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Armstrong Happy for Opportunity

Wednesday, 09.16.2009 / 10:33 AM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
By NHL .com  - Correspondents
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Armstrong Happy for Opportunity
In his first preseason appearance with the Blues, Derek Armstrong had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick (1 goal, 1 assist, 1 fight).
At age 36, forward Derek Armstrong is at the stage where he can start appreciating some of the more refined things in life.

Classical music is not among them. The symphony tune you hear when his cell phone rings is more nuisance than preference.

"I don't know how to change it. I'm too old to change it around," he said. "It was on the phone when I got it. I'm 36, man. The young guys on the team have to teach me to (get rid of it)."

If Armstrong plays with Peoria this season, those life lessons likely will flow both ways.

The veteran of 471 NHL games has signed a two-way deal with St. Louis, his first such contract since the start of this decade with the New York Rangers and Hartford. He's seen regular action with the Kings the last several years, producing 5 goals and 4 assists in 56 games for Los Angeles in 2008-09.

Armstrong was a dominant AHL player during his era. In 318 career AHL games, he posted 338 points, won the Calder Cup with Hartford in 1999-2000 and earned league MVP honors in 2000-01. But, save for two games with Manchester in 2002-03, he hasn't skated in the AHL since then.

Armstrong hopes a re-connection with Blues coach Andy Murray helps him pull a career U-turn and keeps him an AHL stranger a little longer. Murray coached Armstrong in Los Angeles.

"I'm young at heart," Armstrong said. "It is tough (in the marketplace). If I go to Peoria, I go to Peoria. I don't play for the money. I'm a hockey player. My ability is still there. I can play a first-line center. I can fight. The economy is tough right now. I'm fortunate to have the opportunity (to play) I've had for a long time."

Armstrong's chance this season will come with fewer peripheral perks than he's enjoyed in the past. The Wolf Pack team that won the Calder Cup was a rollicking group, one that captured national attention to the extent that it filmed a shaving commercial. In Los Angeles, Armstrong skated on the fringe of the entertainment scene by appearing on several outlets ranging from Carson Daly's TV show to "The Price is Right."

"That stuff was fun," Armstrong said. "I just like hockey. Whatever comes with that comes with that. I just did that stuff because I'm not shy around people."

You think? Even when Armstrong is not actually available, he still leaves them laughing. He's learned enough about his cell phone to record his own personal voice-mail message. It's him crooning the lyrics "I am Arm man, leave a message at the beep," to the heavy Black Sabbath classic, "Iron Man."

"I just like to sing," he said. 



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