The St. Louis Blues have had so many great players come and go in their history, making it easy to forget some of the short-lived talents that put on the Note. What better way to start the series than with a Hall of Famer?
Paul Kariya was acquired by the St. Louis Blues on July 1, 2007, after two good years with the Nashville Predators and a lengthy career in Anaheim. They agreed to a three-year contract worth $18 million for his age 33, 34, and 35 seasons.
The 5-10 left-winger from Vancouver got off to a good start in his first season with the Blues, posting 34 points in his first 37 games. He hit a bit of a dry spell toward the end of December but posted his first Blues hat trick against the Dallas Stars in a shootout loss late in the month.
The second half of the season was not nearly as strong. Kariya hit a bit of a scoring drought, only netting five more goals in the remaining 46 games after his hat trick on December 29. Additionally, he finished the season with a minus-10.
Still, he tied Brad Boyes for the most points on the team. The Blues ultimately missed the playoffs, finishing fifth in the Central Division.
Year two of his contract got off to a great start but also had a terrible ending. Kariya had 13 assists and two goals through the team’s first 11 games. Unfortunately, an injury in Anaheim forced him into hip surgery, ending a promising start to his season.
Without him, the Blues found their way to third place in the division and a first-round date with the Vancouver Canucks. Fans probably remember the disappointment of getting swept after only mustering up five goals in the series.
Kariya’s third year in St. Louis turned out to be the last of his NHL career. For a 35-year old, he had a decent season scoring 18 goals and collecting 43 total points.
As you can see below, he still had a lot left in the tank late in the 2009-10 season. Concussions ended this Hall of Famer’s career far too early and it is sad to think what kind of production he really could have had under the Arch.
The Blues struggled that season under Andy Murray. They went just 17-17-6 before firing him and replacing him with Davis Payne. It also means that the great Paul Kariya never had a chance to play in a postseason game for the Blues.
It is understandable why Kariya might be a forgotten Blue. He played on teams we wanted to forget and was never able to participate in a playoff game because of hip surgery.
However, he did manage to lead the team in points in his first season and post 123 points in 168 games late in his career. He may not have lived up to his $6 million a year, but Blues fans should certainly remember him fondly.