If I'm good enough to be captain of the USA, how am I only an assistant of St. Louis?
So, Game Time readers, I know you like to love and be extra positive on the Blues (don’t we all, except for Brad Lee?). With that in mind, here’s the good news: In case you haven't heard, management went out and ponied up for Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner in the offseason.
The bad news? It’s not 2005.
By now, these two veterans’ motors have slowed a little, and they’re probably drinking lots of green tea with ginseng to keep their metabolisms going. They didn’t exactly skeet all over the league last year: Langenbrunner languished on an awful Devils squad for part of the year, putting up 14 points in 31 games, before he went back to Dallas and scored 18 points in 39 games. Arnott also began the year on those fuck-awful Devils, but he was shipped to Washington to join the playoff race (and typical of the Caps, end it prematurely). Arnott finished the season with 31 points in 73 games.
Those numbers—32 and 31 points, respectively—aren’t much to look at for a season. So what do the Blues, who have been so hyped for their chock-full stable of up-and-coming youngsters, get out of these two old dogs?
First and foremost, I’d caution you hyperventilating Blues fans to not expect Jason and Jamie (together, Jameson?) to return to top form—both of them are 36. Gentlemen, ask your wives if your game has gone downhill since you were 29. You may be surprised to hear you’re just not that great at stickhandling anymore. (Pardon me while I duck out of the way of the geriatric tomatoes you’re chucking at me.)
But they’re obviously not worthless, even outside their presence in the locker room (which is supposedly good, right?), and if you look even deeper at the numbers, it might even appear that these guys both still have enough gas left in the tank to be significant contributors to this hockey team, especially if it's getting ready to make the leap. (It is, right? Right?!)
While I made the joke earlier that it’s not six years ago, it’s definitely worth noting that both Arnott and Langenbrunner have been relevant more recently than that: In 2008, Arnott scored 33 goals, and Langenbrunner actually chipped in 29 goals then, too. Both of them were with playoff-caliber teams at the time, which helps.
So they've both performed at a pretty high level even recently. They both had down years last year, but there's a common denominator to that equation--the super shitty Devils. I can't say the Devils were the cause of J&J's decline, but I can confidently say it at least played a part. Those Devils were like watching a toilet bowl that you flush, and instead of all your business going down like usual, the water starts rising, and then you start panicking because soon, there's gonna be poo on the floor. Once the Devils canned their coach and brought back Jacques Lemaire, they instantly became awesome again, which means the problems were either in John MacLean's system, or in the players' heads because they couldn't jive with his coaching style.
Once he joined the Caps for their playoff run, Arnott put up 7 points in 11 games. And as I mentioned earlier, Langs actually had a decent run in Dallas. Which means...
It all comes down to the Blues. If the 'Note decide to put on their big-boy pants (looking at you, Osh) and decide to contend this season, you're going to see much better production out of Arnott and Langenbrunner. If we decide to be a) fucked by injuries, b) completely immature and incompetent or c) grind too much, which is always my fear, then I see one or both of them fading to black while wearing blue. These guys are veterans, and they want to win. If they're not winning, they're not happy. And if they're not happy, they're not scoring. And if they're not scoring, we might not be winning.
So I'm not going to make some kind of bold predictions for these guys' stats for the season. Instead, I'm just going to say: Dear Blues (Arnott, Langs and everybody else), score some fucking goals and the byproduct will be that you win some fucking games.