Let’s put it this way — the St. Louis Blues have no plans to become a “tomorrow team.”
GM Doug Armstrong met with reporters today, alongside head coach (for now) Ken Hitchcock, to answer for yet another disappointing playoff performance.
While Armstrong is fully aware of his team’s situation — “We entered a window four years ago, and the window doesn’t stay open forever” — he’s also wary of overreacting.
“What I don’t want to do is hurt the franchise long-term,” he said. “I don’t want to do something that is going to be a good headline tomorrow, and that we’re going to regret for five or six years.”
As such, his recommendation to ownership will be this: “Let’s live to fight another day. Let’s go back to work. Let’s prop this group up. Let’s find out what’s holding us back, and let’s attack it.”
To be clear, that doesn’t mean no changes. Obviously, there will be changes.
“I’d rather work with these guys than against these guys,” he said. “But ultimately I’m going to do what I have to do to give our organization the best chance for success. Hard decisions are made. That’s the business that we’ve chosen. We’re all compensated very well, and there’s a responsibility that goes with that compensation. … I don’t want to tear it apart, but I’m not afraid to make changes if I think it’ll help the team.”
The reported plan, nascent as it may be, to build an arena in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila has put Seattle mayor Ed Murray under increasing pressure to get his stalled arena project in the city’s Sodo neighborhood back on track.
“I’m committed to doing everything I can to get an NBA and NHL team here in Seattle,” Murray said, per King 5. “And Seattle is absolutely the only place for an NHL and NBA team here in our region.
“As I’ve said before, I stand by the [memorandum of understanding] that the city signed which requires the NBA to commit to Seattle before an arena can be built. But given what we’ve heard from the NBA, I’m open to the idea of NHL coming to Seattle first. I am ready to listen and would be willing to reconsider the MOU if there is an NHL-first proposal that pencils out for the City.”
Putting even more pressure on Murray to do whatever needs to be done to start construction is Tukwila’s reputation for, well, doing the things that need to be done, and doing them quickly.
“Unlike some councils in the area, Tukwila has a very harmonious group,” a source told the Seattle Times. “There aren’t too many disagreements on anything amongst the councilors, and it leads to things getting done very quickly.”
Related: Doubts raised about alternative Seattle arena locations
Two days after the St. Louis Blues bowed out of the playoffs, yet again in the first round, head coach Ken Hitchcock wasn’t sure if he’d be back behind the bench next season.
“I need time to reflect,” Hitchcock said, per KMOV’s Andrew Allsman. “I feel like I’ve let people down.”
Hitchcock does not have a contract for next season. And despite what GM Doug Armstrong said in October — that it’s “up to the players to get the job done,” i.e. the coach isn’t the problem — it’s possible we could see a situation, like we saw in San Jose, where there’s a mutual parting of ways.
To be sure, if Hitchcock were to move on from St. Louis and wanted to keep coaching, he’d be an interesting candidate in a place like Edmonton.
“He’s hard on us, but he does it because he knows the right way and how to get to this position,” said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, per NHL.com. “You can never take that away from the way he coaches. He coaches fundamentals. It’s something we needed and we were able to get here because of him.”
Let’s face it — if there’s one team in the NHL that could use a fundamentals-based coach, it’s the Oilers.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
“We’re not naive to the fact that we let our fans down with our postseason play,” said Armstrong. “We need to find a way to address and overcome.”
Easier said than done.
Related: Blues owner ‘disappointed and frustrated,’ but not ready to ‘throw people under the bus’