The St. Louis Blues are not the darlings of the NHL. They don’t have the star power or the flash that teams like the Colorado Avalanche or Edmonton Oilers have.
They do have something those two teams do not. They have a Stanley Cup ring that isn’t old enough to be in high school if it were a human being.
Maybe the Blues style is not for everyone. Even Blues fans are split as to whether they like it.
Check any social media feed during a game and you’ll have people talking about how they love the physicality, but you’ll also have plenty accusing the team of being boring. The Blues don’t win by trying to wow the crowd, that much is true.
They’re nowhere near as boring as some of those New Jersey Devils teams were when the neutral zone trap was en vogue. However, they’re not going to outrace many teams in this league down the ice if it comes to a pure race.
That’s not their strength. Yet, to label them as bullies or unskilled is to misunderstand the nuance of the game of hockey.
If everyone won the way the Wayne Gretzky Oilers did, there’d be no balance. You might as well go full Olympics and widen the rink so there’s next to no hitting.
Hockey, the NHL in particular, has yin and yang. For every team that wins by pure offensive talent, you have a team willing to grind it out and win with a defensive style.
That’s how the Blues won in 2019. They had enough talent to score goals, but they ground teams into dust. Anyone who watched that year’s Western Conference Final will remember the sight of a San Jose Sharks bench so depleted that you wondered if some had just gone home.
That’s what the Blues did. They were not out to purposely hurt someone the way someone like Tom Wilson might, but they were going to wear you down to the point you couldn’t go any more.
Apparently Mark Kiszla doesn’t understand that kind of stuff, even though he’s been covering the Denver sports scene for decades. However, I guess it’s easy to get spoiled on skill when you got used to having Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and all of those teams.
Kiszla, who is a columnist for the Denver Post had some rather odd things to say about the Blues. Nothing said was overly derogatory, but you wouldn’t expect it from a journalist, even if in a column.
Denver Post writer resorts to name calling
"With every punch Avs captain Gabe Landeskog landed to the mug of a bozo wearing a Blues sweater, the message was pounded home: Do not mistake pretty for weak. – Mark Kiszla, Denver Post"
When discussing the fight between Brayden Schenn and the Avalanche captain, those were the word choices Kiszla used. Even Blues fans cannot really argue that Schenn got it handed to him, but “bozo”?
Schenn is a guy that goes out there and lays it on the line every single night. Until a shortened season slowed him down this year, he’d been a consistent 50-plus point player. He wouldn’t slide into the Avs’ top line, but he’s the kind of player any Avalanche fan would be giddy to have.
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If you want to talk about the hit specifically, there’s no problem calling it into question. If it was not direct knee-on-knee, it was pretty close. There’s no history of that kind of stuff with Schenn, unless you’re calling into deep history where Schenn got into a fight with the Avalanche a few years ago.
He plays with edge and grit. Blues fans see him with rose colored glasses, but even a neutral would know he’s not going to hurt someone. He went for a hit and the shiftiness of the opponent took it from a direct hit to one that involved the legs.
Whatever though. I know the deal. A columnist’s job is to evoke reaction. When that reaction is weak, that’s when people have a real problem with it.
I have a problem with it when a supposed journalist starts talking the way any person on the street might. It’s fine to have an opinion. If you’re writing for a site like this or any of the sites on FanSided, it’s more acceptable to come at it from a fan point of view and use looser language.
I just don’t think a writer for an actual newspaper should be discussing things the way he has.
"A little over 10 minutes into the opening period of this opening-round playoff series, St. Louis forward “Bozo” Brayden Schenn took a cheap shot at the knee of Avalanche star Mikko Rantanen as he wheeled on the attack."
Cheap shot is a bit much. Een if we concede it as questionable, you’re questioning a guy who has only been suspended once.
"But Mr. Schenn has been around this game long enough to know: That was a clown move, bro."
I don’t know why it bothers me, but that whole statement rubs me wrong. As a guy who went to school for journalism, even in a column it doesn’t sit well for a supposed journalist to say something was a clown move and then call an athlete bro.
Kiszla continued his homerism. It’s funny that in today’s society we still resort to labels just to rile people up.
"At the final horn, skirmishes broke out across the ice, with the Blues again trying to bully the Avs. Colorado veteran Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was having none of it, scolding the interlopers from St. Louis to slink back to the losing locker room.But before the Blues crawled back under the rock from whence they came, goalie Jordan Binnington skated the length of the ice, acting as if he wanted a piece of Avalanche counterpart Philipp Grubauer.Binnington “can do whatever he wants,” Landeskog said. “He’s not going to get to us. He’s not going to get to Grubi.”The schoolboy, nanny-nanny-poo-poo stunt pulled by Binnington was an insult to any goalie actually brave enough to send a message with his fists. Back the day, we all recall that when Patrick Roy wanted to fight, he didn’t back down.Try to bait the boys in burgundy and blue into fisticuffs? And then not be man enough to drop the gloves and actually fight? What’s wrong with you, Mr. Binnington?That’s a clown move, bro."
Again with the clown move, bro? Can we at least try to be original?
Did he actually witness the end of this game or just have someone tell him about it and write an inflammatory piece to get people riled up? Anyone who watched the end would know that Kiszla’s interpretation of Binnington’s actions are not even close to reality.
Binnington went down there looking to pick a fight, there is little doubt of that. He saw Grubauer hitting his teammate and went down to take care of business in a typical hockey fashion.
If you think for a second Binnington went down there and did an NBA-style hold me back, you’re joking. Binnington had every intention of dropping the gloves but the officials would not let him through.
If we want to question people’s intentions, where was Grubauer in that video shot? Grubauer is standing up for himself, which there’s nothing wrong with, but the bottom line is it’s easy to put a headlock on a skater who doesn’t expect it, especially when you have a teammate right there to help you out.
Grubauer was nowhere near Binnington when the Blues goalie was coming to pick a fight. So, in Kiszla’s scenario, maybe Grubauer is the one not living up to Roy’s memory of flying across the line to engage the opponent.
This should all be expected now. Upon further research, this is not the first time Kiszla’s particular journalistic style has been called into question.
Back in 2010, David Martin of Bleacher Report called out Kiszla’s overzealous reaction to the Colorado Rockies sticking with Todd Helton over a suddenly resurgent Jason Giambi.
That’s normal columnist stuff, but Martin points out several instances where Kiszla basically shows he doesn’t know his rear from a hole in the ground. Even worse, Martin recalled the tale of Kiszla’s underhandedness in 1998.
When the furor with Mark McGwire using Andro was going on, Kiszla rummaged through the locker of Dante Bichette. As Martin points out, that’s not investigative journalism. It’s being a creep.
Again, much of this boils down to approach and delivery instead of the message. There’s been several writers or broadcasters that have questioned the Blues talent and style, even when they were on their way to the Stanley Cup, but it was done in a way that had legitimacy backing it up.
This guy comes off as one of those fools that sits at the bar and argue with anyone that was dumb enough to plop themselves down next to him. His only legitimacy is he has a forum.
People on the other side can say I’m doing the same thing. The difference is people come to this site knowing they’re going to get a fan’s opinion. As wonderful as this site is and as great as FanSided has been, even they will say they seek to be different than places like The Denver Post or any newspaper.
Frankly, maybe that’s good if this is what we get from “legitimate” news sites.