Keith Tkachuk, Dave Checketts

Checketts announces the Blues are for sale

If you have a couple hundred million dollars lying around and are interested in buying an NHL team, you’re in luck. It’s turning into a buyer’s market. We all know the Phoenix Coyotes have been trying to complete a sale for almost two years, the Atlanta Thrashers are actively seeking buyers, Tom Hicks is looking to sell the Dallas Stars, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is looking for someone to buy their 66% ownership in the Maple Leafs, and now, the St. Louis Blues are on the market as well.

Blues President Dave Checketts, who owns 20% of the franchise, has been working to find investors for 70% of the franchise that is owned by TowerBrook Capital Partners. They’ve wanted out for about a year, but unfortunately Checketts has been unable to find any potential owners to fill the void. Now, instead of finding investors for 70% of the team (and Scottrade Center lease), he’s turning his focus to selling off his 20% as well.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has Checketts’ thoughts:

“Until it ends, until we find a ‘Mr. Wonderful’ to come along, somebody that can take this over and push it along, I’m going to continue to push this franchise to be the best,” Checketts said. “I’m going to keep on everybody and keep pushing to make the team better and come back strong. I feel good about where we’re headed.”


“I’m very proud of what we accomplished here,” Checketts said. “The Scottrade Center is filled for every game. Blues fans love their team. We have some terrific young players in place. We have an outstanding management team to take the franchise into the future.

“I don’t like being a 12-place team. But better days are ahead.

“But I can no longer be a buyer. For I have to tell the world ‘Folks, it’s for sale.’ And they ought to come in and look at it, because it is a respectable and healthy NHL team and in a great city. What I want to do now, what I have to do, is to make sure to find someone with the same passion and commitment that I do.”

That means there are currently five NHL teams out there looking for “Mr. Wonderful.” But before fans in Saskatoon or Quebec City start saving for Blues season tickets, this situation is different than the Atlanta and Phoenix situations. The Blues have deeper roots in the community—both with sponsors and with their fan base. As Checketts said, the team has sold out every game this season and by all accounts is a healthy franchise with decades of tradition.

As it stands today, yet another team is for sale. And this time, it’s being sold by an owner who really doesn’t want to sell. At least that part of the story is different.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”