Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
In a recent interview with the Post-Dispatch, Blues GM Doug Armstrong said the club would continue with its annual rite of passage and let its two netminders — Jake Allen and Brian Elliott — battle for the starting job.
“We believe that we have two good goaltenders and training camp is going to decide who plays opening night,” Armstrong explained. “That’s how I see it from my perspective.”
St. Louis, and Elliott in particular, has been in this situation before — first with Jaroslav Halak, then with Allen. It’s often put the club in an unenviable position come playoff time, as head coach Ken Hitchcock has been forced to choose a starter after utilizing a timeshare throughout the regular season. It’s often been reminiscent of the old football adage:
If you have two starting quarterbacks, you really don’t have one.
Which brings us back to the present. In speaking with the Post-Dispatch, Armstrong suggested that Jake Allen — who started the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Minnesota — was no longer in a position to learn at the NHL level.
But then he added the club wasn’t ready to officially demote Elliott to No. 2 status.
On Allen: “He can’t apprentice anymore. He put in a good year last year. Now is his time. He’s done the work necessary to compete for that job.”
On Elliott: “I didn’t say he’s coming in as the backup. He could have a great summer and steal the job.”
So, how does this play out? Nobody would blame Elliott for being unimpressed with how things have transpired; he’s been the one constant in goal over the last four years and had the playoff starting gig taken away last year — despite Hitchcock anointing him the No. 1 in late May.
It’s worth noting that, at the end of last season, Elliott said he hadn’t requested a trade.