The preseason has been played, the roster has been finalized. The beer is on ice, the brats ready for the fire. We stand just one day from the opening of the 2011-12 season for the St. Louis Blues and all we’ve got is time on our hands while we idly daydream of thunderous goals and playoff celebrations.
To help fill that time and also substitute for some run of the mill season preview we really didn’t want to write in the first place (last year I compared each player with a breakfast cereal), we’re mixing it up. For the next 24 hours we’re ranking players on the roster according to how important they are to this season from 24 down to No. 1. Every hour from now until Saturday morning will be a new story where we make our case for the ranking. Hopefully you’ll also learn something about the dude and not send me a letter bomb because your favorite player is really close to 24 (otherwise known as Cam Janssenville).
These are my rankings with a little input from a few inmates who run the asylum around here with my words. Yes, I wrote all 24 of these damn things because it was my idea. I need to have ideas that require less effort. We’ll award extra Schrutebucks for anyone who comments on stories between 3-5 a.m.
And now, we rank the top 24 players for the 2011-12 St. Louis Blues.
No. 24 B.J. Crombeen
We are not all destined to attend Harvard or Yale. Or Mineral Area College for that matter. Some of us will have desk jobs and others will actually do real work for a living. That’s how life is. That’s also how hockey teams work.
B.J. Crombeen is a grunt. He’s never going to look good on the stat sheet (he had seven goals and seven assists a season ago). His grittiness (he’s scrappy) is an important element on this team. But it also makes him expendable. He may be a nice guy, he may try really hard, he may not take as many thick-headed penalties as he used to. All that doesn’t make him irreplaceable.
If recent history is a good barometer, when guys who play passable or physical defense (plus/minus numbers be damned) and are good on the penalty kill get overpaid, they get traded along with underperforming first-overall picks to mountainous cities two states away for promising players. That’s just life. Because Crombeen is cheap (he signed for two years for $2 million total, proving that “cheap” is a relative term), he remains here in St. Louis.
The Blues picked him up off waivers before the 2008-09 season from Dallas after playing just 23 games over two seasons for the Stars. He had one NHL goal to his name before arriving. The only things we knew about him before he got here:
- He’s kind of tall.
- His dad Mike played for the Blues from 1978-83.
- His real name is Brandon, but B.J. has so much more potential when you write a sarcastic hockey rag sold outside Blues home games.
Now we know that Crombeen is willing to drop the gloves when needed (even though he’s not going to intimidate anyone with his punching), can create a little havoc and mischief on the forecheck and will never be confused with a goal scorer. He hit 11 goals in his first season in St. Louis, mainly due to a three-goal game – a feat his father didn’t even accomplish in the National Hockey League.
Crombeen is also a diabetic. Being diagnosed at age 9, he’s grown up with the struggle of keeping his blood sugar under control while training and performing as a professional athlete. He’s also taken time out to meet with kids in the hospital who face the same uphill battle he’s had most of his life. That’s commendable. But that can’t sway his ranking.
Here’s the test: If Crombeen goes down with a big injury, would you be worried? Exactly.
(Editor’s Note: I wrote this a day before he broke his shoulder blade. Phrophetic?)
See you in an hour.