The St. Louis Blues are in the midst of a quiet period, despite all the uproar about where they’ll trade Vladimir Tarasenko and for who. That doesn’t stop the speculation.
That said, I am going to strongly disagree. I don’t disagree with the talent, nor the idea that obtaining someone who is younger than Tarasenko and could replace the scoring would be ideal.
I disagree that the Blues should try to go after Laine. Admittedly, there are not many other options that fit the bill for being a scorer and younger, but I would not touch him with a 10-foot pole right now.
The reason he scares me off is how he forced his way out of Winnipeg. Lots of players ask to be dealt, but Laine just had an air of a supreme prima donna.
Towards the end of his time in Winnipeg he was demanding to be on the top line. He was all but telling the team who he wanted on his line.
As old school as I am, I get it. If you believe you’re the most talented guy, you want to be recognized and play with the best teammates.
Laine’s demands seemed to come at the expense of wanting to win. Whether it’s true or not is immaterial, but the way he approached it made it seem like he would rather be on the top line and play on a middling team as opposed to make a small sacrifice to be on a winner.
In today’s NHL, if your team is good enough, why does it matter? The Blues have two best lines most games and, depending on whether they had their full lineup or not, you often did not know which was the “number one” line.
From a talent perspective, it was hard not to argue that the Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz line was the top line. However, it’s hard to argue the coaching staff usually put out the Ryan O’Reill, David Perron and (instert other winger) in some of the more crucial stages of the game.
Based on production, wouldn’t Perron have the right to claim Schwartz’ spot? Should O’Reilly feel slighted for those couple games where Robert Thomas was technically the number one center?
As far as Laine seems concerned they should have. The team concept seemed foreign to him based on his comments in Winnipeg.
I don’t know Laine and neither do the fans. For all we know, he might thrive under a coach like Craig Berube.
Maybe Chief could get him to buy into a team concept and care only about winning instead of which line he’s on. Chief is a good mix of hard nosed, old-school along with an ability to get along with younger players as well.
I’m just not sold on that. While there is every chance it was a coaching issue with Paul Maurice or John Tortarella, Laine has not proven himself to be a true top line player.
The production is there, no doubt. He scored 44 goals at age 20 and 30 the year after that.
Yet, neither franchise has seen fit to put Laine on the ice in the crucial moments of a close game with a lead or for the bulk of minutes. He averaged over 19 minutes just once in his career so far and, not coincidentally, that was the season where he had the most assists in his career and took a more team-focused approach.
For all the knocks on Tarasenko, the Blues coaches put him out there between 18 and 19 minutes four straight seasons prior to him getting injured. Additionally, Tarasenko’s numbers are either better or on par.
Laine wins the goals with a high of 44, but Tarasenko scored high 60’s or above 70 points in five straight seasons. Laine’s best season was 70 points and it’s been hit or miss since then because he’s focused on goals. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially since so many Blues fans wish Tarasenko had passed less.
Yet, the hit totals are pretty similar between the two forwards. Since so many Blues fans don’t consider Tarasenko physical, despite two straight seasons of close to 90 hits prior to his injury, it’s hard to call Laine a physical player even at his size since the totals are similar.
Blues fans sometimes said Tarasenko was careless with the puck. If that’s true, Laine is a turnover machine with almost twice as many giveaways per season as Tarasenko.
So many are saying Tarasenko underperformed with four goals in 24 games in 2021. However, Laine was not that much more impressive with 10 goals in 45 games and just 21 points compared to Tarasenko’s 14.
The comparison isn’t apples to apples because Tarasenko may be gone regardless of whether the Blues could acquire Laine or not, so this is not an article to say keep Tarasenko (though I think they should).
However, the comparison is made because fans get caught up in someone’s best numbers and ignore the rest when they decide they want someone. Laine is a pure goal scorer, no doubt.
If he could fit into the Blues system, I would happily eat my words and cheer for every goal. Yet, if we say one player has to go because they’re not playing “Blues hockey” then why bring in another player with a questionable background?
Selfishness does not make a player bad. Christiano Ronaldo is a prime example of that and he has many fans.
Until proven he would act differently than he did in Winnipeg, I would not want Laine on my team