St. Louis a 'Good Fit' for Steen
Blues forward says he's comfortable in his role with the Blues
Sunday, 02.07.2010 / 6:17 PM / St Louis Blues - Features
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues
In the middle of winter with temperatures 40 below zero in Winnipeg, the lake was frozen solid and the added light provided an opportunity for Alex to continue playing hockey well after the sun went down.
With that, a dream of playing in the NHL was born.
While his dad starred for the Winnipeg Jets in the 80s and 90s, Alex remembers spending a lot of time with Jets equipment manager Craig Heisinger, who mentored him while his dad spent time on the ice. Alex met many NHL All-Stars when they were just beginning their careers, including Dale Hawerchuk, Teemu Selanne, Tie Domi and even Keith Tkachuk.
“It was pretty cool. The guys were really cool about me hanging out around the room,” Alex said recently, recalling the days when he was a shy kid surrounded by men who had achieved a dream he could only hope to one day achieve. “Everybody was good to me. They were a bunch of great guys.”
While growing up and practicing on the backyard lake, Alex said he learned a lot about the game from his dad, who spent his entire 14-year NHL career with the Jets and scored 817 points (264 goals, 553 assists) in 950 games played. Before the team relocated to Phoenix, Thomas and Bobby Hull were the only two players to have their numbers retired by the franchise.
“When I was younger, (I learned) more technical things like skating and things like that from my old man,” Alex said. “The older you get, the more you kind of learn about experience. I get into certain situations that my dad had been through in the 14 years that he played, so it’s easy to talk to him about it.”
As Alex grew, his dream of being an NHL player became more and more of a reality. With his dad retired from the game and the family having moved to Sweden, Alex gained experience with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League on the junior level. He was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round (24th overall) in 2002 and debuted with the team three years later.
In November 2008, he learned that he was dealt to St. Louis with defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo for forward Lee Stempniak.
“It was great for me. A new opportunity, new scenery. The Blues organization has been great,” Alex said. "It’s been first class really since both Carlo and I got here. Everybody’s been supportive, the city’s been great. My family loves it here and everything has been top notch.”
Steen has elevated his play this season for the Blues. He’s already surpassed his point production last season in 18 less games. In his last 25 contests, he’s tallied 12 goals and 9 assists.
“Nothing’s really different,” he said about his game. “After the (wrist) injury (early in the season), I came back and things just weren’t working. I worked at it and I feel like now, I have good legs, I’m skating a lot more and creating more chances.
“Obviously, shooting the puck helps.”
With the team trying to make a late-season push to the playoffs for the second year in a row, Steen’s heroics will have to continue. And without a contract for next season, Steen is hoping he’s proven enough to remain with the Blues.
“We love it here, my family really enjoys St. Louis,” he said. "The organization has been great to me and my family. We’ll see what happens, but obviously St. Louis is a good fit for me.
“I like playing here. It’s a great group of guys. Hopefully I’ll be able to stay.”