St. Louis Blues Captaincy Is Suddenly A Huge Problem For 2023-24

St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn (10)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn (10)Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues have enough issues going into the 2023-24 season. They need to worry about improving a defense that could not stop the back-door play to save their lives, they need to settle their goaltending situation down and are hoping for a lot of guys to play up to their potential just to be a playoff team.

The Blues should not have had to worry about their captaincy going into the season. While camp has not started quite yet, the fact the team does not have a captain yet speaks volumes and it’s nothing good.

The issue of the captaincy is suddenly multi-faceted. It’s no longer about who gets it, but now whether the team actually has confidence that anyone deserves it.

Just a few, short years ago. The C on the sweater was built up to be this big thing.

When Alex Pietrangelo was named team captain, they had highlight packages made and there was a big discussion about the legacy of who had worn the C.

It wasn’t as though Pietrangelo was part of some anniversary. Being the 21st captain, it was not as though it was a special number that demanded commemoration.

It simply felt like the Blues were portraying it as an honor. The team had been around long enough for it to now be a big deal.

Perhaps it was because Pietrangelo was taking over for David Backes. Despite the plethora of big names the Blues had over the years, Backes was actually the longest standing captain of the franchise and he only had the C for five seasons.

Nevertheless, at the time, it felt like Pietrangelo was getting the torch passed to him. When he could not come to terms on an extension and went to Vegas, things shifted.

Ryan O’Reilly was the defacto captain anyway. Even though Petro was a clear leader, we constantly heard about all the staying late and arriving early kind of things that O’Reilly was doing. So, when Pietrangelo left, it was a no-brainer to make O’Ry the captain.

When the Blues traded O’Reilly away during their disastrous 2022-23 season, there was no clear-cut replacement. There are certainly options, but the team is at a slight impasse.

Brayden Schenn is the likeliest candidate out there. He is now entering his seventh season in St. Louis, so only Robert Bortuzzo and Colton Parayko have been there longer.

Schenn is a lead by example kind of guy on the ice. Even though he is a 50-point scorer, he will drop the gloves to get his team out of a funk or stand up for a teammate.

Personally, I wish there was a different choice. I love Schenn as a player, but there have been whispers of involvement with locker room divides that worry me as a potential leader.

However, the problem there is who else do you go with? Robert Thomas has been mentioned as a future captain, so do you give it to him now so you can settle the captaincy down?

Thomas is a very good player, but there’s just something that doesn’t seem like a captain. Right now, we aren’t even sure he can be a true top-line center, so how sure are we he could be a true captain?

Parayko is another option. Not all captains get in your face or get loud in the locker room. Still, it just feels like he’s too quiet. Additionally, the Blues seemed semi-interested in trading Parayko away at the 2023 deadline. Are you going to turn around and make him captain just months after trying to offload his contract?

Justin Faulk could be a choice. He was briefly the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, so he’s got the experience of having done it.

Torey Krug is a darkhorse option. However, the Blues tried to package him in a trade to the Philadelphia Flyers. It would seem a stretch for even the captaincy to smooth that wrinkle. Additionally, while I like Krug, the fact remains he has not stayed healthy in a Blues uniform. You don’t want your captain missing 25% of a season.

As mentioned, it’s not even just who the Blues pick that is causing an issue. It’s the time it has taken.

When Pietrangelo was named captain, it happened almost as soon as the team knew Backes was not returning. O’Reilly was not named immediately, but we all knew it was happening – well, everyone not named Vladimir Tarasenko knew.

Now, the summer is almost entirely gone and we are just weeks away from training camp and preseason games. The Blues still have no captain.

Muddying the waters even more, general manager Doug Armstrong has gone on record saying they may play the season with no captain. That has made it even worse.

On the surface, there should be no problem with not having a player with the C. Other teams have done it, though it was usually when a long-term captain was out with injury or just retired.

The Blues have had time to select a replacement and, by not choosing one, are essentially saying nobody is worthy/ready. That could cause some issues.

2022-23 was a season marred by players not living up to their potential because they got in their own heads. There was enough talent there to at least be a playoff team.

Now you’re taking a team that is a borderline playoff contender and starting things off with a situation that might cause mental strife. You don’t want to hand out a captaincy just for the sake of it, but by waiting, you’re sending a clear message of what you think of the players.

It’s not a good position for this team to be in. They need to focus on coming together as a team, not worry about these intangibles.

The sad thing is I don’t have the answers and most fans wouldn’t either. In terms of how long you intend them to be here, Thomas would be the best choice. He just doesn’t strike me as a captain though.

Schenn makes the most sense from a pure leadership/veteran presence. Even without clear evidence, I just feel like he’s been part of some of these locker room divides we’ve heard about and that gives me a lot of pause.

The defenders are just as likely to be trade bait as they are good captains. The Blues have already felt like a rotating door for the C, even though it’s just the two captains since 2016, but you don’t want to be looking for a fourth in a season or two.

Next. National TV games no longer a great thing for Blues. dark

As a fan, I’m still looking forward to the upcoming season. However, not making a clear decision just adds more worry to a season that is already a question mark.