On December 17th, 2020, Blues’ Forward Alexander Steen, in a press release announced his retirement from the NHL after 15 seasons. Steen stated that he had “multiple degenerative herniated disks in his lumbar spine.”
The timing of the announcement comes as a bit of a shock to Blues fans. Just a few months earlier during a press conference, General Manager Doug Armstrong informed us that “Steen would begin the season on long-term injured reserve(LTIR).” After consulting with his family and his doctors, the day after the birth of his son, he decided to hang the skates up. Armstrong stated, “it was hard for him to tie his shoes”.
Steen will be placed on LTIR. His retirement will become official at the conclusion of the 2021 season. While we all are saddened by the news, we wish him and his family the best of luck and that his health will improve. This would be a great time to look back on the amazing career this champion has had, along with a look at what he may do next.
Steen’s Swedish Career:
Alexander Steen, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and son of former Jets great Thomas Steen was drafted 24th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs out of Frölunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). Steen had been with Frölunda since he was 16.
Prior to the 2004-2005 season, he signed a contract with Modo, also of the SHL. This turned into a controversial signing, his agent had sent a written confirmation without Steen’s knowledge to Frölunda stating that he would extend his contract. Steen in turn had wanted to wait until he had a chance to visit Toronto before signing. Steen wanted to test the waters to see if he should turn pro or return to Sweden to hone his skills.
He spent a season with Modo, then turn pro, joining Toronto Maple Leafs.
Steen’s Professional Career begins with Toronto:
Steen made his NHL debut on October 5th, 2005 against the Ottawa Senators, 3 days later he scored his first NHL goal against the Montreal Canadiens, marking the first time that a Swedish father and son duo each scored a goal in the NHL.
Steen had his best season with the Leafs his rookie year. Scoring 18 goals and getting 27 assists for 45 points while suiting up for 75 games. His sophomore season saw a dip in point production 15G 20A 35P while playing all 82 games.
Steen was chosen to represent Team Sweden in the 2007 IIHF World Championships. (Steen has dual citizenship.) He played 9 games scoring 4 points, 2G 2A.
He would play 96 more games for the Maple Leafs, finishing with 50 goals and 76 assists for 126 points in 253 games. On November 24th, 2008, he was traded along with Carlo Colaiacovo to the Blues for Lee Stempniak. Doug Armstrong who was in his first year with the St. Louis Blues in player development put a bug in GM Larry Pleau ear about both players. The thinking being they would be able to land one of them.
Steen arrives in St Louis:
Steen registered 24 points in his first year playing 61 games. Getting his first taste of the Playoffs. The first-round sweep by the Vancouver Canucks, left a sour taste in his mouth with him only getting an assist.
Steen doubled his point total, registering 47 points, in 2009-10. While missing the playoffs he was still able to sign a four-year contract extension in the off-season.
The next few years saw continued success for both the Blue and Steen. After missing the playoff in 2010-11, they finished first in the division and were the second seed in the conference in 2011-2012 beating the sharks in 5 games before being swept by the eventual Cup champion L.A. Kings.
Steen became a consistent 50-60-point scorer, while also being a locker room leader and mentor.
Steen learns to win.
After the 2013-2014 season, Steen signed a 3-year contract extension. He had a breakout season recording career highs in both goals, (33) and points, (62) despite missing 11 games due to a concussion.
Steen also represented Sweden at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, bringing home a silver medal.
Steen was nominated by the St. Louis chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.
In the 2014-2015 season, he registered 64 points (24G 40A) in 74 games played, but the Blues playoff struggles continued as they were again bounced in the first round for the third year in a row.
The next season 2015-2016 turned into an extremely successful year for Steen and the Blues. Steen netted 17 goals to go along with 35 helpers for 52 points. The team finally broke thru in the playoff going all the way to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Sharks in 6 games. Steen contributed 10 points and one game-winning goal.
The Blues’ success continued the next year with Steen posting 51 points in the regular season and another 7 in the playoff where the Blues lost in the second round to the Nashville Predators.
When it looked as if the team was in its prime in 2017-2018 leading the league in points early in November. December and January things took a turn for the worst and the Blues found themselves amid a losing streak, that cost longtime Coach Ken Hitchcock his job. Rumors of a split locker room began to surface with Steen being at the forefront. While we in the cheap seats may never know what truly went down, the Blues missed the playoffs for the first time in 6 years.
The 2018-2019 season started with high expectations, however, whatever had infected the Blues the past season was still there. The team did not win back-to-back games till December. Steen along with his teammates were all flying the team flag upside down. For a second time in two years, the Blues changed head coaches midstream.
Mike Yeo was relieved of his duties on Nov 20th, 2018 after a devastating loss to the last-place Los Angeles Kings. Former NHL Defenseman Craig Berube was named interim coach. Berube proved to be the long-term antibiotic the team needed. The first thing he did was lay the law down in the locker room. The second thing was to change up the current depth chart and move Steen to the fourth line. While many might have considered this a demotion Steen took it in stride and accepted his new role and the “Chief” (Berube nickname) rolled four lines and let Steen mentor the younger and up and coming players.
The Blues went from last in the league in points on January 2nd to a franchise-record 11 game winning streak, to embedded in the playoff race.
The Magical Run
The Blues started a magical run to the Stanley Cup in 2019, Steen now entrenched in a fourth-line role impressed his fellow mates including journeyman Chris Butler who commented “The Blues won the Stanley Cup largely in part because of Alexander Steen, because he goes down and solidifies the fourth line that you could put down there against any single line in the league and does it without complaining, without raising a stink and being a distraction. He went down there and played that role better than anybody else could have done it and that was such a selfless thing to do. It just shows what type of person he is to put the team ahead of him at all costs.”
Blues Defenseman Colton Parayko also remarked about Steen accepting a different role to support his team, “When he stepped into that role and embraced it, that’s when you know you have a special teammate. When he goes into that role and embraces it and does it to the best of his ability, ultimately that was a big part of us winning the Stanley Cup. He was a selfless teammate, a selfless player.”
Berube showed his confidence in Steen and his linemate by Starting them in every single game of the Cup Finals.
Steen, who Darren Pang called an “old soul” During an interview with the BlueNote Fan Report, showed his spirit and his willingness to help the team win by becoming one of the Blue’s best defensive players and a key component of their Stanley Cup win. He was the Third man to receive the Cup after long-time Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.
He finished the 2019 playoffs with 5 points and a +2, but it was his forechecking and his ability to get the little things done that help make him a Stanley Cup Champion.
Steen played during the 2019-2020 season despite suffering the back injury that ultimately ended his career.
He Played his 1000 game on February 1st, 2020. During the early part of the NHL’s return to play in the Edmonton bubble it flared up, and he was not able to continue playing. His last NHL game came on August 14th 2020 against the Vancouver Canucks.
He finished his career with 622 points in 1,018 NHL games. And the admiration of his teammates and the fans.
What is Next?
A tearful Alexander Steen addressed the media a few days after the announcement and said he was going to take care of his health but would like to stay in the game.
Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong during the announcement presser stated that “If he wants to stay in the game, he has all the pedigree to coach or manage or do whatever he wants.” a future, role behind the Blues bench or in the front office are some of the possibilities for Steen.
In an earlier article, I stated that I understood what it was like to be in your mid-30’s and not doing the only thing you had done for over two decades. As Steen comes to grips with his injury and gets to “enjoy” his midnight crying machine, he will be better able to plan his next steps and he can also reminisce about some of his career accomplishments.
October 2013, Named the first star of the month.
2013-2014 season, Received Hart Trophy consideration
Received Selke Trophy consideration 7 times
1018 Games, 245 Goals, 377 Assists, 622 points
And we can not forget 1 Stanley Cup Ring.
Till next time Hockey FANS.
Do not forget to drop me a comment or three
Remember by a fan, for the fans, and most definitely About YOU the FAN.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing and Caitlan Loggins
*Source of stats in the article: https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/s/steenal01.html