Kariya Sees Bright Future for Blues

Thursday, 11.1.2007 / 3:48 PM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
The Canadian Press
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Kariya Sees Bright Future for Blues

COLUMBUS, Ohio - When Paul Kariya signed with St. Louis Blues this summer, he wasn't concerned that the team had missed the playoffs in two straight seasons.

The veteran forward saw enough potential for a bright future to put his name on a three-year contract.

"I thought it was a really good fit hockey wise," said Kariya, who signed an US$18-million deal with the Blues on July 1 after spending the last two years with the Nashville Predators. "When (head coach) Andy Murray took over the team last year, in my opinion, they were a playoff team. And with the young group of players, you knew that they not only were going to be a good team now but two or three years down the road, they were going to be even better."

While St. Louis was one of the best teams in the NHL during the second half of last season, Kariya has played an integral role in their most recent success. The 13-year NHL veteran from Vancouver still possesses that blend of speed, playmaking ability and savvy that has made him one of the most dynamic and productive players of his generation.

Kariya's skills have had an immediate impact on the St. Louis offense. He's playing on the top line with center Keith Tkachuk and winger Brad Boyes.

"Our team's played really well to start off," Kariya said of the Blues. "That's important as a group top get off to a good start.

"And our line's played well. We've developed some chemistry very quickly. Sometimes it takes a little while and sometimes it happens soon."

Murray isn't surprised that Kariya has adapted so fast. The coach has known him for years and says that Kariya has always been a player that pays attention to the details of preparation.

"Paul, as any young player should when he first came into the league, did a lot of listening," Murray says. "He's still a very attentive listener. I know when I talk by the black board, I can feel his eyes going right through me. He's staring right at me and listening to everything I say.

"Because of his credibility and his experience, he has the opportunity to express himself, too. When he speaks, people listen."

Blues' players like Tkachuk and Doug Weight, both of whom have spent years facing off against Kariya in the Western Conference, are excited about what he has brought to a St. Louis team determined to return to prominence.

"He's got a lot of assets," says Weight. "His speed, his power-play ability, his professionalism. He's there every game and very well prepared. He's made us a better team and that's why we went out and got him."

Kariya is enjoying having the chance to play with Tkachuk and Weight instead of against them.

"I've played with both of them in all-star games before," he said. "They're both incredible hockey players but away from the rink, they're great people, too. It's a lot of fun to play with them and hang out with them on the road."

Murray says that Kariya was the franchise's main target in the off-season. The coach was hopeful he would end up signing but had some nervous moments late on that July 1 evening.

"We were sitting with bated breath all day," Murray says. "He was flying from Vancouver to L.A. and his flight was late, so we were calling and checking on the flights because we knew we were going to get the answer when he landed. There was a pretty good celebration in the war room in St. Louis when we got a hold of him at 10 at night.

"We were hopeful and pleased."

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 77 47 22 8 220 188 102
3 STL 75 46 22 7 228 186 99
4 CHI 75 45 24 6 213 175 96
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 75 43 27 5 215 203 91
7 WPG 76 39 25 12 215 201 90
8 CGY 76 41 28 7 224 201 89
9 LAK 75 37 24 14 200 188 88
10 DAL 76 37 29 10 236 243 84
11 SJS 76 37 30 9 212 215 83
12 COL 75 35 28 12 205 209 82
13 EDM 75 22 40 13 181 254 57
14 ARI 76 23 45 8 160 252 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 75 36 35 26 71
A. Steen 73 24 38 6 62
J. Schwartz 68 24 32 14 56
D. Backes 74 25 29 6 54
T. Oshie 66 19 32 13 51
P. Stastny 67 14 29 5 43
A. Pietrangelo 75 6 36 -4 42
J. Lehtera 68 11 29 18 40
K. Shattenkirk 50 8 32 17 40
P. Berglund 70 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 24 13 3 .920 2.18
J. Allen 19 6 4 .906 2.45

 
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