Lord God in Heaven, will this finally stop the drama and the debates? A month ago, Blues fans were treated to the news that Jaroslav Halak and coach Ken Hitchcock were all cool with each other. Did this stop the speculation over who the number one goaltender is in St. Louis? Of course not.
All of this is understandable, after Halak's injury issues last season, Elliott's stellar play down the stretch, the rise of Jake Allen, and how well Halak and Elliott played together en route to the Jennings Trophy the season before last. Of course, people are going to wonder if, despite assurances from the team since about day uno of the Halak/Elliott tandem, who the number one is. The concept of a 1A/1B isn't reassuring to some folks; they want a definite. They have to have the number one guy laid out for them. Uncertainty bothers people. I can't blame them.
This is the opposite of uncertainty, though. Barring injury or weird disaster-level implosion, I think that the evidence safely points to Halak as the starter. He was intended to be the starter last season, before the injuries knocked him down for the count; it makes sense that Hitchcock intends for him to be the starter this season as well. Halak certainly assumes that will be his role; he stayed put in St. Louis working on conditioning this entire off-season. He is a lean, mean, goaltending machine.
"It was a tandem, but Jaro still played more than Brian (before Halak’s injuries). We were still going 55-45 (percentage of starts in favor of Halak) last year … that was the feeling going into the season.
"And then when both guys struggled and Jaro got hurt and Jake Allen came in, the whole landscape changed. In an ideal world, if you could turn back the clock, we had the best goals-against average in the NHL the way it worked (in 2011-12). If you could ever duplicate that, you sure give yourself a heck of a chance to win.
"(But) Halak hasn’t lost his starting job due to his play. He lost his starting job due to injury, so there’s a difference. If Brian comes in and takes the job, that’s one thing. My feeling is training camp is for evaluation, but to me it’s status quo as long as both guys are healthy."
That right there from Hitchcock should be enough to calm folks down. Not everything involves drama. Is this a middle school cafeteria? No, one would hope. How about this. How about Blues fans let the coach be the coach, put the person he believes to be the starter in, and let's see how it turns out. Despite a low save percentage last year, Halak's goals against average was fine. It's been fine since he's been a Blue.
It's time to stop worrying - and hopefully never start.