The minute Brian Elliott stepped out of St. Louis and into a future(one season at least) with the Calgary Flames, 25 year old Jake Allen became the man. Ready or not, Blues fans, the kid is taking the reins in net for the foreseeable future and guess what, it’s okay.
Granted, I’ve spent the entire past season stuck in an awkward romantic comedy set in St. Louis. The guy who can’t choose between two great loves. It’s like choosing between John McClane and Maverick. I’ve always liked the gritty resilience of Elliott. No matter how many times the team brought in somebody to stand in his way, Moose popped a squat and just kept reading the paper until his name was called. I also liked the future is his knowledge that Allen brought to the table.
The minute he was thrust into net for an injured Jaro Halak and struggling Elliott back in 2012-13, Allen showed the eye of the fucking tiger in net. He was hungry yet respectful. Ready to serve yet calm. Nothing rattled him. He looked like Mark Zuckerberg’s understudy but climbed into and resembled a masked warrior. Day 1 the kid was legit.
I supported Ken Hitchcock riding the hot Allen in the 2014-15 playoffs. He earned it with a ridiculous closing stretch to the regular season and learned some tough lessons against the Minnesota Wild. I supported the idea of having him duke it out with Elliott last season until he got hurt and Moose threw all his fucks to give about allowing goals out the window.
It’s Allen’s time. He’s been in the organization for eight years and played with the big team for parts of three seasons. Two full seasons. If it isn’t his time, when is it? Why wait any longer with a 25 year old who owns 11 shutouts in just 89 career games? Once Elliott wanted to start, it was time to move on. I don’t have the numbers to back it up but I know 95% of Stanley Cups are won with one guy leading the charge in net. The 1A/1B idea got worn out and is gone.
What if he gets injured? Well, if Carter Hutton turns out to be a monstrous bum(let’s hope not), I guess you’ll have to see which one of your prized goalie prospects is ready to leave the Pacifier in Chicago and make the jump. It’s nice to have depth but it’s also cool having a clear cut answer in net. No more “hey there are buddies and it’s cool” white noise behind a layer of unknown yet possible controversy.
Allen owns the net and with that, gets the same responsibility that Pekke Rinne, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Tuukka Rask, and others have. Don’t fuck it up because the guy behind you may be a durable yet limited band-aid.
The Blues extended Allen for four years after his previous contract expires next season. That’s an assured pat on the shoulder from Doug Armstrong and Tom Stillman to pick this opportunity up and run with it.
I understand why fans can be weary with this move. Army could have let Elliott stay for his final year and then let him walk or see The Las Vegas team draft him. He could have let Allen finish the contract and see how he did. Instead, he traded Elliott for a 2nd round player(which isn’t as light of a return for a 31 year old goalie with one year left on his contract) and extended Allen.
Jim Corsi and Marty Brodeur signed off on the move along with Hitch. If you know what you have, don’t keep looking or wait to see how far it can run without a leash.
Celebrate and appreciate what Moose did for the team. They allowed the club to take a close look at Allen and nearly carried the team to the Stanley Cup Finals. Now, that run is over.
With the team getting younger, it was time to go with Allen. Look at what Army has done. He traded Elliott and allowed David Backes, Troy Brouwer, and Steve Ott to walk. That’s four players at 30 years or older that will not be Blues in 2016-17. Management is clearly going younger.
While it makes the coming season a little unpredictable and not as locked in to grasp at the moment(long summer, keep drinking!), I admire the transformation in net. I like Allen being “the guy”.
There may be a new era of Blues hockey formulating before our eyes. A few pieces are becoming locked in and that’s a good sign. You need one forward, two defensemen, and a goalie to know a team has a chance and identity in place. The Blues have that in Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo(the probable Captain), Colton Parayko, and Allen.
Do you believe in Allen? If not, it’s time to start right now.