Blues Christmas wish lists
From our entire St. Louis Blues family to yours, have a safe and happy holiday season. pic.twitter.com/MUTu3YOR9R
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) December 21, 2021
It is that day, Christmas eve. The day before the day you get the things you had hoped and wished for. It is so hard to sleep the night before; it does not matter if you are five or 95. Christmas day can be special. But no matter how hard you wish for things, how many lists you make, there is that one special thing. The item that you want the most but you tell no one about.
Unfortunately, most times, this is a gift that you don’t get. It is the thing that only the people who know you the most know about it, and the ones that are just not sure you should have it. Like Peter and his BB gun. Or the kid that wants a puppy, but they are not ready for the responsibility yet.
NHL teams and their players are no different. This holiday season has been harder on the league and their teams than most years. The Holiday break is normally three or four days. This season, the Global pandemic has altered the way we see the holidays and the current season. Just today the league announced that the holiday break would be extended to the 28th of December to allow for increased testing and to better understand how the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is affecting players and teams.
Every team has lost players to the virus at some point this season and teams have had to use the Emergency Back-Up Goalie (E-Bug) most this season than they have in the last 4 seasons combined. Teams have also had to play one or two men short some more than once. Note: I could not find solid E-bug stats so that statement may a bit off but used to show the difference in the season.
With everything that is going on, I figured the Blues and her players may not have had enough time to make their special list, so I decided to help them out.
Tom Stillman, Owner
The team owner and face of the franchise wants fans in the stands. While he may want that every year, it may matter the most this season. The Blues are one team that spends up to or near the salary cap every season. In the last three seasons, the cap has flattened out and caused teams to struggle or get creative. The Blues are also a team that operates at or below the break-even point every year. In 2019, the team did not make a profit until game one or two of the Stanley Cup finals.
While the team has been successful, every business owner knows you can not continue to operate at a loss. As covid continues to rage, and local and national governments tighten regulations, the prospect of no fans could have a butterfly effect on many seasons to come.
Doug Armstrong, General Manager (GM)
I do not envy to position Doug Armstrong is in. The thing he wants the most might just be the thing the NHL gives him after the pause, Cap Space. the pandemic has forced teams to lose players just before puck drop and the flat cap I talked about has had a negative ripple throughout the leagues. According to the site, Capfriendly.com, 19 of the league’s 32 teams are using the LTIR exemption. Twelve of those teams have no project cap space. Five teams in including the Blues have less than the rookie minimum left.
The league sees COVID as no different from a cold as far as the cap is involved. While I understand this, if a player has a cold, he may be out a couple of days at the most and he might not even miss a game depending on the severity. We cannot say the same if a player tests positive for covid-19. Any player who shows symptoms and tests positive must sit out a minimum of 10 days. Even if his symptoms go away quickly and he has negative tests.
The league is looking into this and Armstrong might be the only one on this list to get his coveted wish.
Craig Berube, Head Coach,
This is another obvious wish. Berube wants his lame-duck status to go away and get a contract extension. While in the past I have been critical of the head coach, he has evolved this season. He has endured more injuries and missing players than he has in any previous season as the leader of the Note.
His use of younger players and his trust in them, even if it might have been forced, is paying off. The “ThunderBlues” have come in and been perfect aftermarket parts. replacing veterans like David Perron and Brayden Schenn. Nathan Walker, the only player from Down Under to play in the league, doubled his career goal total in one night with a hat trick. Logan Brown, the St Louis Native, scored a goal in his first game, right in front of his proud papa Jeff Brown.
These moves and others have told me he is the right coach for this team.
Ryan O’Reilly, Capitan,
The face-off king’s wish is easy. He wants bigger shoulders to hold all that responsibility he puts on himself. While endearing to some, others find it a bit hard to swallow, are his post-game press conferences. Whether it was a strong win or a poor performance loss, the man wearing the “C” always says, “That is on me” or “I need to do better.” Many in the Base feel that this is just him being a good leader. To me, it is the boy who cried wolf in reverse.
I understand that as the Capitan you are the voice of the locker room and one of the major faces of the team, however, it is not always on you. There are times when he say “We” but it is almost always followed up with him putting it on his shoulders. The weight has to be exceeding the maximum load.
Cap, it is ok if you say ” It is something the boys and I need to talk about.” or “Yea, we as a team need to work on that.” I think the guys will understand you calling the team out every now and then and letting a few other leaders in the room shoulder some of that weight.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Assistant Capitan.
This season for the Russian snipper has been interesting to say the least. From requesting a trade to being in the Selke Conversation. Well, if he is not, he should be. Tarasenko has taken his game to a new level that astute fans can see. He has become a guy that can poke check at the blueline, preventing a breakout, to a hard for-checking, pass first, draw a crowd kind of guy.
The Yaroslav native is playing some of his best hockey as we enter this break. Once Berube created the Spetsnaz line, pairing him with fellow offensive-minded Russians, Ivan Barbashev and Pavel Buchnevich, he also created a “MonStar.” Yes, I’m referencing Space Jam.
While many fans point to a press conference where his coach, Berube, said he would talk to him about his offense as the reason for this outburst, I think it has more to do with him trying to be a Berube-type player first and a sniper second. whatever the reason, I like what I am seeing.
He Would like the Cloke of invisibility, so fans do not see and magnify all of his mistakes and he does not become the next Zach Sanford.
Colton Parayko, Assistant Capitan,
A new sight for his howitzer. The man has a cannon for a shot and he needs to use it. He also needs to not be afraid of it.
He wants a deal with Busch Beer. it is just right.
He needs to find the Fountain of Middle Age. He has played better in his middle hockey years than he did in his first years in the league.
Another simple one, he wants his swagger, “Do I look nervous” back. Not that he has played badly, but we all know he can play better.
Robby Fabbri and Paul Stastny, Former Blues,
They want to play the Blues 82 games a year.
Well, boys and girls, it is getting late. And Santa is close to arriving here in the Islands. So I leave the rest of the list for you to finish. What wishes did I miss? Which one did I get Right, and which ones did I get wrong?
Ohh My Wish you May ask, I want to be a hockey writer and a professional journalist. Yea, I know I should just keep wishing.
Till next time hockey fans,
Guy “Hawaii Hockey Fan” Bensing
@hawaiibluesfan @BluenotereporBlueNote Fan Report