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You have to wonder if the fans in St. Louis are excited for hockey to be back. I mean, a paltry 5500 showed up for the first day of camp, and then only 1000 showed up on Monday morning, which was a workday. The first scrimmage on Tuesday drew a mere smidge of 8000 people. Surely tonight will finally give hockey pundits some sort of clue that the Blues and their fans are enthusiastic to continue their ascent back to being a reliably good team!
Tonight's crowd is announced at 10,200 fans. Thanks to everyone for coming out and we can't wait to see you Saturday. #longlivethenote— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) January 18, 2013
Darnit. Here I was hoping for some sign -- any sign -- of Blues fans wanting to fill the Scottrade Center on Saturday night when the Red Wings come to town for the start of the season. Obviously not. I mean, tonight the crowd only half-filled the barn! What's going to happen when people have to pay?
Every so often you'll hear about a tussle at a practice, but it's a rare one when it's with the captain of your team, and you're the guy whose door people never open.
One free scrimmage not enough? Well, then, have another. The Blues' second (and final) preseason training camp scrimmage will be tonight from 7-9 PM at the Scottrade Center. Admission, just like the rest of the pre-season will be free. The scrimmage will consist of a 20 minute first period, a 15 minute second period and a 10 minute third period which will feature all special teams play as well as a shootout at the end. Each period will be separated by a 15 minute intermission. Rosters for the scrimmage are below, and if anyone winds up with photos, please e-mail them in, and I'll add them to the other scrimmage gallery..
Team White Team Blue
F - #36 Matt D’Agostini F - #25 Chris Stewart
G - #1 Brian Elliott
Can't make it to every home game? Need to catch an out of town match at a bar? Here you go -- FSMW is broadcasting 41 games this year.
Some kind folks have sent in their images from Tuesday's first scrimmage that drew 8000 people. If you have any submissions you'd like to see on Game Time, send 'em in.
Everyone wants to watch puck handling drills! Maybe I'm speaking for myself, but there's something very zen about watching them, but I'm the kind of person who enjoys sitting at the ballpark watching batting practice, so it's probably just a quirk.
Here's Brian Elliott (I think -- my eyes suck) working on his puck handling today at practice. Thank you again to DanGNR for the video! It's almost like I'm there, except I'm really sitting at work in uncomfortable shoes in an uncomfortable chair typing on my laptop. Same difference.
Well, we saw between 5500 and 6000 people at the first practice on Sunday. A thousand people showed up on a workday to watch the Blues practice yesterday. So, how many do you think showed up for the scrimmage tonight at Scottrade? If you guessed somewhere in the realm of 8000, you'd win a cookie.
Over 8,000 fans in the building for tonight's scrimmage at scottrade center— Dan O'Neill (@doneill8) January 16, 2013
So, yeah, just a small game of shinny, right? If anyone has any photos or video from tonight, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll put together another gallery. The response has been tremendous for the camp photos -- we have over 80 thanks to you guys! It's much appreciated (especially since I have to live vicariously through all of you guys).
Not exactly a royal rumble here; it looks like the guys've picked up some moves from Alex Semin highlight videos. From reader DanGNR comes the FIGHT OF THE CENTURY!!! (possible hyperbole alert) between Chris Stewart and Ryan Reaves.
The Blues have always had a thing for journeyman players, and this year Doug Armstrong's filling that fetish with Colin White. White, who has played for both the New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks, is a two time Stanley Cup champion who could bring some weight in that department to the locker room.
White, who has 869 penalty minutes in 797 games, will be wearing Cam Janssen's old #55. The reason behind the invite's unclear; with Taylor Chorney and Jeff Woywitka as the presumable call-up and 7th defeneseman respectively, White would be hard pressed to crack the lineup. Still, his veteran presence on the ice would be helpful in getting the Blues going at camp and keeping the energy level and seriousness up. As Hitchcock said to Dan O'Neill:
"The first half energy was good today and second half … we let our foot off the gas a little bit, so we'll get back after it," he said. "I think the guys are really looking forward to scrimmaging tomorrow night."
Hitchcock made it known to the right people that the pace needs to pick up.
"It was quietly addressed today, so we'll pick it up," Hitchcock said. "There were too many smiles, we got to get rid of some of the smiles. Talk to the right people and faces change."
White should be able to help with that.
After a very successful first two days of camp, the Blues are bringing it up a notch with a scrimmage game to be played from 7-9 PM at the Scottrade Center Tuesday night.
Thank you to everyone who has sent in their photos so far. If you would like to contribute, please e-mail your pictures and attribution info to email@example.com. Thank you!
Well done, Blues fans! Very, very well done -- great job welcoming the team back to the ice.
Announced crowd of 5,500 on hand for today's #stlblues practice. Pretty impressive turnout.— B.J. Rains (@BJRains) January 13, 2013
First off, that's a lot of people to watch something that's not even a game. Second off, as Randall Ritchie of the BlueNoteZone Blog pointed out, that's five hundred people more than the Winnipeg Jets had at their practice and three thousand more than the Ottawa Senators had (also, nearly 4K more than the Hurricanes). Heck, the gates to get in looked like a regular season game.
I know it's free and blah blah blah whatever, but it still bodes well for the team once the season gets started, and it just goes to show that just because a team is Midwestern and mid-market doesn't mean that there aren't fans. Don't forget, if you have shots from today's practice that you'd like to see in a Game Time slide show, e-mail them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even in this shortened season, the Blues'll be on the national stage quite a bit. Many of the games are against NBC's usual broadcast darlings, but that doesn't matter -- what matters is that the team's on tv nationally.
The Blues have the potential to be on NBC's Sunday broadcast three times, with their flex schedule picking up games against the Red Wings (April 7th), Blackhawks (April 14th) and Avalanche (April 21st). No, the Blues aren't going to be featured three weeks in a row, but the possibility is awfully nice. The last game of the three also could be shown on NBCSN as well.
The Blues will be on that network six times including April 21st, with their first broadcast being January 27th versus the Minnesota Wild. They will also be featured against the Kings (February 11th), Detroit (February 13th), San Jose (February 19th), and Colorado (February 20th).
The games on the NHL Network won't be as close together as they are on NBCSN, but they will feature quality opponents. We'll see games against the Wings (February 1st), Dallas (March 3rd), San Jose (March 9th), and the Kings on March 28th.
To recap, all televised games are against the Wings, Hawks, Avalanche, Kings, and Sharks, with one random Stars game thrown in.
As tweeted by Lou Korac, here's what Ken Hitchcock is going with for the first day of camp:
Andy McDonald-Alex Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko
Matt D'Agostini-Vadimir Sobotka-Ryan Reaves
Chris Porter-Scott Nichol-Jamie Langenbrunner
Kris Russell- Alex Pietrangelo
Ian Cole-Roman Polak
Jeff Woywitka-Taylor Chorney
The big surprise (though it's not really a surprise since Hitch said it would happen) is that D'Agostini is skating with Sobotka and Reaves, while Jaden Schwartz is up with Bergie and Stewart. That seems to be a pretty big sign that Schwartz stands a good chance of making the team this season. Many assumed that he'd stay with the Rivermen, but with the way that he ended 2012, there always was the very real possibility that he'd be given an extended look at Blues camp. Where does this put D'Agostini? Possibly in the press box with Scott Nichol; for a player who has suffered through injury last year and had such a great season the one before that, this year might be terribly frustrating.
Also, if any of you have any photos of camp you'd like to see on Game Time in a slideshow, please e-mail them to us at email@example.com with your name for credit. Thanks!
It's a short season, so the number of giveaways won't be many, but as of right now here's what the Blues will be looking to give you guys as a token of their thanks:
1/19 – Enterprise Rally Towels (all fans)
1/24 – Centene Thundersticks (all fans)
1/27 – Pepsi Magnet Schedule (all fans)
2/9 – MO Lottery Ice Scraper (first 10,000 fans)
2/19 – Boeing Military Poster (all fans)
4/23 – Fry-Wagner Team Poster (all fans)
4/27 – Verizon Fan Appreciation Game
That is going to be one postage stamp sized magnetic schedule, isn't it? Oh well -- I'm still going to buy one off of eBay as is my annual out of towner tradition. Also, the ice scraper wouldn't be a bad idea either if it'd get cold enough this winter to freeze.
Anywho, I digress. Expect to see more giveaways -- oddly absent here is the annual Maxwell House Coffee mug, which I'm sure will pop up later on.
FINALLY. Those of you who aren't season ticket holders or partial season package owners can purchase your tickets to the abbreviated Blues season Monday starting at noon. Tickets will be on sale at the Ford Box Office as well as at Ticketmaster locations and on-line. The pricing will be tiered, with four weekday bronze games, 13 silver games, and seven gold games. Please see the Blues' website for pricing of the individual tickets, or you can see if you can get a deal right here at Game Time, via SB Nation's ticket affiliate TiqIQ.
The cheapest ticket you can get off of the Blues' website for Saturday night's game against the Detroit Red Wings is $42. Get saving.
Everything's ready for the Blues to repeat as the Central Division Champions, but it's not going to be easy at the grueling pace of this abbreviated season.
Finally, the season's training camp is here. Doors'll open at 10:30 Sunday morning at Scottrade Center, with practice set to begin at 11:00. Following the team's practice, the Blues will host a Q&A with the team's fans at various locations in the arena. As always, the sessions are free of charge, and this year the Blues will be offering concession specials as well as 20% off of gear at the Team Store.
Training Camp Schedule
Date Time Location
Sunday, Jan. 13 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Practice Scottrade Center
1:30 p.m. Q & A with team Scottrade Center
Monday, Jan. 14 11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Practice Scottrade Center
Tuesday, Jan. 15 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Scrimmage Scottrade Center
Wednesday, Jan. 16 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Practice Scottrade Center
Thursday, Jan. 17 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Pre-Game Skate Scottrade Center
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Scrimmage Scottrade Center
Friday, Jan. 18 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Practice Scottrade Center
Much-anticipated Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko arrived in St. Louis last night via Siberia, and he wasted no time hopping onto the ice to participate in informal skates with the members of the team who're in town. He skated today at The Ice Zone at St. Louis Outlet Mall, the last member of the team in town for an abbreviated training camp assumed to begin on Sunday.
"I think he’s a pretty complete player," added McDonald after skating with Tarasenko on Friday. "His awareness, his ability to get the puck, he’s got a great shot…just the awareness thing is a huge factor. Call it awareness or call it hockey sense, but your ability to read the play, where your teammates are around you, where the defenders are…players like that make it easy to play with."
"It’s a precamp skate, so it’s very different from what camp will be and what games will be. But from what I pick up, (Tarasenko) is very intelligent. He doesn’t seem shy to talk and that’s very important. He’s a very good hockey player."
Blueliner Ian Cole is in limbo at the moment, still officially a member of the Peoria Rivermen but being held out of game action by the parent St. Louis Blues in order to preclude possible injury with a short training camp and a lockout-shortened 48-game NHL season on the horizon.
The Blues' most anticipated prospect in years, Vladimir Tarasenko, is expected to return to St. Louis this week to prepare for camp.
They're no Pittsburgh Penguins, but I have to say that having 16/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup is more than quite a few folks would expect for the Blues. It's exactly the same odds as the Detroit Red Wings' and the Boston Bruins'.
Odds to win the 2013 Stanley Cup
Aw, wow. Phoenix is 40/1 with the Minnesota Wild are 18/1? I guess getting to the Western Conference Finals doesn't count for much. Speaking of the Western Conference, here're the odds for it:
Odds to win the 2013 NHL Western Conference
I'm not sure if Bovada means as far as regular season record "winning the conference" or "making it to the Western Conference Finals and winning" winning the conference. Considering that the Canucks are at the top, I'll assume the former.
There are tons and tons of things that we've missed about the NHL season. What about the lockout, though?
Presumably Andy McDonald isn't embarrassed anymore, seeing as how the league and the NHLPA finally have hammered out a CBA that everyone can live with. A few days ago, though, before the lockout ended, he told the Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford this:
"It’s the first time I’ve been embarrassed to say that I’m an NHL hockey player."
It's understandable that McDonald is embarrassed about the CBA resolution process that took 113 days. It's alienated fans and caused both the teams and the players a holy PR nightmare. Should that embarrassment carry over to being a player itself?
I get what AMac's saying here, but there's nothing to be mortified over for him. He's in the best hockey league in the world, which means that, of course, he's one of the best at his job that same world. There is nothing wrong with being a professional hockey player who is NHL caliber. There's really little for McDonald to be embarrassed over as far as participating in the CBA talks. He's been optimistic since the beginning that a compromise would be reached, as you can tell from many of the quotes in Rutherford's article. He's been realistic, hasn't tweeted pics of him holding huge bricks of cash or with a new sports car, and has been more than professional.
The lockout's been mortifying for the league and the players, but it's easy to separate the business side from the sport.
It's not locked in stone yet -- remember, they have to actually vote on the new CBA and make it official before they can start scheduling anything -- but some reports have been floated about stating that the season should start on the 19th. Team camps could be starting as soon as this weekend. Adrian Dater tweeted a link to his post today regarding the Avs' camp. Apparently it's to start on January 11th, or thereabouts. It'll be a quick camp and no exhibition games, but a good many of the guys have been staying in shape. The Blues who are in town, including Andy McDonald, David Backes, and T.J. Oshie, have been working on the ice in Chesterfield and are probably good to go.
The season'll probably be a 48 game one, but it could be a 50 game season if the scheduling allows. Saturday, January 19th seems to be the start date most pointed to as so all of the games can get worked in.
NHL sends memo to clubs indicating no camps before Saturday (and may not open until Monday), 48-game season to begin Jan. 19— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 7, 2013
Here're some of the best reactions from the guys on Twitter about the end of the NHL's lockout (David Perron, of course, vocalized his excitement via Facebook -- no word on if David Backes will do so via Pinterest):
T.J. Oshie on initial feeling of lockout being over: "Maybe Christmas day when you're about 10 years old." #stlblues— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) January 7, 2013
Thank you to all the hockey fans who have stayed with us and have been patient though this process. See you real soon!! #BestFansEver— TJ Oshie (@OSH74) January 6, 2013
Huge appreciation and thanks to both players and staff working non stop to get this done...last night and since this whole process began.— Brian Elliott (@KidElls1) January 6, 2013
David Backes short & sweet: "Happy to be back and it's about dang time." #stlblues— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) January 7, 2013
Most importantly I can't wait to get back to STL and see the boys and the best fans in the NHL! Time to go to work! #LGB— Kevin Shattenkirk (@shattdeuces) January 6, 2013
STL bound #gameon— chris stewart (@CstewSTL25) January 6, 2013
David Perron's got a bit of a reputation as being a total hockey geek, and we love him for it. His Twitter feed has example after example of this, and apparently it's bled over into his Facebook wall as well"
I tried to stick just with the status update, because some in the comments have made it their personal goal to rain on Perron's parade, and that's just not nice. That's like walking up to a little kid and knocking an ice cream cone out of his hand, or stepping on his feet while he's showing off his new white skates. Not cool, dudes. Not cool.
What's Perron most excited about other than the season finally starting? You just have to look at his last re-tweet to see:
Any #NHL player not on entry level contract will now have own room on the road. Used to be 600 games played in league— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) January 6, 2013
Contrary to popular belief, the Game Time meeting with Mr. Stillman did not cause the end of the NHL lockout... or did it?
No, it didn't.
Anyway, Mr. Stillman released this statement on the pending conclusion of the NHL lockout, and needless to say, he feels the same way that most of us do -- that the puck needs to be dropped and the Blues' Central Division banner needs to be raised.
As you may know, the NHL and the Players’ Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new CBA. It looks like your St. Louis Blues will soon return to the ice.
As we prepare for the season opener, I want to apologize to all Blues fans, especially our season ticket holders, suite holders, and sponsors. We share in your disappointment and frustration about the lockout and the lack of Blues hockey over the past three months. As you can imagine, the last thing our new ownership group wanted in our first year was a lockout and no Blues hockey. Everyone in the organization -- the players, hockey management, the front office – would have preferred to start the season on time.
Moving forward, our aim is to make up for lost time and to earn your continued support. As I said last May, we are firmly committed to the Blues and to ensuring the franchise’s long-term success here in St. Louis. With the lockout behind us, we reaffirm that commitment. But we know we cannot succeed without you, and we hope you will continue to support us at this critical time.
As you know, we have an exciting season ahead of us. The Blues, led by GM of the Year Doug Armstrong and Coach of the Year Ken Hitchcock, are coming off one of the best campaigns in franchise history and are widely viewed as one of the top teams in the NHL. The compressed season will be intensely competitive, with each game crucial in the race for the playoffs. We can’t wait to get started, and we sincerely hope you will be there with us.
Once again, I am sorry for the delay in starting the season. Thank you for your patience and support during the last few months. We hope to see you at a Blues game soon.
With the official end of the lockout about to be announced, what's going on in our backyard with the Blues? Most importantly: when's puck drop?
After losing three months to the quagmire that were the NHL labor talks, both the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to a deal to end the league's third lockout. Camps could begin later this week.