a nanny or family member that can help, many parents find it hard to get sleep because babies don’t care if you need sleep. But, so far, going on the road has not helped him.
Making matters worse, from the outsider’s perspective, is the lack of communication we are getting from the captain. While the Blues’ season is in its infancy (six games in as of writing), we have only had a handful of comments from Pietrangelo. Those were published in the Post-Dispatch.
We have yet to see him appear in a postgame interview. We have yet to see him featured in any of the media, whether it be pre or post, via website or television.
While I respect him and do not believe the worst, it begs the question of where he is. A captain should be in front of this problem, even if it means putting your pride to the side and taking questions that make you sick inside.
For all his other faults, David Backes was in front of the media all the time. Sometimes it almost became too much. We heard the same quotes over and over about how they knew what the problem was, but it never got fixed.
Maybe we would get more of the same from Pietrangelo. However, we do not know because he is nowhere to be found.
The team’s alternate captain, Alexander Steen, has been on the postgame interview twice in a row following tough losses. We have seen Brayden Schenn multiple times. It seems odd the man leading this team is not stepping up for them in the public eye right now.
I find it too hard to believe that he is actually hiding. But, the team keeping him from the media would either get out or simply look bad for all involved. If media members are not asking to speak to him, that seems a disservice to all involved as well.
It must be said, some of this is overblown. As pointed out by Christopher Powers on Twitter, “Is there anything in sports more overstated than the value of the captain? Who cares about what the captain says. They just need to play better.”
Truer words are rarely spoken. We do put too much emphasis on what captains and leaders say. As mentioned earlier, it almost got to be an inescapable loop of what Backes would say and it got tiresome. So, what do we really expect Pietrangelo to say that will change that?
Nothing is the answer. However, it just gives you an odd vibe that your captain is not trying to head off these things. Even if we do not agree that this team can figure this out or we do not agree that the team is doing everything they can to turn the corner, part of your brain still likes to hear that from those in leadership.
This is a guy we still thought could win a Norris Trophy. Part of being a leader is taking the uncomfortable questions. Whether we hear from Pietrangelo or he really is hiding, this team simply has to play better. It would just be nice for the leader of the team to show his face a little more is all.