St. Louis Blues Mike Hoffman Must Be Better, But So Must Fans

St. Louis Blues left wing Mike Hoffman (68)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues left wing Mike Hoffman (68)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues thought they knew what they were getting when they signed Mike Hoffman. In a way, they were right, but not in the way they or their fans had hoped.

Jamie Rivers brought up a very interesting point on 101 ESPN when discussing Hoffman. While you could take issue with comparing a human to a dog, it was not a literal statement.

For those that missed the show, Rivers basically equated the Blues signing Hoffman to a family going to pick out a new dog. You want the best dog out there to guard your family, so you find this big German Shepherd and that first day everything is great and the family is happy.

As Rivers scenario continues, the next day, the dog starts jumping on company because it’s too excited. No big deal, because you can train it to stop.

The third day, you find it peed on your couch. Now, you’re irritated, but again it can be fixed.

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Then, the dog chews up your best pair of shoes and you’ve lost it. But, you don’t give up on the dog, because that can be fixed too, but it’s more training than you anticipated.

That’s what the Blues are running into and the things fans don’t notice as much. Fans only notice the stats, so if a scorer isn’t scoring, they say the player is a waste of money because they don’t have a certain amount of goals.

With Hoffman, I don’t get the sense that’s the problem. His goals will come, because talent doesn’t just disappear.

However, the problem with Hoffman is not any perceived lack of offense. The problem is the Blues got a quality dog that has not been trained in the other parts of the game.

Think about the teams that Hoffman has been on. He started his career with the Ottawa Senators.

Other than that one miracle team that somehow made the conference final, most of his Senators teams were not that good. They were asking him to score and that was it, because having a scorer in and of itself gave them their best chance to win on a nightly basis.

After that, he went to the Florida Panthers. He had two different coaches with the Panthers, both of whom are reasonably good defensive coaches, but did not haave the time to fix Hoffman’s deficiences and just asked him to score again.

The Blues are not built that way. They cannot have a player just floating around, doing his own thing, and have team success or personal success.

Rivers’ assertion, which is something I have picked up on as well, is that Hoffman is kind of doing his own thing at the moment. When you’re someone like Brett Hull, early in his career, you can get away with that.

Hoffman is not Hull. He’s not going to provide you 50 goals, so he has to find a way to play within the Blues particular team system.

If he does not know where he needs to be on the forecheck, he needs to ask or be told. The person crashing the zone hard has all their efforts wasted if Hoffman is just gliding around the blue line and not actually supporting from the right spot.

He needs to know there are certain things expected defensively too. Nobody is asking him to be O’Reilly and win a Selke Trophy, but if you are going to hold a player like Jordan Kyrou out of the lineup in years past for defense, you need to hold other players to the same standard.

Additionally, the Blues don’t have a lot of run and gun offense where you just get someone the puck and let them work their magic. It’s all about zone entry and knowing where your winger will be.

Right now (it is still quite early) none of the centers have developed enough of a rapport with him to know where he’s at yet. He has not had enough time to learn the system yet to know what is expected of him.

So, like Rivers said, you have a dog that is still good but needs to be trained. To springboard off that idea, the problem is the dog show is happening tomorrow.

Hoffman has to learn this stuff on the fly. He got no preseason games to work the kinks out and only a handful of practices under his pro tryout contract.

The reason I say fans need to get better too is that we all tend to view things simplistically. We all like to say “they’re millionaires, so they just need to get it together” when it’s never that simple. Giving you or I $1 million won’t automatically make us better at our jobs, so we need to stop using that as a reason why a player must get into gear.

Next. Loss of defenders no excuse for Blues bad defending. dark

Fans can’t just say he’s not doing his job if there are a lack of goals either. There are reasons he is not scoring and a lack of talent is not one of them. If you have a ton of talent, but aren’t surrounded with the right support group, it doesn’t matter. So, until Hoffman picks up what Craig Berube is asking from him and gels with his teammates, there are going to be blips.

Let’s not forget that O’Reilly said it took him until the playoffs to feel comfortable with his new team. Justin Faulk needed an entire season and a few months off to seem right with the Blues too. Hoffman will need to improve a lot of things. Fans need to stop being as simplistic too.