(HockeyStL) - The Blues will hit the ice for the start of training camp on Friday. Winger Jaden Schwarz won’t be with the team. He’s in a contract dispute and remains unsigned.
Schwarz is a valuable piece to the puzzle, but regardless of when he signs and arrives in camp Blues management is expecting big things in the club’s 48th season in the NHL.
General manager Doug Armstrong scored one of the coups of the off-season with the signing of free agent forward Paul Stastny, the native St. Louisan who scored 25 goals last season for the Colorado Avalanche. Armstrong also added veterans like Carl Gunnarsson, Chris Butler and Jori Lehtera.
“I think the depth is maybe as strong as we’ve had since we’ve been here,” said Armstrong. “The competition is going to be outstanding in training camp.”
The Blues were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by Chicago last season. It was an all too familiar early playoff exit. The Blues have been one of the elite teams in the league during the regular season in recent years, but head coach Ken Hitchcock says that’s not good enough anymore.
“Whether we lost in the first round,” said Hitchcock. “I know it’s relevant for the ownership but for me it’s not relevant. We lost to two Stanley Cup champions (Los Angeles, Chicago). We played really well, and we played some of our best hockey we’ve ever played. But we still lost.”
Hitchcock will give Jake Allen a shot at becoming the number one goaltender, after the failed Ryan Miller experiment. Hitchcock says it’s about time this team found all the answers, and rewarded its fan base with a Stanley Cup championship.