After the loss last night to Minnesota and extending their losing ways, I feel I must speak for the Blues fans out there who feel the same as I do. Something in the Blues locker room is not clicking and I want us to try and figure out what it is and how to change it. Is it coaching, lack of team cohesiveness or just a string of bad luck? Hopefully the two latter are true, but there is a sad reality in the NHL today; Coaches are expendable and players we come to appreciate have to be moved to cause a shake up. Let’s dive in.
How do we address the potential problem with the Blues to be coaching? If you have followed me in my short time here at Interstate 70 Sports, you know I stand behind what Craig Berube and his staff are doing with the squad and have professed my faith in him. Now, while I have stood behind Berube, there is a harsh reality in the NHL when it comes to coaching and that is that you’re only as good as your latest games show. Coaches are offloaded and shipped out for losing streaks, poor play, take your pick of the litter that doesn’t deal with the coaching itself and they can be fired for just about all of it. The losing streaks and inconsistent play are a reason for concern that “Chief” Berube may be on his way out if GM Doug Armstrong sees this an issue. Truth of the matter is that when your team is playing poorly, your coach is first to go, because you can’t just fire players (unless you’re Stephane Robidas in Toronto, then you can be put on an island) and the writing could be on the proverbial walls that Berube may be out the door sooner than you or I wanted. While this is all in hyperbole, we cannot ignore the fact that the Blues recent skids are inching Armstrong closer to having no other choice but to can the coach to make a statement.
Luckily for Berube, the Blues and Doug Armstrong may utilize trade pieces to try and shake the team up first and make waves. There are a few options the Blues could use in a trade to make this locker room different, but not drastically change the core of the roster:
Vince Dunn: It’s no secret that Dunn has underperformed this season. In 32 games Dunn has posted a meager 5 goals and 7 assists, all while garnering a plus/minus of -8. The bright side of Dunn is his age, potential and quite honestly his position on the ice. Defensemen are like diamonds in the rough on the market, and one like Dunn at age 24 and minimal cap hit would surely drum up some interest for any type of team. I would be on the lookout for a team maybe in the middle of the pack or steadily rebuilding or retooling to take a look at Dunn before the April 12th deadline.
Mike Hoffman: Unpopular, I know, but Hoffman just has not worked here so far. With the injuries to the team and him getting more of an important role, Hoffman just has not panned out the way Blues fans invisioned. 8 goals and 20 points may look okay given his low cap hit and in a shortened season, but if you know who this player can be it’s just not working the way Armstrong hoped. Truly with being a perennial 30+ goal scorer a team will take a chance on Hoffman at the deadline as a rental option for the playoffs coming up. Look for a hot team missing a scoring piece to reach out and make a deal for the 31 year old winger.
Tyler Bozak: This one would definitely hurt if the Blues made an eventual playoff push, but the reality is that teams can never have enough center depth. Bozak’s stats are never going to amaze you and jump off the page but he will get you through the playoffs not TO the playoffs. Another center that can kill penalties, win big D zone faceoff draws and eat pucks at the snap of a finger are invaluable to a team that is right on the cusp of getting over the hump of a long playoff run. Bozak would strictly be a rental for just about any fringe contender playoff team, so I would expect the phones would be ringing as long as he proves to be healthy in the coming weeks.
Let it all sink in, hopefully all of this is just a short phase and the Blues go on a healthy run and all is well and dandy. But being the raging overthinkers that we are as Blues fans, we must analyze every possible situation. Boys, don’t make this happen; Clean up the play and start winning games, then all of this was for naught and I can go to sleep knowing our team is still intact!
Photo Credit: NHL.com