St. Louis Blues Should Name Ryan O’Reilly Captain Already

Ryan O’Reilly (90) of the St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan O’Reilly (90) of the St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues will have a new person wear the captain’s C for the second time in five years. Though the team will not pick one for quite some time, there is really only one choice.

The St. Louis Blues seem to go through these phases every now and again. They will have a long serving captain, only for the C to be passed around like a serving plate at Thanksgiving.

The Blues feel like they are going through that kind of period now. While David Backes and Alex Pietrangelo were not place holders by any means, whenever the 2020-21 season begins, the Blues will have their third captain in around five years (give or take).

There is a lot of speculation surrounding who will be the ceremonial leader, if not the true leader for The Note for the coming years. The reality is there is only one answer.

Ryan O’Reilly is basically the only man for the job. However, the Blues will not just give it to him right now, even though they should.

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The Blues are a proud franchise with a good amount of history, even if not as long a history book as some other teams. Thus, they don’t want to simply hand over their leadership position without appearing to give it plenty of thought.

Of course, while O’Reilly is the best choice, he is not the only one. Fans have already thrown out plenty of names.

Alex Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn have been the main names discussed in fan circles. Even Colton Parayko, David Perron and Jaden Schwartz got a few “votes” thrown their way in Facebook threads.

All of those names have problems associated with them. Those problems make it less likely they could/should be named captain.

Steen is on the verge of retirement. Maybe it won’t happen this offseason, but it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. His injuries are starting to pile up. Do the Blues really want to make a player captain that won’t start the 2021 season on the ice and might hang up his skates when the season is done? His contract is up after this season too.

Tarasenko also has the injury bug. He’s had several shoulder surgeries at this point and will also miss the start of the upcoming season. Everyone has injuries, but it seems odd to name a captain that you know will not suit up for your team at the start of a season. Additionally, though we all love Vlady and think of him as a talented player, he doesn’t strike me as a leader the way a captain would be. He can lead by example and has good rapport with the team, but outwardly, he doesn’t strike me as one who would speak up all the time.

Parayko would be an interesting choice, but like Tarasenko he has the outward appearance of being too nice. For years now we have wanted him to take that next step. His physicality has picked up a bit and he is a leader in terms of ability, but not in terms of image.

Perron isn’t many people’s first choice, but he actually wouldn’t be a bad selection in a vacuum. He has grown by leaps and bounds compared to the player that left St. Louis the first time. He has put his ego in check and become a much more all-around player and leader as well. His problem is he is 32 and only has two years left on his contract. Given the Blues recent track record, there is no guarantee he’d be around past those two years.

Schwartz is quiet, but might not be a bad captain. His problem, if we are all completely honest, is he won’t be here. Doug Armstrong could always surprise us, but I see Schwartz being trade bait at some point during this season. He’s already making $5.35 million and will want a raise, which just doesn’t make a ton of sense when he can’t score 30 goals. Yes, Schwartz brings a lot of intangibles, but for $6-plus million, you need to be scoring consistently regardless of captaincy material.

In terms of being vocal, setting the tone and being under contract, Schenn is the one that poses the biggest challenge to O’Reilly being captain. Schenn is under contract until 2028, which would almost guarantee him wearing the C for a good, long time. The only downside to Schenn is he comes off as overly emotional at some times. That’s a good thing at some points and not at others.

O’Reilly is just the total package though. He leads by example, leads on the ice, leads with his words and the way he carries himself. You don’t need your captain to be a Lady Byng candidate, but the fact that O’Reilly can play a more physical style without taking penalties shows the type of player he is. O’Reilly takes the time to make his teammates better as well. We have heard lots of stories about him staying after practice so other guys can get more faceoff reps or to take shots on goalies too.

That’s not absolutely necessary, but it’s the kind of mentality you want in a captain. The only thing holding O’Reilly back is that his contract is up in two seasons, which gives Schenn a slight advantage in that category.

Nevertheless, O’Reilly is the type of player that can play into his mid-to-late 30’s. He’s only missed more than 10 games in a year twice and scored 60 points in one of those years. The other, he still scored 20 points in 29 games in the lockout season.

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We will know who the next captain will be soon enough and we should not be upset if the Blues go a different direction. It just makes too much sense for it to be O’Reilly though.

He was not the only difference for the team that won the Stanley Cup, but he made a big difference. He deserves the honor.