You might vaguely remember a guy named Erik Johnson. Top draft pick in 2006? Golf cart? Defenseman of tomorrow? He was considered one of the Blues' young guns and future building blocks. What happened when the Blues went through a stretch of less than inspiring play in 2011? Johnson became a building block, all right -- he built the team Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk thanks to general manager Doug Armstrong's ability to hoodwink Colorado Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman. It's widely believed that the Blues won that trade, which also involved defensively responsible forward Jay McClement.
It was a wake up call to the Blues and their fans. No one player, regardless of their talent level or reputation, is bigger than the success of the team as a whole. Sometimes reminding the rest of the team about that fact snaps them out of whatever issues they're having. Right now, the Blues are having issues.
It sounds whiny to complain about the team when they're in a playoff spot, but this isn't a complaint session. This is a legitimate questioning of some fundamental issues that the team's having that are holding them back. Getting pucks on net, focusing on what's going on around you, not on what you want to do -- this has been a large problem. Said Ken Hitchcock while the Blues were in the midst of their losing streak:
"How many times were you folks sitting in the stands saying shoot the puck onto the net. How many times," asked Hitchcock. "How many times did you say why did you pass it there to a covered person when you could’ve put it on the net?"
That's still a question that's valid to ask. You need to look at who is most guilty of this and how the team has responded to get a good feeling as to who the most likely to be the player that is the sacrificial lamb, if sacrificial lambs were in the habit of not playing to their full potential and in the team mold.
For some reason, this quote from David Perron after the Blues' loss to the Blackhawks really rubbed me the wrong way:
"I like the way I worked most of the game, but I didn't like the way I turned the puck over," forward David Perron said. "I turned the puck over a couple of times and that's something we can't have on our team.
"It's something that the way our our system is, you've got to funnel the puck to get it back and shoot it on net as much as you can. I think the two times I did turn it over I could have shot it on net instead. I guess when you're trying to look for offense, it's tough...but you've just got to keep following the program."
It's far more focused on the individual than the team, and that's bothersome -- especially since David Backes basically called out the individual agendas on the squad a few weeks ago as a reason that they weren't winning games.
And of course, look at the player that got demoted on Friday night off of the top line. It's not like Perron isn't producing -- he has six goals and seven assists -- but there hasn't been a spark between those top three guys for a while, and after Perron got bumped off of the top line, you barely heard his name for the rest of the broadcast.
I'm not predicting Perron will get traded -- I'm not predicting anyone will get traded. But if the Blues need to snap their team out of this funk, they're going to have to trade an Untouchable, and they're going to have to trade someone who will get something in return. Perron's status on the team lends itself well to the Blues getting what they need. He's a valuable player, but you have to trade something to get something in return.
I'm about 110% sure that all of you have players that you can see getting shipped out -- please share them in the comments, and why. I just can't shake the feeling that the days of Dangles are numbered in St. Louis.