Good Decision to Keep Brewer as Captain
Sunday, 09.12.2010 / 1:11 PM
As I sit outside a Villa in Southern Tuscany, (trust me, this doesn't happen often, usually I have golf clubs with me), I'm overlooking grapes for miles and I can't help but get excited about the upcoming season in St Louis.
It will be my second season as a Blues analyst. Alongside John Kelly and Bernie Federko, I am feeling so much more comfortable in my fairly new surroundings.
I have made the move from Washington Avenue to Lafayette Square, while our two kids are attending Mizzou and we can't wait to have them close by. They love to watch hockey. My son, Tyler, tried out for the club hockey team and made it on the 25-man roster. He went to College as a freshman in Jersey City, NJ (St. Peters College) on a golf scholarship, but never lost his passion for hockey.
It will be exciting to see this group of players rally around last year's disappointment of not making the playoffs. They struggled on home ice for far too long. Too many points disappeared early and late in games at Scottrade Center.
The team invested in new boards and glass.
Trust me. This is huge for the players. An enormous investment for sure.
People say, 'spend the money on players....blah, blah,blah.'
I get that, but here's the deal: You have to give the players the proper stage to perform. The boards were like stale bread at a great Italian restaurant. You get all excited, anticipating a beautiful Chianti Reserva, a little olive oil and bread to nibble on before dinner.
Stale bread. Yuck.
Bad boards in hockey. Yuck.
You know what I mean right? It's great work by the ownership and management group to get this done.
Also, how about the management stepping up and making sure everyone is well aware that Eric Brewer will remain the club's captain?
Brewer is a great asset. He's healthy for first time in a long time. He played more games last year than anyone thought he would. Played sore, hurt and sometimes not real well, according to Brewer himself. He is a very fair analyst when it comes to his own play. He is funny, dry, sarcastic. The fans and media -most of them - don't ever see this.
With management proclaiming him captain, it puts pressure on him to perform and that's a good thing. The Blues need Brewer to be an anchor on the blueline. He doesn't need to be Bobby Orr or Nick Lidstrom, just a rock solid player that plays hard in every situation.
I like the way John Davidson and Doug Armstrong handled this situation. They didn't let something get away from them. They addressed it and settled it.
No more discussion.
As for the leaders that support Brewer?
How about the decision to put an "A" on Backes, Steen, Jackman, and young Erik Johnson, who will get loads of minutes this season? There are so many great candidates that lead by example very day, it is always tough to decide, but I like these choices, all very solid.
Here's what I have learned over the years when it comes to streaky goal scorers (and I had a few guys on my teams that would go dry for weeks and then light it up for 2 months): Confidence. Reassurance. Tell them to have fun with the puck and let 'er rip. You also reinforce the other details like backcheck hard, block a shot and take a hit to make a play.
For Brad Boyes, last season will prove to be his worst as a pro. It will never be like this again, I will guarantee you that. His hands, vision and care for the game are too strong for the disappointment he endured last season.
He lives in Toronto, a mecca of hockey passion, in the offseason. You think he wants to answer the same questions from family and friends next summer about the season? Not a chance.
Nothing like a little pressure to test your character.
I couldn't be more excited to get to know such a tremendous person and goalie, as I have heard so many good things in regards to Jaroslav Halak.
Last season was such a pleasure, as I have known and watched both Ty Conklin and Chris Mason, two pros that get their work boots on every day and grind it out, battle whatever needs to be battled. Love 'em.
Halak and Conklin, though, will be one of the NHL's top tandems. No question.
In speaking with Halak's former goalie coach in Montreal, Roland Melanson, he could only rave about Halak. As a person, character, work ethic; you name it he said great things about him.
He told me that Halak can battle adversity with the best of them. He will always prove you wrong when you doubt him most. He will be the last player off the ice every day. When he gives up a bad goal, he will bounce back with a big save or a great next game. All wonderful qualities.
This should be a lot of fun!
I will continue to blog for the Blues, Fox Sports Midwest and for Hockeychats.com during the season. You can also follow me on twitter @Panger40.
Here's to a great hockey season. Ciao!