Sunday Sports Review hosted by Mark Bausch
Mike Huss' Take Five
posted February 4
Random thoughts & observations as the calendar changes from January & February
Just what in the world is going on at the University of Missouri-Columbia?
Happy 93rd birthday, Red Schoendienst
Has it really been fourteen years since the two-touchdown favorite St. Louis Rams were defeated by the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI: starting the legend that is Bill Belichick and Tom Brady?
Speaking about going down memory lane, will 2016 really be the fifth year of Albert Pujols as a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?
AND FINALLY FROM THE “COMING ATTRACTIONS” BUREAU: So with no teams from either New York or Boston, inquiring minds wonder if the World Wide Leader in Cable Sports Broadcasting will even cover Super Bowl L or will the network simply start their opening night pre-game shows for the Yankees vs. Red Sox
Comments? Contact Mike at: firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s nothing quite like meaningful hockey in March!
With the Blues (101 points) in front of the Blackhawks (93 points) in the NHL’s Central Division by eight points, a win tonight in Chicago’s United Center would likely put the Blues in the driver’s seat for home-ice in a CHI-STL playoff series.
Tonight’s game will highlight the importance of the Blues’ acquisition of G Ryan Miller, who is 7-0-1 (0.933 save percentage) since his move to St. Louis from Buffalo. So watch Ryan Miller…and watch how his play inspires his teammates.
For Chicago—a hockey commentator somewhere on this planet noted that captain Jonathan Toews, who has led the ‘Hawks to two Stanley Cups before his 26th birthday (April 29), may very well be the greatest Blackhawk in the history of the franchise.
Think about that—Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Denis Savard (to say nothing of goaltenders Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito)…is Toews superior to these five?
If Stanley Cups matter…the answer is yes.
So watch Ryan Miller tonight…but also watch Jonathan Toews…and how the Blues attempt to contain Toews (and his skillful wingman Patrick Kane).
This weekend in San Francisco that rich & arrogant cartel better known as the National Football League is holding its annual debutant ball. All week there will be all sorts of pre-game hype, silliness, bad behavior, pomp & circumstance occurring in Tony Bennett’s City by the Bay. It all leads up to Sunday’s kickoff and the play-by-play description of the annoying Jim Nantz.
Here in the 314-flyover country, our town is still smarting over the Rams’ recent decision to bolt for the riches, gold and high taxes of Southern California. Many in our region feel like that jilted teenage girl whose starting quarterback prom date just walked away from her for the captain of the cheerleaders.
As the wounds slowly heal, many of the local big shots are trying move on. St. Louis will likely not be an NFL city ever again. This well is too poisoned. NFL interest locally is hostile. Right or wrong, two teams leaving the Gateway City in 25 or so years translate to a tarnished image.
Now the region is searching for and seems focused on a consolation prize: one that will attempt to restore the region’s self-esteem while trying to recoup some of that discretionary income.
Allow me to spell the newest best option: MLS
Over the past few years Major League Soccer has rivaled the National Hockey League in area of expansion. The League’s plans call for 24 teams by 2020: with Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minnesota set to join the league during the next three years. But they are not stopping there. "There is no shortage of demand for MLS expansion teams, and we believe the opportunity exists to grow beyond our current plans," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. "During the next few months, we will evaluate the possibility of growing the league to 28 teams and establish a process and timeline should we decide on further expansion."
Given these MLS plans and given St. Louis now has a hole in its sports portfolio, we just might have a marriage right here in river city. Soccer has a deep tradition in our town. Many members of the greatest generation and prior played the game as they immigrated to America. Several St. Louis kids played on that 1950 United States World Cup team with shocked the globe with a 1-0 win over England. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s loads of local urchins played the game from Carondelet Park to Forest Park to Fairgrounds Park. During this span St. Louis University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville were kings of NCAA soccer. A 1970s letter writing campaign brought the great Pele’ to town to play in an exhibition at Busch Stadium II. A hybrid of outdoor soccer soared indoors during the 1980s: as many of the local kids played for the St. Louis Steamers before packed houses at the old Arena on Oakland Avenue. Recently, large crowds have filled Busch III and the Dome for international matches and World Cup qualifiers.
So yeah, there might be a fit here. To that end Sam Stejskal of MLSoccer.com wrote: “The Major League Soccer-to-St. Louis bandwagon picked up a little bit of steam on 1/27/16, when Missouri Governor Jay Nixon told reporters that he’s scheduled to talk with Garber about a potential expansion franchise for St. Louis. “I look forward to working with you, your staff and local leaders to explore ownership candidates and to investigate viable stadium solutions to bring MLS to St. Louis,” Garber said in the letter”
In a January 2016 interview with Sports Illustrated Garber continued to plant seeds and tease: “St. Louis has been on our radar screen as long as the league’s been in existence. We’ve never been able to find the right investor. We’ve never been able to find the right stadium solution. We know that there’s a stadium possibility – whether or not that’s an MLS possibility [is] still to be seen, “We know that there’s support for a facility in a great location and we’ve had discussions with those that were part of that project about bringing MLS to town. So the fact that there’s one fewer pro team there I think is a positive for our league as it relates to St. Louis.”
This all sounds great. But forgive this bureau on being skeptical. To this untrained eye, three questions have to be answered honestly before the MLS even considers St. Louis
First: is there someone in the 314 with an extra $100 Million for the expansion fee for an MLS team? The last time I looked there are not many members of that club in this town.
Secondly: just where will this team play? A new soccer stadium: just who will pay for it? While there have been some glitzy photos and big talk last week about the building of a new soccer palace behind Union Station, exactly who will be signing the check and how much public money is involved? Those big talkers might want to first chat with one Mr. David Peacock for his experience on exploring public cash.
Thirdly and perhaps most importantly: will the MLS be successful in St. Louis? Will this work? I really hope the push for professional soccer in St. Louis is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Rams move to LA. Hopefully this is not a mad rush to find that elusive prom date after being jilted by the big man on campus. If St Louis wants to venture into these waters they should do it methodically and analytically: not haphazardly and emotionally. The luring of an MLS franchise is an expensive proposition that cannot be taken lightly. We need to find out, justify and confirm if this Baseball Town really will support Major League Soccer. Is there enough corporate support for this venture? If they build a soccer stadium, will they really come?
Finally, I remember watching a prior movie. In the spring of 1997 I was hosting sports talk radio locally on WGNU-AM. Gateway International Raceway opened its doors in Madison, Illinois. The new brickyard was the talk of the town and the talk of the local media. I remember being bombarded by PR spokespersons from all aspects of professional racing for interviews and promotional time. I was not alone as many of my local media colleagues also were also contacted a lot. Many local scribes, gab-masters and TV talking heads were more gullible and naïve than me: as they did live broadcasts/stories from the pit, drove a race car around the oval track, hung out with drivers and got their pictures taken with pretty girls. The industry’s targeted marketing plan worked. The message back in the spring of 1997 is how St. Louis would be the new hot bed for auto sports. Just like that auto racing became St. Louis’ new flavor of the week.
Well, it’s now almost nineteen years later. How did that turn out, eh?
The last thing St. Louis needs right now is another business/sports team bolting town or failing. Regarding the MLS, this town needs to make sure this is done right: is done at all.
This week that rich & arrogant cartel better known as the National Football League is holding its annual debutant ball in San Francisco. Here in the 314-flyover country, our town is still smarting over the Rams’ decision three weeks ago to leave town and bolt for the riches, gold of SoCal.
The region is searching for and seems focused on a consolation prize: one that will attempt to restore the region’s self-esteem while trying to recoup some of that discretionary income.
Professional Soccer might be the answer.
But let’s all make sure first, shall we?
Have the Rams Played Their Last Game in STL?
On Thursday night December 17, 2015 on the artificial tundra at the facility formerly known as the Trans World Dome the St. Louis Rams in their bright yellow uniforms took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wear solid red uniforms. Both teams entered the game with losing records. Watching this struggle on TV likely stirred the memories of Millennials to those of Power Rangers playing football. When the final gun sounded the Rams defeated the Bucs 31-23.
Thursday might have been the final home game of the St. Louis Rams. Thanks to the greatest lease ever crafted in the history of professional sports, Team Owner Stan Kroenke and his Rams are allowed to bolt town and the Gateway City can’t stop him. It would not cost Kroenke a dime to move his team to sunny California, San Antonio, Texas, London, or somewhere in between
Local football followers know too well the story of how Kroenke purchased land in Inglewood, California and then in January announced his intention on building a football stadium with an entertainment center attached. Logic tells you that one would not construct a $1 Billion+ football palace unless there is a team to play in it. Kroenke owns a football team. You do the math.
Meanwhile, City fathers, media and fans insisted this region would not be pushed around and counterpunched with plans for a brand new football stadium on the banks of the Mississippi. January’s knee jerk reaction was long on talk but short on specifics. Smart money still believed the Rams would be back in Southern California in 2016.
But then a Wild Card, possible Game Changer and perhaps St. Louis lifeline arrived out of the blue. In February it was announced that the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders (two teams unhappy with their stadium situations) would combine forces and resources to build a football palace of their own: this one in Carson, California. It’s now like a climax scene from the classic TV series Gunsmoke: with Inglewood and Carson staring each other down.
And here we are: high noon.
We suggested many times in this space during 2015 that two things MUST occur in order for the chance of the Rams staying in St. Louis. The first is the Carson plan must be solid and litigation free. That Raiders/Chargers plan seems to be picking up traction. A most impressive sign was the plan’s hiring of Disney Corp’s CEO Bob Iger as the group’s chairperson. One would have to assume that a powerful guy like Iger would never have agreed to the job without a strong probability the plan would get the nod over Kroenke. League Big Shots will likely accept Iger’s phone calls as among Disney’s holdings is one of that rich & arrogant cartel better known as the National Football League’s funding partners. Allow me to spell it: ESPN. So it does appear that the Carson plan is solid and to some pundits is now ahead of Kroenke on the race to California.
The second hurdle this bureau suggested is the St. Louis Riverfront stadium must be financially sound and litigation-proof. Over the past months the St. Louis group has acquired riverfront property, won court challenges, secured high-dollar naming rights and just yesterday gained approval from the St. Louis Board of Aldermen for their share of funding for the project. City of St. Louis residents were not allowed to vote on the proposal but were allowed to watch their elected officials to spend their money on a project that may or may not occur.
This week, the St. Louis Task Force thought they received an early Christmas gift from the NFL in the form of additional league funding for the project. As expected the local media took at face value and the celebration started. But the one thing that rich & arrogant cartel better known as the National Football League does not joke about is money. In a 12/17/15 strongly-worded clarification to Chairman of the Stadium Task Force Dave Peacock, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote “The NFL G-4 Program permits a club to request stadium financing up to a maximum of $200 Million, provided that certain requirements are met. No proposal has yet been presented to increase the available financing beyond the current $200 Million maximum and there can be no assurance that such a proposal would achieve the necessary support.”
Well, I guess that clears that up. Bottom line, the St. Louis group has made strong strides in their stadium proposal to keep the Rams in the 314. While not fully complete it is fair to say that St. Louis’ presentation will likely has more specifics, is more complete and advanced than those than the competing bids of San Diego and Oakland.
The matter now goes to the Lords of that rich & arrogant cartel better known as the National Football League. Much like Judge Judy or the trio of three robed arbitrators on the TV Show “Hot Bench”, the Lords will make their final ruling.
To this untrained and uneducated eye, it appears that according the League’s relocation guidelines, the Lou has checked more required boxes than the two California teams on the League’s honey-do list. Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports.com: writes “Rams owner Stan Kroenke is likely stuck in St. Louis for another year, and he is focused on a possible move to Los Angeles and is not in the business of paying people $6 million plus to leave for a product he isn't all that engaged in right now, anyway. Kroenke's best-case scenario now is to have any moves to Los Angeles pushed back until 2017. It's hard to imagine his Inglewood stadium projects get 24 votes by mid-January, and that will lead to the status quo for the most part.”
Perhaps true. But at the end of the day the Lords of that rich & arrogant cartel better known as the National Football League will do whatever they want: likely whatever makes them the most money. Their relocation rules are actually just guidelines: in reality, suggested guidelines.
This is what St. Louis should fear the most: what occurs behind closed doors. Sometime back influential Dallas Cowboy Owner Jerry Jones strongly endorsed Kroenke to LA boldly announcing the League can’t stop him. (Side Note: inquiring minds do wonder if Cowboy Jerry would feel the same way if his BFF Silent Stan wanted to relocate to San Antonio versus LA.)
Much like the City of St. Louis residents in the stadium funding vote, Gateway City football fans’ vote in the process do not count and will watch it all unfold helplessly from afar.
So now our town needs to trust the Lords of that rich & arrogant cartel better known as the National Football League. Please forgive this bureau’s skepticism over the events, rules and the process and for having this gut-felling this process will not end well for St. Louis.
On Sunday December 13, 1987 the St. Louis Football Cardinals hosted the New York Giants in their final 1987 regular season home game. It was a 3:05PM kickoff played on the artificial surface at Busch Stadium II. The Big Red won the game 27-24: improving the team’s record to 6-7. St Louis’ final score that afternoon came on a Stump Mitchell 6-yard rush. The Cardinals would finish the 1987 season with a 7-8 record. The Big Red never returned to St. Louis to play another home game.
Last Thursday, the St. Louis Rams defeated Tampa Bay in the last home regular season game of 2015. It was a 3:05PM kickoff played on the artificial surface at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams won the game 31-23: improving the team’s record to 6-8. Second verse same as the first? Perhaps: but eerie indeed.
Let the process begin.
Maybe it’s just me, but Thursday’s final gun sounds a lot like the chime signaling High Noon.
Last Saturday (March 1), Harry Caray would have been 100 years old.
No kidding: It might be—it could be—it is: a century
For those of us baby boomers that grew up in the Gateway City, state of Missouri, the Ozark region or throughout the Midwest, Harry Caray was the soundtrack of summer. For a quarter century, Caray was the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals. His style was unique and no holds bar. His voice boomed describing the exploits of Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and others. For twenty-five years, Harry Caray was the sound of St. Louis baseball.
In the world where one can be immediately identified by their first name (Elvis, Ozzie, Madonna, etc), if back in the day you said that “Harry” was on the radio, you knew exactly who was on the air. For many of us growing up in the 1960s and earlier, Caray’s familiar, bold and dramatic musings heard through a transistor radio muffled under a pillow (as we were hiding it from our parents after being sent to bed) created the perfect ending to a summer’s evening.
Born Harry Christopher Carabina from Italian and Romanian parents, he grew up on La Salle Street on the near south side of St. Louis on 3/1/1914. Caray’s father died when he was an infant and his mother died when he was around eight years old. In essence he grew up as an orphan.
In his youth Caray played semipro baseball before auditioning for a radio job at age nineteen. It was then when young Harry found his calling. He would cut his teeth in the radio business in markets such as Joliet, Illinois and Kalamazoo, Michigan before returning to his home town. He joined the Cardinals radio broadcast team in 1945. It was here in St. Louis and particularly behind a hot KMOX radio microphone where the legend of Harry Caray evolved.
It was Caray’s voice that narrated the stories of the successful seasons of the mid/late 1940s, the challenging 1950s and the memorable 1960s for the Cardinals. But it was during the down years of the 1950s when Caray’s career rose to prominence. In February 1953, August A. Busch, Jr. convinced his Anheuser-Busch Board of Directors to purchase the Cardinals from Fred Saigh. The Big Eagle and Harry Caray were both cut from the same cloth. Both wanted to be the center of attention. Both appreciated pretty girls. Both were Type-A. Both were highly competitive.
But most importantly, both could sell beer. That alliance would make Harry larger than life. Over the KMOX airwaves he was an unabashed homer. But above all, he could sell beer. Busch once referred to Caray as his best beer salesman. The bond was then formed.
Behind Busch’s influence, the powerful KMOX signal and Caray’s bombastic style the Cardinal radio network became the largest in the Major Leagues. Prior to 1957, St. Louis was the westernmost franchise. Cardinal fans were emerging west of the Mississippi. Caray was the evangelist. Casual and non-baseball fans listened to the games only to hear what Harry had to say. During it all, he promoted and pushed Budweiser. The match seemed made in heaven.
The Cardinals went to the World Series three times during the 1960s: winning it all twice. After advancing to the series in 1967 and 1968, St. Louis was expected to make it a three-peat. It didn’t happen. In 1969 St. Louis finished a disappointing third in the newly created NL East. But days after the final out, a bombshell was dropped in the Gateway City. Harry Caray and the Cardinals parted ways. The larger than life broadcaster was out as Cardinal broadcaster.
There have been many of urban legends as to what led to the split. We’ll never know for sure. But we did observe in a pre-cable, pre-internet era, that the divorce was far from amicable.
Leaving St. Louis, Caray took his talents to Oakland where he spent one season working for the colorful Charles O Finley’s A’s. One year later, Caray was signed as an announcer by legendary owner and promoter Bill Veeck of the Chicago White Sox. It would not take long for Harry to discover that Chicago was indeed his kind of town.
During Caray’s tenure on the south side, the White Sox were not very good. In his first season the Sox went 56-106. The high water mark was 1977 when they won 90 games. During Caray’s time on the South Side, the Sox had a losing record in eight seasons.
But despite the ineptness on the field, fans listened to the White Sox games because of Harry Caray. Partnered with the colorful and unpredictable Jimmy Piersall, the broadcasts were more entertaining than the games. Caray introduced Comiskey Park fans to the familiar chant from the musical group Steam as pitchers were removed from the game or when the Sox were going to win: “na-na-na-na---na-na-na-na-----hey, hey, hey---Good Bye”.
Caray and Piersall would broadcast games from the bleachers. On July 12, 1979 Harry spoke over the Comiskey Park PA pleading for calm on “Disco Demolition Night” where the Sox had to forfeit the second game of a doubleheader. Fans rushed the field causing extensive damage.
Yep, the White Sox were not very good then—but it was sure fun to listen to the games.
In 1982, Caray moved to the north side of Chicago: signing a contract to broadcast games for the Cubs. It was there through the magic and power of the WGN-TV Superstation signal where Harry Caray would be introduced to a new generation of baseball fans. The Cubs turned Harry loose over the airwaves and it proved to be reality television at its finest. The Cubs were not very good. But just like when with the White Sox, baseball fans tuned in to hear Caray offer his insight and opinions: from trying to pronounce player’s names backwards to welcoming who at the ball park that day to saluting the smallest towns throughout the fruited plain.
During his stay with the Cubs, Caray introduced his trademark: the seventh inning stretch singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. Regardless of the score or the loyalty, Wrigley Field fans sang along with Harry: as Caray, then in his 70s, used his microphone as a baton.
My last conversation with Harry was in 1996. It was during a Saturday afternoon game at Busch Stadium II between the Cardinals and Cubs. Prior to the game, I was in the press lounge. Sitting very quietly in the corner was Harry Caray watching the Fox Network pre-game show. On the screen was his grandson Chip. As I passed his table, Harry smiled and said to me, “isn’t he great?” I politely smiled, agreed continued some small talk. During it all Harry just kept smiling.
So here is this larger than life personality I grew up listening to via a transistor radio under my pillow savoring the moment as a proud grandfather. I started smiling also.
In 1989, Harry would be inducted into the Broadcaster’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a year later, into the National Radio Hall of Fame. He suffered a stroke in 1987. But Caray would not leave the broadcast booth. Then in February 1998, Caray fell at a restaurant and suffered a head injury. He died February 18, 1998 of cardiac arrest with resulting brain damage.
1998 was the season of the great Home Chase that rescued baseball from the 1994 Work Stoppage. The Cardinals’ Mark Mc Guire and the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa would blast long flies in pursuit of Roger Maris’s single season home run record. It would have been fun and perhaps fitting had Harry hung around one more year to describe those events as only he could.
Today, television (particularly cable television) is the primary outlet for baseball. The legendary baseball voices from past years have been replaced by some combination of blow-dried polished announcers and former ball players: each parroting team written talking points and are nothing more than an extension of the team’s marketing department. You know: always remember that good seats are available, always look for the positives and never criticize the Home Team.
I wonder if Harry Caray would have been hired as a broadcaster in today’s environment. My thinking is probably not. And that’s too bad. Games were sure more fun during Harry’s day.
Last Saturday (March 1), Harry Caray would have been 100 years old.
On the same date the
Beatles made their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show a half century
earlier, this Sunday will also mark the twenty-fifth anniversary
of the death of long-time St. Louis Blues broadcaster Dan Kelly. He
once was called the "purest, most knowledgeable, most accurate" voice
in hockey. Kelly was 52 years old when he died at his Chesterfield home
after a five-month struggle with cancer.
On Wednesday February 5,
Hank Aaron will turn 80 years old.
this week, the Cardinals announced that they had traded David Freese to
the Los Angeles Angels, as part of a two-for-two swap that resulted in
CF Peter Bourjos moving east to St. Louis.
always good radio to be found the day after the Philly Eagles lose.
That's because 97.5 The Fanatic employs long-time sports-talk radio pro
Tony Bruno, who, with wit and wisdom and alacrity, persuades most (but
not all) of his ever-insufferable listeners not to jump from the top of
the nearest tall building. The wonder of the internet brings Bruno and
his Philly-based station to anyone looking for an entertaining
WDBX Sunday Sports Review
It’s late March here in the Gateway City. That means three things are on the minds of local sports fans. First, late March means the Cardinals are making final preparations for breaking their Spring Training camp and heading north. Second, the NCAA basketball tournament is in full swing and bracket watching/cursing continues.
Third, it’s time to start paying attention to the National Hockey League and particularly our town’s entry: the St. Louis Blues.
We are entering the final month of the drudgery of the NHL regular season. The sole purpose of this six-month ordeal is to thin the herd from thirty teams to sixteen teams. Only in the National Hockey League do you play six months of slugfest hockey so that 53.33% go to the post-season.
This weekend the Blues punched their ticket. They will be one of those sixteen invitees in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It has been a very good season for our local ice heroes. At this writing, St. Louis leads the Central Division with 103 points: posting an overall record of 48-16-7. Local hockey fans now know there will be playoff tickets to save up for. Local media may start growing their silly playoff beards to help the cause.
But history tells us that although the Blues again will be playing in the NHL’s second season, the real question is: just how long will they be around? In their first three seasons of existence, thanks to the structure of the newly-expanded NHL, St. Louis reached the Stanley Cup Finals. Since then it has not been so good. During most of the following forty-two seasons since 1971 when they did make the playoffs, the Note was knocked out in either the first or second rounds.
Cautious optimism exists by puck heads in the Show Me State. But history does not lie. Do we know if the Blues will reach round three of the playoffs will reach the third round of the playoffs for third time in 43 seasons? Do we know if they will reach the Cup Finals for the first time since the Nixon administration? Heck, Red Schoendienst was the Cardinal Manager and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was TV’s most popular show the last time the Note played in the Finals.
So instead getting all emotionally raveled, unshaven and joining the local media on their cheerleading bandwagon, let’s see what we know and what we do not know about our Blue.
We know the Blues have a solid and successful Management team calling the shots. All have successful track records. Let’s start at the top. The team’s current Chairman Tom Stillman became the team’s NHL Governor on May 9, 2012. Stillman is also the Chairman and CEO of Summit Distributing: a St. Louis-based beer distributor. He entered the beer business in 1994 with the acquisition of a local wholesaler and has delivered steady growth and results. Stillman is also a bottom-line businessman. Unlike his predecessor he announces actual attendance totals for home games. While he is not afraid to spend money for players to improve the product, Stillman makes it crystal clear that in order for the Blues to be successful, all revenue streams, from season tickets to luxury boxes to concessions to broadcasting rights must justify the expenses.
Said another way, Tom Stillman is an upgrade from the smooth-talking Dave Checketts.
We also know that Ken Hitchcock is a successful NHL Head Coach. Now in his seventeenth NHL season, Hitchcock’s career Head Coaching record is 653-398-88. His teams finished in first place seven times and at this writing, his 2013-14 are in the top spot in the Central Division. Hitchcock’s name is engraved on the Stanley Cup as the Head Coach for the 1998-99 Champion Dallas Stars. Hitchcock has an Olympic Gold Medal as the Assistant Coach for Canada’s championship hockey team this year in Sochi. Hitchcock has represented Canada at international competitions. He led his team to the Silver Medal at the 2008 World Championships
Said another way, Ken Hitchcock is an upgrade from the overmatched Davis Payne
We also know that Doug Armstrong is a proven and successful NHL Executive. Armstrong joined the Blues as the Executive Vice President and General Manager on July 1, 2010. He was named President of Hockey Operations and General Manager/Alternate Governor on September 4, 2013. Armstrong was a part of the Stars’ organization after moving to Dallas in 1993. He helped lead the franchise to two Presidents’ Trophies, two Western Conference titles and the 1999 Stanley Cup championship. Armstrong spent 17 years with Dallas: his final six seasons as the club’s General Manager. The 49-year old Armstrong was also a member of the Management Group that oversaw Canada’s 2014 Olympic Gold Medal winning hockey team.
Said another way, Doug Armstrong is an upgrade from local media favorite John Davidson.
Therefore, ergo and hence, all three men have successful resumes. That is what we know.
That now brings us to the players. And that is what we don’t know.
It’s past time for these Blues players that we have been told possess all that potential to put up or shut up once and for all. Management has provided tools and support. They went out and acquired Jay Bowmeester and Ryan Miller. Management invested the money to lock down Bowmeester, Alex Petroangelo and Alexander Steen. Management has provided the time, talent and treasure. The Front Office has done its part.
It’s now time (past time?) for the players to step up and prove once and for all they are worthy. While I’m sure they are all good people, here’s the bottom line. To date, this core group of players has not done it in the playoffs. It’s time once and for all for David Backes to prove that he is as much as a Blues Captain as Brian Sutter or Barclay Plager were before him. It’s time once and for all for TJ Oshie, Steen, Patrick Berglund, Barret Jackman and the rest not to be as invisible in the playoffs as Keith Tkachuk was in prior first rounds. It’s time once and for all for Petroangelo to demonstrate in the playoffs that he is worthy of that big-money contract he held out for and if he can be mentioned in the same breath as Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger.
Once and for all, it’s time. Can they do it? Yes--Will they do it? That is what we do not know.
Frequent visitors to this space might recall these musings provided by this bureau in early March.
“Two areas concern me. Their first and/or second round opponent will likely be some combination of the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks and/or Anaheim Ducks. At this writing St. Louis is 0-2-1 versus Vancouver, 0-3-0 against Anaheim, 1-2-0 against Los Angeles and 0-3-0 against San Jose. Said another way in 2013-14 the Blues are 1-10-1 against their likely first and/or second round opponents. Said even another way, ten of the Blues fourteen losses were against these four Western Conference fraternity brothers.”
“We’ll see if the addition of Ryan Miller and Steve Ott will change the dynamics. Until then, in order for the Blues to avoid their normal fate of a first or second round exit, the road to the Conference Finals will go through the West Coast: at least once or twice.”
“Secondly & not to sound snarky, remember these are still the St. Louis Blues. Year in and year out when expectations are high, the Blues always found some way not to get the job done. Local fans & media have had their hearts broken more times than a teenage girl with a Facebook page.”
Those sentiments remain unchanged. Here is what we know and what we don’t know.
It’s late March and the St. Louis Blues are in the playoffs again. That we know.
But will the Note last more than one or two rounds this time? That we don’t know.
Either way we need to answer those questions once and for all.<>
year's Stanley Cup tournament, how, exactly, did the Blackhawks defeat
the Kings? And why did the Kings vanquish the Blues?