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Despite NHL’s bad news, Blues looking good

While the rest of the NHL, and all of us fans, are going through some emotional and mental turmoil regarding the looming lockout, St. Louis is making moves that show they’re positive attitude about the season. Recently the Blues named a new East Coast Hockey League affiliate in the Evansville Icemen.  Blues Assistant General Manager and Peoria Rivermen General Manager, Kevin McDonald made the announcement and expressed how excited he, and the organization, was about the acquisition.

Evansville joins the best AA hockey league in North America as it also serves as the ECHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. McDonald went on to comment on the positive potential in the coaching for Evansville in the form of Rick Kromm, who has NHL playing experience and a solid coaching career. Kromm also serves as Evansville’s General Manager. The news replaces the Alaska Aces and their affiliation with St. Louis. On a larger stage and at the same time, the Blues showed off their new young talent in Vladimir Tarasenko to both the media and the public recently.

The 20-year-old Russain arrived in St. Louis not long ago and began skating with the team, appearing to fit right in to a well-established club and a city proud of its history. Tarasenko, the Blues’ first round draft pick, is expected to carry a heavy load on his shoulder pads this season, if there is a season, and is the talk of many Blues hockey critics. There’s no doubt or secret that the microscope will be focused on Tarasenko. But what both of these events mean on a larger scale for the club is that they have hope for the team, lockout or not.

It’s true that a lockout will hinder the Blues during a time when they are building solid, steady momentum. But by making positive moves and transitions is a sign that they haven’t lost hope, and that the belief in a strong and successful performance is alive and well.
Which is a concept that fits the St. Louis fan-base. Although the Blues aren’t one of the Original Six NHL teams, they are a part of the lesser known Expansion Six-six teams that expanded into the NHL in 1967. The first three seasons the Blues were in the NHL, they saw the playoffs. Their tradition runs deep and passionate to St. Louis sports fans. With a history of a gritty-blue collar approach, Blues fans respond to a team that plays the role of the workhorse.

Six numbers are retired and hang in the rafters of the Scottrade Center, while 16 names that used to be on the Blues’ roster are now enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Though the Blues have no Stanley Cup Championship banners, St. Louis fans will be quick to mention the 25 consecutive playoff appearances by their Bluenotes. From Red Berenson who joined the Blues from the New York Rangers in 1967 alongside arguably the greatest captain in Blues history, Brent Sutter, to All-Stars like Al MacInnis and Brett Hull in the 1990’s, up to T.J. Oshie and Alex Pietrangelo on the current roster, Blue-blood runs deep.

So while hockey fans in St. Louis may be worried and upset about the NHL’s impending work stoppage, they can be optimistic that when their team does finally hit the ice, they’ll be ready.



David Schauer is an award-winning, professional writer who has been involved in organized hockey for over twenty years. He has been published hundreds of times; about the same number of times he has been checked into the boards.

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