(HockeySTL) -- Ken Hitchcock says he’ll have the Blues ready to go for the start of the season, which will start less than two weeks from now.
The NHL has issued a memo to the teams instructing them to be ready to begin the season by January 19. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says it’s looking like 48 games will be the maximum the league will be able to shoehorn into an abbreviated season.
Hitchcock told me this morning on the radio that if the Blues goes six or seven days of ice time to get ready, that’s plenty. He said the key is to see who’s in what kind of shape when they start the workouts. Hitchcock has talked with coaches from the L.A. Lakers and San Antonio Spurs of the NBA to find out how they got their players in shape after a lockout forced an abbreviated training camp in that league. Hitchcock said, “some of the things they told us we never thought of. They were really helpful, and we’re going to use that information”.
Hitchcock believes the Blues are in a good situation having two front line goaltenders in Yaro Halak and Bill Elliott. With the schedule condensed the Blues will be playing a lot of games in a short time, and Halak and Elliott figure to share the heavy workload. Hitchcock says he’s also encouraged by what he’s seen of Jake Allen at Peoria. Allen has emerged as a legitimate number one goaltender, and a nice insurance policy should something happen to Halak or Elliot.
The Blues had more players than any other team competing in Europe during the lockout. Those players should all be in good shape and ready to go. At least 10 players skated and worked out this morning at the Mills in Hazelwood. Hitchcock will have his team primed and ready when the puck drops for real. After their breakout season of a year ago, maybe the Blues are finally on their way to winning their first Stanley Cup.