An early send-home, courtesy of the Los Angeles Kings, left the St. Louis Blues unsatisfied with their performance for the second consecutive season.
The team was considered to be a Stanley Cup contender at the beginning of the season, but it was anything but a cruise. The Blues had many ups, and many downs, but in the end, they forged their way into the playoffs only to see their season come to an end earlier than they wanted.
It’s hard to see the positives of the season, especially this soon after the end result. While it wasn’t the ideal ending for the Blues, it also wasn’t a bad season.
The Note finished with the sixth highest point total in the National Hockey League. Considering the Blues had several stretches where winning seemed impossible, that point total speaks volumes about the team’s resolve.
For years, the Blues have been moving in the right direction. Before last season, the Blues had been in the playoffs just once in six seasons. Now they have reached the postseason two consecutive years. They’ve come a long way, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
“As frustrating and disappointing, I am still excited,” said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. “When I got here five years ago to where we are today, through the work of a lot of great people that are currently here and no longer here, we are moving in the right direction. We are making strides. Maybe it is difficult at this time for people to see those strides, but we were a much more competitive team this year against the L.A. Kings than we were a year ago, which is a positive.”
The success has been a long time coming for the Blues. They have been rebuilding their team, and their franchise as a whole, over the past decade and they are starting to see the work come to fruition. The window is currently open for the team, and they don’t feel as though they’ve missed their opportunity at the Stanley Cup. There’s a saying that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. That rings true for the Blues who will have to grow from their failures. They bounced back this past season and are hoping next season is a similar story with a different conclusion.
“This was one of the times that the window was open and we didn’t get through,” said Armstrong. “There’s disappointment in that and now there is a mandate to come back and get to this point again and change where we are today. “
“My belief in playoff success is: you knock on the door, you get to the door enough times and you will get through. Where we are now is we are at the door consistently for two years and we are going to get back there. If we put ourselves in this position year in and year out, at some point we will get through.”
The struggles that the Blues overcame this season are not small in size. At times, the Blues were on the brink of a losing season. They pulled themselves together and ended the season with a 29-17-2 record. They learned a lot about themselves, what they can do, what they have to do to be a good team.
“The fortitude of the players (is what most impressed me),” said Armstrong. When the season was on the brink, they responded. I thought they showed a lot of character. It’s not what people want to hear, but I do take satisfaction. We finished sixth in the NHL, a good league. That doesn’t happen by accident. There are some good things here. It might not feel like it for the fans, but that’s why a 10-day reflection period is necessary because we don’t want to make mistakes.”
If the Blues’ franchise didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any at all, or so it seems. The franchise is still searching for its first ever Stanley Cup championship, despite the likes of Brett Hull, Wayne Gretzky, Adam Oates, and many other former stars gracing the team with their presence. The Blues remain committed to their current players, and feel that moving forward, they have the pieces in place to make history. If the past two years have shown anything, it is that the Blues are for real. Taking their game to the next level is something the current players feel like they have to do; like they can do in the coming seasons. Looking back at past failures is pointless. The Blues must now look ahead and find ways to have success when it most matters.
“One of the things I said to the players was I have sympathy for the St. Louis fans, but the reality is the failures of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s—they don’t lie at the feet of T.J. Oshie, they don’t lie at the feet of David Backes, they don’t lie at the feet of Brian Elliott,” said Armstrong. “That’s somebody else’s issue. We’re a better team now than we were two years ago and that’s the way I look at it. To live in the past and try to exorcise ghosts is irrelevant.”