With just 11 goals and 22 points in 53 games, this hasn’t been a season to remember for Chris Stewart.
His head coach, however, is making sure he’ll never forget it.
After a disappointing effort in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Columbus, Stewart was bounced to St. Louis’ fourth line during Wednesday’s practice — a move both he and coach Ken Hitchcock saw as a major message.
“It’s obviously a message — message loud and clear,” Stewart told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’ve been in this position before, just got to get back to work. I’m obviously not contributing offensively and something had to be done. They feel like that’s the right approach and I’ll just go from there.”
Stewart skated at practice with center Scott Nichol and left winger Chris Porter. It’s a significant fall from grace for a guy that posted back-to-back 28-goal seasons and was once regarded as one of the game’s best young power forwards.
Hitchcock knows about Stewart’s scoring prowess, but said the demotion was more about his overall game, not his recent inability to put the puck in the net.
“Before you can think about scoring goals, you’ve got to start to work,” Hitch explained. “Does this get his attention and do all that stuff? We’ll see, but we need him to have way more impact on the game. He’s too good a player to just go quietly by the night.”
It’ll be very interesting to see how this situation plays out. The Blues are playing extremely well and still in the chase for top spot in the Western Conference but Stewart, who is in the final year of a two-year, $5.75 million deal, has been a major disappointment.
That said, the 24-year-old claims he’s working hard and giving it 100 percent.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m obviously out there trying, giving it my all every night,” he said. “But at the end of the day, if they don’t feel that’s good enough, then I’ve got to show more. It’s up to them to give me the job description and up to me to do it.”