(HockeyStL) -- I’m sure it wasn’t easy. Any time one of your star players is eligible for even restricted free agency it can cause problems. Those in sports call it the “business” side of the sport. It’s not about hockey. It’s not about winning and losing. It’s not about having fun to be honest.
It’s plain business.
Which is why a major attaboy needs to go out to Blues GM Doug Armstrong for finalizing a seven year contract with star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo on Day 2 of training camp. This could have been a huge distraction in practice. Forget what anyone says to the contrary. When a 23-year old leads your defense with 24 points and is 13th in the NHL in ice time for his position it’s kind of noticeable when he’s missing.
No offense to Barret Jackman, Jay Bouwmeester, Jordan Leopold and the other on the blue line...but not having Pietrangelo in uniform could have been disastrous.
“It’s a day that I knew was going to come at some point,” Armstrong said. “I was hoping it would be a few days ago but we had a conversation yesterday, scheduled a call today and we were able to wrap up all the loose ends that were there. What I said to him is ‘this isn’t a seven year deal, this is a stepping stone to the rest of your career’.
“I think he’s excited to be here. I know we’re excited to have him. We’ll get him here into St. Louis tomorrow, turn him over to the coach and all those nice things I said about him (head coach Ken Hitchcock) can dispel tomorrow and start yelling at him.”
What Pietrangelo brings to this team that they so badly need is just someone, anyone, who can help create offense. The Blues are starved for goals and cannot expect to keep winning games 1-0 and go all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The easiest way to fix that problem is to get some more scoring forwards, sure. But Pietrangelo’s offensive mentality as a defenseman will go a long way to helping out whatever forwards are on the ice at the same time as him.
He’s easily one of the best in the league - as you can tell by the amount of ice time that he gets - and should only get better given his age.