Those who have been around the site for the last few years and have read the St. Louis Game Time paper the last couple years know I'm not the biggest fan of Steve Ott as a hockey player, not in the least. For a lot of people, this seems to resonate well. For some people, they feel the need to vigorously defend the man. And then there's a shit-ton of indifferent people, which I've never understood but . . . hey, you do you, dudes.
Anyway, it should come as no shock to you that I am advocating the Blues not bring back Steve Ott for another go-around. Long story short . . . you've paid so much for this man to get so little production that technically speaking he may owe YOU two free years.
BUT HE'S A GREAT PRESENCE IN THE LOCKER ROOM! HE'S A GREAT TEAMMATE! HE HAS ALL THE INTANGIBLES THAT MAKE A HOCKEY TEAM BETTER!
Oh. Okay. Well, make him a fucking coach, then. Is that so hard to do?
Listen, I would love to have a beer or five and a long conversation with Steve Ott. He seems like a super cool dude off the ice. But that's the problem . . . he seems so much better OFF the ice than he is ON the ice. And if there was ever a guy I would gladly like to see a team pay to not play just to save us all the trouble, it might be Steve Ott.
He was acquired in a trade between the Sabres and Blues (the infamous Ryan Miller deal, essentially as a throw-in to make the salaries work out). He made about $800K in that final 23-game stretch for the Blues (if my per-game math is correct), then $2.6MM in each of the past two full seasons. So in two seasons and two months, Steve Ott made approximately (perhaps a shade over) $6MM.
In that time, including playoff games, Ott played a total of 140 games. You would think something useful would have to come from paying a guy $6MM to play 140 hockey games, yes?
Well, in those games, Ott amassed a grand total of . . . three goals and 17 assists for a total of 20 points. 20 points in 140 games played.
And admittedly, I could give a shit about the plus/minus statistic because it really doesn't tell a whole lot . . . but if YOU care, in those 140 games, Ott amassed an impressive -26. And when you stop to consider how few minutes the man was playing toward the end of his Blues tenure (because Ken Hitchcock might have finally caught on to the fact that maybe he wasn't that good at hockey) . . . I mean, I can't even be mad about that massive number. That's just impressive, to be on the ice for THAT many goals against. And of course, as is the nature of plus/minus, that number doesn't include goals allowed on the penalty kill. Killing penalties was a thing Steve Ott regularly did (when he wasn't injured or in the box himself) for some reason despite clearly showing himself to be defensively irresponsible.
Yet, despite his massive deficiencies in his hockey game, the team kept running him out there whenever he was healthy. Thankfully, this past season, it was almost exclusively in a fourth-line role, where being a shithead without having to do things like "be good at hockey" were largely sheltered. I will admit . . . a couple times, he was able to coerce a fight with a guy that was clearly superior to him in skill and take that player off the ice at his own expense. His attempts to do that in the playoffs, though . . . not exactly successful, and when that's basically your only calling card, it makes it easy not to play you.
But what really gave me a headache at times was the tendency for Hitch to throw Ott out there with skilled players, moves that were generally characterized as trying to give a "spark" to the players Ott would be playing with. Uh, Hitch, I think it was Ott that needed the spark, not the other guys.
Look, I don't believe the Blues have room on their roster next year for Steve Ott anyway. But if they feel like they do, they should really think against it. He's a player that never really had a prime but is well past the prime playing age of hockey players, and apart from the occasional shit-disturbance, he's not all that useful when he's playing.
And again, as much as the Blues have paid him in the last two-plus years, he owes the team a year or two to make the money balance out.
And to paraphrase a former NHL coach . . . "If he's such a great guy in the locker room, maybe he should stay there." I've gotten to that point with Steve Ott. I have a sense I'm not alone in that assessment.