Blow it up.
Three straight years of playoff failure (for a franchise that is synonymous with franchise failure) is enough. It’s time to change course.
The Blues just crapped the bed on national TV. Up 2-0 in the series, the Blues lost four straight as the core, once again, showed what they’re really made of. When the going got tough, the Blues turtled and went home. This core of players doesn’t have what it takes to win and this leadership hasn’t shown it can win either.
Change must start at the top. General Manager Doug Armstrong went all in this season. Given permission by the overly generous, but not overly wealthy, owner Tom Stillman, the Blues went for it. For the first time in the cap era, the Blues spent to the cap. Free agents were brought in and a blockbuster trade was made. Armstrong went all in and busted.
The last three years have been the culmination of the rebuild after the 2004 lockout. The young players were mature, some other pieces were brought in and the Blues went for it. It didn’t work.
All Armstrong has done is turned one of the best prospect pools into one of the worst. After Jake Allen, Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin, the Blues don’t have anyone near the NHL who can contribute. And it’s not going to get much better with Armstrong giving away draft picks like the Blues giving away 2-0 series leads.
Armstrong brought in Jay Bouwmeester, who is really great, but is a mirror image of Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo. He’s a smooth skating offensive d-man who is not physical. The Blues lack of physicality on the blueline has been exposed time and time again in the playoffs. They don’t need Hal Gill or Doug Murray or some dinosaur, but they need someone besides Jackman and Polak to provide some physical play and make it uncomfortable to play against the Blues.
His biggest move to date was making the Blues "five percent better" by bringing in Ryan Miller to replace the flakey Jaroslav Halak. Miller was supposed to be the missing piece. I bought it. It was a risky move, but I dug it. Getting a shutdown goalie who was playing out of his mind for a bad Buffalo team? Sure. With the Blues elite defense, he had to be a difference maker. He wasn’t. You can put Game 3 squarely on him and some other goals weren’t good.
Miller, again, wasn’t the problem but he was supposed to be the solution. The surly emo goalie shouldn’t be brought back. It’s Jake Allen’s time.
Up front, Armstrong has refuse to address the scoring issue. Derek Roy was brought in and sent to the doghouse.David Perron was traded for a healthy scratch. The Blues are still trying to get by with two second lines. Jaden Scwhartz and Vladimir Tarasenko may be the elusive first-line players the Blues need, but they’ll never play on the top line with Ken Hitchcock in charge.
Armstrong has built a flawed roster, but Hitchcock is the coach. Three straight years he’s been outcoached in the playoffs. The power play was a joke, Vladimir Sobotka was a second-line center playing huge minutes despite having no offensive game. The fourth line of Max Lapierre, Chris Porter and Adam Cracknell was so good that Hitch broke it up. Ryan Reaves dressed for all six games and probably didn’t play as much as Pietrangelo did in Game 1.
The end of Game 6 said it all. The Blues have tuned out Hitch. He can’t motivate this team because he grasping at straws. He’s just throwing shit at the wall and they know it. They got down 2-1 and just gave up. No pride, and no desire to play hard for the coach.
Hitchcock and Armstrong have gotta go. The Blues need changes and they need new leadership. The answer to everything isn’t "Dallas Stars." And please, if you get rid of Hitchcock, make sure to clean house on all the assistants, too. There’s no reason Brad Shaw and Ray Bennett should be here for more of this shit. They’ve been here since 2006. That’s too long.
On the ice, well, we have a whole offseason to discuss what to do. What they should do? Make some changes. Get a second-line center for the 2010 Draft Kids (Paul Stastny is a free agent). Get some toughness for the backend and get Jake Allen a backup goalie. Brian Elliott would be perfect, but I doubt he comes back.
It’s time to see some guys go. Patrik Berglund is a restricted free agent and I don’t know if he should be brought back. What does he bring to the table? Steve Ott should be gone and I really want Sobotka gone just so I never have to see him on the power play.
On defense, Jordan Leopold, Ian Cole, Carlo Colaiacovo and Roman Polak can’t exist together. Someone has to go (all of them?) Kevin Shattenkirk might be a guy to move at the right price for the right piece.
And, for the love of God, the Blues can’t bank on Schwartz and Tarasenko to become 40-goal scorers. Get some offense in here.
The point is, Mr. Stillman can’t sit idly by. Changes need to be made and this isn’t the group to make them.
This group shouldn’t be the problem solvers. They are the problem.