Hitchcock expects Stastny to endure ’emotional tug of war’ in return to Colorado

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After eight sometimes-tumultuous seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, Paul Stastny will enter the Pepsi Center wearing a St. Louis Blues uniform tonight.

Head coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that some positives might come from Stastny facing the Avalanche for the first time after being a member of the team for eight seasons.

“You just have to play,” Hitchcock said. “You know there’s going to be an emotional tug of war going on. You’re visiting with friends, you’ve got people that know you on the other side. He hasn’t played a hockey game against Colorado, we’re two months into the season. Just stay with it. I think the biggest thing is his two linemates have to pick him up a little here. There’s going to be some real emotion on his side, positive and negative. He’s going to play as well as he can play, we know that, but the other two guys have a responsibility to help him out a little bit here.”

The 28-year-old said that Colorado will “always be a piece of home for me,” as NHL.com’s Rick Sadowski notes.

Judging from his early stats, Stastny is still not quite at home in St. Louis.

He only has 12 points in 21 games while averaging less than 16 minutes per game for the first time in his NHL career (he never logged less than 18:10 per contest with the Avs). Stastny’s possession stats aren’t as strong as usual, either.

Could such an emotional evening help the expensive free agent forward start to turn things around with his new team? The already powerful Blues would certainly appreciate that.