Marco Sandella earning his teeth in St. Louis.
No matter how the 2020-2021 season ends, one of the most indelible images of this season has got to be St. Louis Blues defensemen Marco Scandella, with McKenzie MacEachern, Ryan O’Reilly, and the two linesmen, searching the ice for his two missing teeth.
They were fake teeth, so there was no blood or any kind of gory scene. Still, how his teeth were removed from their restful place in his face had to do with an errant stick to the choppers.
As in, to the face.
In the previous game, Scandella suffered a cut that required stitches after an errant pass into the zone went off his mug. Scandella immediately went to the locker room and did not return to that game, which the Blues won 2-1.
Now, during the next contest, a 7-6 OT victory over the San Jose Sharks, Scandella was right back out on the ice – no worse for the wear. That is when he lost his two fake teeth after an errant stick made its way into his mouth.
That sparked the impromptu search and rescue mission. (The teeth were never found.)
Apparently, if you are Marco Scandella, those fake teeth were expensive enough to warrant the search party. Imagine being 12 and losing your retainer – that was Marco Scandella’s night.
Fans appreciated his grit. Taking a puck off the face and getting your teeth knocked out will do that around here.
“Scandella’s mouth has taken a beating. He took a puck to the lip two games ago and tonight he loses a few chiclets,” wrote fan STLBooze3 on Reddit.
“How many pair of stunt teeth does one man need?” asked fan Mosscock_treeman on the same thread.
Marco Scandella gets a high-stick to the face, loses a few teeth and didn't miss a shift!
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 2, 2021
Blues Marco Sandella becoming a cornerstone defenseman.
This season has been slow to start for Scandella, who missed six straight games in early February with the dreaded “upper-body injury.” It could not have come at a worse time for the Blues. The team is limping into its games after losing five key players since mid-February. The list includes: Jaden Schwartz (Feb. 15); Colton Parayko (Feb. 18); Ivan Barbashev (Feb. 20); Carl Gunnarsson (Feb. 24) and Scandella’s (Feb.24), as noted in a tweet by Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic.com
#stlblues lost to injury in the last 5 games:
Feb. 15: Schwartz
Feb. 18: Parayko, Barbashev
Feb. 20: None
Feb. 22: Gunnarsson
Feb. 24: Scandella
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) February 25, 2021
In the March 1 win over Anaheim, a 5-4 victory, Scandella had perhaps his best game this season with an assist, three shots on net, three blocked shots, and a plus-2 rating. The previous game against the San Jose Sharks saw Scandella get his first two goals of the year. He added an assist with five blocked shots and a plus-4 in the 7-6 slugfest.
The 31-year old former Montreal Canadian, which dealt him to the Blues for a pair of draft picks on Feb. 18, 2020. His addition to the Blues came at the expense of a major, major loss in Jay Bouwmeester.
The NHL’s Iron Man, Bouwmeester suffered a serious heart incident that forced the journeyman off the ice, and eventually into retirement a year later. With the well-publicized exit of Bouwmeester – with the juicy details of players ready to perform CPR on their fallen comrade on the bench. The game obviously got canceled, and amid the pandemonium and chaos of the incident, fans did not pay much mind to this new player from the Habs.
This season, he has played in 18 games, scoring two goals, and adding two assists. He is plus-9 with 14 penalty minutes. Along with Torey Krug and the much-maligned Justin Faulk, Scandella helps anchor an ailing D.
Stanley Cup hero Gunnarsson’s injury forced him into surgery and being lost for the season.
Coupled with the loss of captain Alex Pietrangelo in free agency, the Blues D was set to be heavily reliant on Colton Parayko. He has also spent time on the IR this season. The team, writers, and league executives all had very high hopes for Parayko to have a breakout year.
While Scandella profiles as a much different player than Parayko, Coach Craig Berube is giving the lanky Canadian his opportunity.
In his last 5 games, Scandella has been a consistent performer, and his unexpected two goals and an assist give him 3 points on the year. More impressive than that is the amount of ice time he has logged. Against the LA Kings on March 6, he played in 34 shifts amassing 23:44 of time on the ice. In those last five games, Scandella has averaged roughly 22 minutes per game.
He endured a difficult 12-month period that saw him get traded three times. He was traded by the Buffalo Sabres to Montreal in January 2020. A month later, he was dealt from the Habs to the Blues. Scandella signed a four-year deal worth an estimated $13.1 million in April.
Drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft, Scandella finally broke through to the Wild roster in 2011-12 when he played 63 games.
Scouts hailed Scandella as “a strong skating, physical, stay-at-home blueliner … (he) takes great delight in using his size and long wingspan to clear the front of his net. He thrives by playing a no-nonsense, simple game in his own end.”
But, the scouts also noted, “his decision-making ability and puck skills have room for improvement.”
“He looks like he is on his way to being a competent NHL defenseman in all zones, which is not a common skill-set. Finding a player like Scandella in the second round was good work by the Wild staff,” the scouting service concluded
And thanks to the lockout of 2012-2013, he appeared in just six of Minnesota’s 48 games that shortened season.
In 2013, Scandella made an impression on the Wild during the team’s playoff march. Although the Wild lost in five games to the Chicago Blackhawks, Scandella played what NHL.com called “the best hockey of his life.”
That performance would help him land a two-year contract extension with the Wild. He would become a willing shot blocker for them, and paired defensively with Jared Spurgeon, Scandella asserted himself as a physical defensive presence. He could also add some offensive punch. By 2014, Scandella led all Wild defensemen with 90 hits and 11 goals that season. In November 2014, he signed a five-year deal with the Wild where he played a key role for three years.
The Buffalo Sabres then landed Scandella in a deal with the Wild that included Jason Pomville and a fourth-rounder in June 2017. By 2020 he was on his way to his hometown Montreal, but his stint with the Habs lasted only a month before he was dealt to the Blues.
Montreal was not crazy about the idea of losing Scandella. He was to become an unrestricted free agent.
His Big Heart.
Scandella’s heart is in St. Louis, but a piece of it will always live in Montreal, his boyhood home. In June, he teamed with his childhood friend, a restaurant owner, to provide nearly 2,000 meals for front-line health-care workers in Montreal North.
The Montreal Gazette reported that Scandella paid more than $25,000 for the meals and even helped cook. He served as part of the meal delivery team.
WATCH: Marco Scandella Cook For Healthcare Workers in Montreal
“I’m just a kid from Montreal and I want to be someone who does well for his community,” he told the Gazette in June. “I was talking with (my) mom and I was thinking about the stress these doctors, nurses and hospital employees are under right now. Just the burden they have to take care of the community. It’s a very tough job. … It’s a small gesture to thank them for putting their health on the line for public safety. It felt like the right thing to do.”
A bit of trivia that linked Scandella to St. Louis even before he got here. Marco is the nephew of former Blues and Canadiens forward Sergio Momesso.
“I’m 30 years old so it’s not like I have 10 years left, though you never know,” Scandella told the Montreal Gazette in June 2020.
“I feel like every year you’re healthy is an opportunity and you never know if you’re going to get another one,” he told his hometown paper. “That’s why I signed a four-year deal with St. Louis. It gives me a chance to win (The Stanley Cup) every year with a veteran team that’s done it, that knows how to play the right way. I just feel really lucky to be part of that group.”
With the Blues losing a defenseman a game … trust me, we are lucky to have you!
Thanks for reading.
Now back to full strength …
A St. Louis Blues blogger, NHL podcaster, and writer for the STL Fan Report.