Blues GM Armstrong confident Pietrangelo will remain with team

Blues GM Armstrong confident Pietrangelo will remain with team

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Blues GM Armstrong confident Pietrangelo will remain with team

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by Scott Bierman / HockeyStL

KMOV.com

Posted on September 11, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 11 at 9:29 PM

(HockeyStL) -- One final effort to reach a contract agreement before training camp went for naught between the St. Louis Blues and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo on Tuesday night.

Unable to come to terms on a contract, Pietrangelo will be a no-show on the ice when the first training camp practice starts Thursday afternoon. For now, the talks between both parties are off with no timetable given for when they might rekindle.

“It’s not like high school dating,” general manager Doug Armstrong said about the communication between both parties. “Training camp starts today. Our focus has to be on the players that are here and the coaches that are here. Alex is a restricted free agent and we’ll continue to have dialogue when either side believes there’s something that they can accomplish.”

A player holdout is nothing new for Newport Sports Management Inc., the agency representing Pietrangelo. The Blues defenseman joins a list of other notable Newport Sports Management clients to holdout in recent years, including Montreal Canadiens’ PK Subban, Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty and Colorado Avalanche’s Ryan O’Reilly.

“As I said, Don Meehan and Newport Sports are a top agency,” Armstrong said. “They have been through this recently with a couple of players. I haven’t been through this in probably a decade, so I’ll play off their playbook a little bit. But ultimately we both want the same thing, we want the player in as a St. Louis Blue.”

And Armstrong reiterated his desire to make sure he remains with the Blues.

“We’ve been very consistent that when he puts a jersey on again it will be a Blues jersey,” Armstrong said. “We’ve given ourselves the opportunity to match any contract offer that’s out there. If a team gets desperate enough that they feel they have to do that, we’ll match it. If it costs us waiving a player currently on our roster, we’ll do that to keep him. He’s going to be a Blue.”

With Pietrangelo missing from camp, Armstrong said the team will go about its business as if he was injured, now whether it’s a “hangnail or a broken leg” injury is to be determined.

“We treat him like an injured player,” Armstrong said. “Sidney Crosby missed a lot of time with concussions, the Penguins went on. That’s our job responsibility. If he misses a week, a month, a year, we’re not really sure. But he’s not here now and we have to move forward.”

The Blues will look towards its other young star on the blue line, Kevin Shattenkirk, to make up the difference during Pietrangelo’s holdout.

“It’s a great opportunity for someone like Kevin Shattenkirk,” Armstrong said. “He’s a young player that statistically when you look at he and Petro in his first three years in the league, their stats are very similar. He’s going to get the chance to play with the big dog on the left side now and we’ll see how he does.”

The ‘big dog’ being Jay Bouwmeester who signed a five-year extension with the team this offseason.

To put numbers to the comparison, Pietrangelo compiled 118 points, including 28 goals, over his first three full seasons (207 games -- including the lockout-shortened one). Shattenkirk posted 109 points, including 23 goals, over his first 201 games played in the league.

The absence of Pietrangelo will linger for a team looking to give its city their first Stanley Cup since joining the league in 1967. As noted by Armstrong, the team is better with him than without. But as long as they are without, the team has only one direction until the talks resume.

“Because a player is not here -- any player, not just Alex -- no one person from the general manager to the owner to any player or coach is bigger than the institution or the franchise. This franchise will keep moving forward.”

Blues captain David Backes is also represented by Newport Sports Management Inc.

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