White skates. Tinted visor. Concussion. Prematurely entitled. Excessively hyped. Undressing Mark Streit. Talented. Potential enigma. Individual.
The laundry list of phrases, events, and adjectives that describe how recently traded forward David Perron will be remembered for in St. Louis.
If some had it their way another word would be included.
At least that's the case made by Blues beat writer at the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Jeremy Rutherford, in his latest article. Through 1,133 words Perron is portrayed as a young man who just began his career with the wrong team at the wrong time. Caught up in a franchise rebuild and identify crisis that elevated those who had not yet earned such an award big fish status in a small pond. A passionate individual that didn't know better when he didn't follow the unwritten code of conduct of his peers.
There is plenty of truth to what was written. Direct quotes from a head coach who always (as so perceptions says) put the young pup in the backyard doghouse, the big dog, and even Perron himself deliver the message as loud and clear as the "Twilight Bark".
But let's not get too caught up in the story telling.
David Perron was not misunderstood. Who he was as a player was perfectly transparent.
No matter the coach. Murray, Payne, or Hitchcock. No matter the situation. Regular season or playoffs. No matter the expectation. Happy go lucky cellar dwellers or division winning Cup "contenders".
Perron wanted to play the game his way and he did. Not that there is anything wrong with that. His burning desire to live what he loves is admirable. We should all be so lucky to.
But using a hammer to jam square pegs in to round holes cuts against the gain with what the Blues brass was trying to build when he was drafted and when he was traded. All the parts have their corresponding slot to fit in to and when they don't... well... we've seen how the platform splits under significant duress.
At times, early on, it was to be expected. Growing pains. As Murray said in JR's piece the kid just didn't know how to be a professional. Should the typical 18 year old hockey player be? Probably not. While it would be nice if all hot shot prospects could enter the league with the demeanor of a Tavares or Stamkos, but a high maturity level at that age is considered a rare trait for a reason. Time and experience are needed become a professional.
What exactly does that mean to be professional? As I was taught and have learned from my own experiences it means being able to find out what the SOB in charge wants and how to give it to them. A crude, but realistic way of putting it.
From that perspective it seems as if Perron needed more time and experience or wasn't going to figure it out.
The lessons Keith Tkachuk attempted to teach between periods about sharing the puck and working with his teammates, something every coach and the majority of veteran players wants to see, never seemed to sink in. Perpetually, Perron struggled with giving up the puck and his play without it. Further, his in game sense seemed to rise and fall throughout games where one shift he's deftly dangling the defense and the next he's not moving his feet and takes a lazy stick infraction nearly 200 feet from his goal.
Anecdotally, if Blues fans enjoyed a sip of an adult beverage every time either of the two occurrences occurred the business need to trade Peron may have never existed. Concession stand cash registers would have overflowed with green bills and credit card receipts.
Since the company line is that he was traded to clear out payroll room for the addition of major contracts for Chris Stewart and Alex Pietrangelo the business need was very much real. However, that doesn't stand to reason to be the only one. If Perron's ability to grow and be a professional, to find out what the SOB coach wants and give it to him, to what Ken Hitchcock was looking for from his top two forward lines, would Jaden Schwartz been entrusted with key 5 on 5 minutes on David Backes' left in the playoffs over him? If it were truly a money issue alone and had nothing to do with his performance then the franchise rebuilding block in his first season of a lucrative long term deal would have skated along side the captain. Instead the kid on an ELC took his job.
About the money? You bet. When you don't get the value you expected compared to what you paid, wouldn't you make a change? I would hope so.
The issue to chew on now is how and why Perron was misunderstood by those with the most insight because apparently he was.
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