The St. Louis Blues more or less completed their transition from a mixed bag of veterans and newbies to one of the youngest teams in the NHL thanks to the retirement of Keith Tkachuk and the near-retirement of Paul Kariya this off-season. Some might wonder if this will harm the team’s chemistry, but the Blues seem to think that the removal of that “class ceiling” will be a major weight off the team’s backs. (Tkachuk weight joke … kind of intended.)
Budding power forward David Backes thinks of it as a passing of the torch, as he told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“It’s kind of a ‘passing of the guard,’ the way USA Hockey did it in the Olympics,” Backes said. “It’s happening here now. They were guys that you knew could get it done. But they’re not here anymore, so someone else has got to be the guy that’s going to get that clutch goal, or produce on a regular basis. It’s an awesome opportunity. Really, there’s no ceiling, no limit.”
Rutherford points out that the minutes that went to Tkachuk and Kariya (well, whenever he actually played) will go to the team’s younger forwards.
Tkachuk and Kariya averaged 30 minutes, 39 seconds of ice time per game last season, and now that ice will be divided among David Perron, T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund, among others.
“When players get more ice time, you’re into the game more,” former Blues defenseman Al MacInnis said. “You’re not thinking, you’re reacting. Most guys at this level, they bring their game to another level because of that. You’re not even thinking about making a mistake; you’re just going out there and playing the game.”
I’ve gone on record of saying that the Blues would be a great fit for veteran forward Bill Guerin and I don’t think all the “glass ceiling” talk would excuse the team from relying too much on an aging player. Still, if the team truly wants a resounding emphasis on those wet-behind-the-ears scorers, then they’ll get just that.
We’ll see if they break through that glass ceiling or end up wounded in the process.
Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”
“For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”
Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.
Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.
In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.
So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?
Your call, Marc Bergevin.
Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL
Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.
The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),
But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.
In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.
Two injury updates in one post.
First, the situation with Montreal goalie Carey Price, who was hurt last night versus the Rangers.
According to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Price has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. That means he’ll be out at least a week, though no exact timeline was provided.
“We don’t know how long Carey will be out, but for us it’s business as usual,” said Therrien.
Mike Condon will get the start tomorrow in New Jersey.
As for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, he’ll be out 2-4 weeks after spraining his ankle last night in Carolina while getting tangled up with a linesman.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:
1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.
“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”
Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.
The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.