Misery in Missouri
Dead last in the standings. Dead last in attendance. The worst power play in the league. A road record of 3-8-1, third-worst in the league, and an 8.3% power-play success rate away from home.
Unbelievably, the St. Louis Blues are on pace for fewer points (54) than they managed in finishing 30th overall last season (57) — and that's been the team's pace with their two top goaltenders between the pipes. Now, both Curtis Sanford (2.93 GAA, .897 sv. pct.) and Manny Legace (3.48 GAA, .883 sv. pct.) are down with injuries, both of which look to be serious.
Sanford is out up to two months with a serious groin injury, while Legace was knocked unconscious by a shot in practice and could miss considerable time.
Both injuries happened within five days of each other.
In comes 24-year-old Jason Bacashihua, he of 18 career NHL starts, and 20-year-old rookie Marek Schwarz to, er, save the day.
I think we can stick a fork in the Blues.
It's hard to imagine things can get much worse for St. Louis, who have to seriously think about shuttling out their "big" names and get right down to the league's minimum salary. New president John Davidson struck out with most of his off-season acquisitions — although to be fair, Bill Guerin is on pace for 35 goals and Jay McKee has missed almost the entire season due to injury.
My guess is coach Mike Kitchen will be fired before anything else, but GM Larry Pleau's probably on his way overboard as well. With the third-lowest salary base in the league this season, the Blues haven't really given Pleau much to work with, but other low-spending teams like Washington, Nashville and Carolina have found success so far. You have to think, however, that the decision to bring in aging veterans like Guerin and Doug Weight was Davidson's alone, and it's really a shame if Pleau takes the fall when he's been playing puppet the past two years.
The Blues can lose approximately $6.5-million in salary before they hit the league's floor, a figure that in effect is getting more and more substantial as times goes along. Here's a look at the biggest tickets Davidson/Pleau have to potentially ship out between now and mid-March and those players' contract status this summer:
- Keith Tkachuk, $5.7-million (UFA)
- Jay McKee, $4-million (UFA in 2010)
- Doug Weight, $3.5-million (UFA in 2008)
- Martin Rucinsky, $2.375-million (UFA in 2008)
- Christian Backman, $2.3-million (UFA in 2009)
- Eric Brewer, $2.014-million (UFA)
- Bill Guerin, $2-million (UFA)
- Petr Cajanek, $1.85-million (UFA in 2008)
- Manny Legace, $1.4-million (UFA)
- Bryce Salvador, $1.4-million (UFA in 2008)
It's time to burn down the mess Davidson made in his first off-season, rebuild in earnest, and hopefully give Erik Johnson some young teammates to play with by the time he's ready for the big show.