The St. Louis Blues felt they made a good deal when they traded for Faulk. Unfortunately, all they have received is grief.
The St. Louis Blues made one of their more controversial trades on September 24, 2019. That’s the day they sent Joel Edmundson and the rights to Dominik Bokk to the Carolina Hurricanes for Justin Faulk.
Edmundson was a popular player both with the locker room and the fans. He was not overly skilled, but he dug in, fought for ice and did the dirty work.
On the flip side, Faulk was unknown to the Blues and their fans other than what the numbers told you. He was offensively gifted, but somewhat iffy defensively.
Nevertheless, on paper, it was a good deal. Sadly, there were some that never gave the trade a chance.
Those people poured poison into everyone else’s ears and the crowd that was against Faulk just got louder. Even now, with his first season in St. Louis not quite over yet, there are fans that want Faulk gone.
The weird thing about sports is that you can be on the same side, wanting what is best for the team, and not agree on one thing in order to get there. That is the case right now between myself and some of our friends over at St. Louis Game Time.
They’re not the first to jump on this anti-Faulk bandwagon. They are simply the latest.
Frankly, I’m sick of it. Fans that have followed this site long enough know I rarely just jump out and make my opinion personal. I try to give more of a neutral side, but this is approaching Jaroslav Halak vs Brian Elliott levels.
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As pointed out in Gabriel Foley’s article, Faulk had a very bad season in 2019-20. In fact, by most accounts, it was his worst season.
It should be noted, Foley does a pretty good job of breaking down the financial aspect of a potential buy out of Faulk’s contract too. If you want more on that, check out that piece.
What irritates me is this notion that Faulk has nowhere to go but down. The guy is 27 and we are willing to write him off as though his career is over and the Blues will be wasting their money for years to come.
Of course, his contract looks bad on multiple levels right now. The price the Blues are paying is likely to be a big reason Alex Pietrangelo probably walks and it looks very bad to pay over $6 million for a player coming off his worst season ever and not even cracking 20 points.
The case against him is large, but are we really ready to say that 71 games is worth giving away Faulk on top of already trading Bokk and Edmundson? I think that’s nonsense.
Nobody is willing to take into account any extraordinary circumstances. We all think pro athletes are just robots that go out there and play accordingly to their salaries with no emotion or changes in environment taken into account.
Carolina drafted Faulk in 2010 and he spent eight seasons there. Faulk came up with plenty of guys in that locker room, was even briefly captain of the team and used as their top defenseman.
We can argue about his defensive abilities if you want, but there are very few teams in the league that would not have Faulk in their top four and maybe even top two. Yet, all fans want to do is look at whatever numbers justify their rage.
Ok, so Faulk’s worst career year put him slightly below Edmundson in terms of some advanced stats. Why does that automatically mean he has to be worse than Edmundson every year? Why does it mean that Faulk will not be back to normal next season?
The guy played his entire career in one spot and, without warning, got traded right before the season. Nobody saw this deal coming. Unless someone in Carolina can say otherwise, there were no hints of Faulk going anywhere other than potentially in free agency once his deal was up.
The shock of being traded impacts players differently. Who are any of us to say he should have just gotten over it, fit in with players he’s never played in the NHL with and been normal?
Players are all different. While Ryan O’Reilly found a way to still produce, even he said he did not feel 100% at home in the Blues locker room until the playoffs began. That’s not saying anyone made him feel that way, but in your own head you still think of yourself as an outsider.
Faulk went from a situation where he was the power play quarterback and almost always the top on-ice time player to regularly being used in a third pairing role. That’s going to be a knock to someone’s confidence no matter who you are and I don’t want to hear any nonsense about him not earning the time.
Faulk is not a perfect defenseman. He needs a defensive player to be paired up with to really fit into the Blues style.
One fault that rests on the shoulders of the coaching staff is continually pairing him with Vince Dunn. They are basically the same type of player, so neither one knew when to stay at home or when the other was going to push up the ice.
The Blues gave up on the Faulk and Pietrangelo experiment far too quickly and often. Then, when it seemed like he was fitting in nicely with Jay Bouwmeester, the team would change up the pairings again for reasons only they understand.
On top of all that, it just makes no earthly sense why you would buy Faulk out. You can give me all the figures in the world about cap room for next season, but you just don’t give up on a guy that quickly when he’s still fine physically and could easily have a bounce back season or a great playoff run in 2020.
There is simply no way in hell, barring something extraordinary, that the Blues give up on him after one year and literally just giving him an extension. I’m tired of hearing about buy outs or trades or the ever popular bag of pucks that is apparently worth more than a man’s career.
I hope Faulk stays his entire contract. I hope he has a career year in 2020-21 just to shove it down so many fans’ throats.
Everyone has their own opinions in sports and even people that agree don’t often agree fully. However, for as welcoming and courteous as Blues fans are famous for being, they are spiteful and hate-filled too.
Sure, Bouwmeester gets all the love now with his condition. What about all those social media posts saying he was worthless too?
His contract was another albatross according to the vocal masses. The Blues don’t get past Dallas without his goal line stop and the guy sacrificed himself more than we’ll ever know and that’s regardless of his current health condition.
Barrett Jackman went through this as did just about every goaltender for the Blues for the last decade, not named Jordan Binnington. Sadly, it has made me just as spiteful.
We don’t have to think any player is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but they wear the Blues sweater. Give the guy a chance for crying out loud.
I hope he stays here just to irritate people for the next seven years.