By Brad Lee
If I was superstitious, I would say the 2007-08 Blues calendar jinxed the team last season. And the damn thing is having an effect on this season too. Now that it's run out and doesn't extend into October, maybe I should burn it.
The thing was destined to be a disaster when Eric Brewer was the first player featured. I firmly believe Brewer is a cyborg. Watching him on the ice, the defenseman plays without emotion 82.3 percent of the time, maybe more. Oh he'll show some emotion in a game in Edmonton, one of his former teams. He'll crack a rye smile if he's on the ice during a goal. Otherwise, he's stoic, metal-like. Maybe the calendar-makers had a premonition about Brewer being named team captain mid-season by leading off the 12 months with him. Piss-poor choice and the thing was off to a bad start.
In November, Keith "Big Walt" Tkachuk was featured with about a week's worth of stubble in the picture. It's nearly half gray. Can't fault a guy for getting old, but he sure played like he was old near the end of the season -- with or without him scoring his 500th career goal.
December had Emmanuel Legace and I would never say a cross word about his play last season. He did miss the beginning of December with an injury. I'm sure that was purely coincidental.
Paul Kariya was not the player the Blues thought he would be last season. He was the featured Blue for January. He had a decent month, but as the season reached the stretch run in February, critics said No. 9 looked at least a step slower and wasn't the offensive force the team needed, especially on the power play.
February was a train wreck with Doug Weight. He sucked during the early months of the season even while the team was playing well. He was approached in early December about waiving his no-trade clause. He said no. They asked him again and threatened his playing time. He reconsidered, approved the trade and was gone in mid-December to Anaheim. So it was just plain awkward when Blues fans flipped the calendar on Feb. 1, the same day Anaheim was in St. Louis...and the Blues gave away Doug Weight figurines. What, couldn't they have given him a key to the city too? Retire his jersey? Brutal.
And then there's March, the month for Bryce Salvador who was traded to New Jersey on Feb. 26. Two months, two guys who were traded away before they even got to him in the calendar. Now I didn't have the emotional attachment to Sal that some did, but he was a useful, comparatively cheap player who was pretty much guaranteed gone during free agency in July anyway. Still, I looked like a moron in my cubicle flipping from an Anaheim player to a New Jersey player with my St. Louis Blues calendar. But it didn't stop there. Hell no.
April was Barret Jackman, a guy they came really close to trading in February. They dodged a bullet on that one. The same thing happened with May and featured player Fragile Jay McKee. Do you know how many injuries and games on the injured list McKee probably should have had by the month of May? The calendar people were daring McKee to have a career-threatening injury.
June is barely worth mentioning because it had Lee Stempniak, a player with a season barely worth mentioning.
July is the month that comes after the NHL draft, firmly in the home stretch for the calendar that runs until September. It's also the month after featured player Jamal Mayers was traded to Toronto. That means one-quarter of the players in the calendar were traded before they got to bask in the glow of their own month. It's diabolical.
Mr. August almost brought the same fate upon himself. David Backes in July signed an offer sheet with Vancouver. The Blues took less than two hours to match the offer, but it's conceivable team president John Davidson could have let him walk for compensation. And just when you think it can't get any worse, heloooooooo September.
It's the last month on the calendar. It's up on the wall during training camp as excited fans prepare for the season to drop the puck the second week in October. Of course the team chose to put up the face of a player that's all about the future, the player that represents the future and brighter expectations for the team. Of course they would put former No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson on September. And of course the last month the calendar had before it hit the trash can it would shit on us one more time with Johnson tearing his knee to bits on a damn golf course.
It's a good thing I'm not superstitious because the Blues start the new season Friday with another team calendar night. I'm going to be there and I readily admit that I have been lost since Oct. 1 when I suddenly didn't have a calendar by my desk anymore. I just hope Legace, Tkachuk and Andy McDonald, who will be unrestricted free agents after the season, are featured before the trade deadline in February.