Two Words: Alexander Ovechkin
With all of the hullabaloo regarding the Blues hanging in to the bitter end for Kovalchuk, and some of the worrying from Blues fans that we don't have a sniper/superstar... well, it got me thinking. Do we NEED that guy? Do we need a franchise face, or should our franchise be a team, not someone on a Wheaties box lighting the Olympic Torch? As far as PR goes, having star power makes ad campaigns a lot easier and gift-shop revenue higher, but does one player make that difference on the ice?
The Caps' mad Russian scoring machine has put them on the map by proxy, since he's considered the league's "bad boy" superstar to Sidney Crosby's polished boy next door. Ads are everywhere with him and the team's logo on them. All of Russia seems to be Caps fans. People come to the arena to watch him, and people come to opposition arenas to do the same. All of this makes the organization bucks, and the excitement in the stands feeds down to the ice. Ovie's the complete package, and he's the superstar that makes those around him better, much like Crosby. The Capitals are simply better off now than they were before they drafted him (and yes, I realize they have Backstrom, Semin, Green, et al, but I'm writing this from a perspective of a casual hockey fan, i.e. a Caps fan from 2008.).
Look at the Blues-mania in St. Louis when we had Hull. You don't think that'd be captured again if we landed Ilya Kovalchuk? You bet it would.
Two More Words: Eric Staal
Ok, he's not the uberstar like Ovie is, but he's the star in Carolina, and he's very well known throughout the leagues fans - he's a sniper for sure. But even though he's a star, and he's a leader, his team is flailing aimlessly about in last place in the Southeast. The Leafs made that "blockbuster" trade for super talent Phil Kessel, and while he's been successful as an individual, the team hasn't benefited in the standings.
Frankly, the best example of a superstar not making a bit of difference is Kovalchuk. Eight years on the Thrashers and just one playoff trip to show for it - a trip where he was barely noticed. His random linemates over the years were not improved by playing with Kovy, because when he plays it's about himself. New Jersey's morphing their power play specifically to fit him, not the other way around - it's now Atlanta's PP unit, and everyone'll have it figured out. They're telling him to take longer shifts because that's what he's used to, shifts at the expense of established Devils players. They are tailoring their team around the superstar, and it's already causing issues 2 games in. The Thrashers, meanwhile, are having no problems outshooting their opponents without him, and are actually playing stronger team hockey. There's no one there to suck the limelight up except for everyone as a cohesive unit.
If a superstar were brought onto St. Louis, we would run the risk of the latter scenario happening. Do we want to run the risk of shaping the team to one person, and the ego that comes with that, or do we want to encourage a solid team effort every night?
On the flip side, it sure would be awesome if we could score more than 2 goals a game.