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The Return of Game Time Mailbag

Today in a very special edition of GTMB, Jabba Tkachuk takes on the Ken Hitchcock firing.

NHL: Winter Classic-Practice Day Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The firing of Ken Hitchcock has unleashed all sorts of opinions, and this is the place to share them. Have a contribution? Hit me up at hildymacgt at gmail dot com.

Today’s contribution comes from Jabba Tkachuk. Thank you!

We’ve come un-Hitched and Doug ourselves in a hole.

Well folks, the Hitch era has officially ended in St. Louis. It was fun while it lasted, but personally, I think some of you will agree that it was time for a change. We all had extremely high hopes going into this season, especially after we were so close to making it to the Finals last season, but after the piss poor efforts we’ve witnessed lately, I am starting to wonder how long it will be before Doug gets his walking papers next. Ken Hitchcock, without a doubt, will be in the Hall of Fame. He helped bring this team back to success and also made us a contender again. Unfortunately, this year has been less than successful. I had tweeted after the WCF last year that we should expect to see some new faces in St. Louis next year, and was right. What I didn’t expect, was how significant those losses would impact the success of this team.

For starters, I think letting Backes and Brouwer walk was a huge mistake. I had a feeling Backes would test the waters for sure after they said he didn’t want to talk contracts during the season last year. Backes and Brouwer were our “garbage men”. They were the big bodies in front of the net that picked up the dirty goals and gave us that physical presence and leadership that we seem to currently lack now. I may catch flak for this, but I don’t think that Petro should’ve been our captain this season. I like the guy, he’s one of the best defensemen in the league, but I truly believe Steen would have been the better choice for the “C”. On the plus side though, Berglund has stepped up his game as of late and finally realized that he actually has the strength, size, and ability to make his presence known (better late than never, right?). Although Berglund has performed well, it’s obvious that others, like Jake Allen, have slumped…..hard.

Jake was solidified as the number one as soon as the Calgary deal was done last June. There were a lot of mixed reviews about the whole deal, but with Jake’s recent atrocious play and his “mental block” it really leaves us all questioning whether Doug made the right move keeping him. I mean, Elliott has not been the same since leaving StL, but neither has Jake. Could it be that Allen is having personal issues off the ice? Was he just not adapting to Corsi’s methods? And why is it that when these players have children midway through the season, their game goes out the door? Now, I am not saying that is why he’s performed so badly this season, and I can understand becoming a first time parent would weigh pretty heavily on a person’s mind, but you got to leave your personal stuff at home, just like the rest of us try to do when it’s time to go to work (easier said than done of course). Whatever is bothering him though, we as fans can only hope that the Slumping Snake can get his game back before it’s too late. Hutton has been playing better as of late, but he’s not the one that we can count on for a deep playoff run, if they even make it to the playoffs.

There’s no doubt that Moose put up legendary numbers as a Blue. He was also one of the two primary reasons we were contenders for the last few years. But, I think the team in front of him had a lot to do with his success as well, because look at him now. Elliott’s tenure in Calgary has been….absolutely horrendous. Playing backup to Chad Johnson, Moose has gone 9-12-2 with a 2.88 GAA and .892 SV%. Jake, on the other hand, has posted similar lackluster numbers as well. But what if Doug and his constituents decided to keep Elliott last June instead of trading him for draft picks? I would rather have a “Who’s our number one?” controversy still than the goaltending shit show we’ve adopted this season. I don’t think Elliott had any idea how tough it would be in Calgary, but in my opinion, I think Moose would still be putting up 2.00/.920 numbers if he were still in St. Louis. Good job, Doug.

Now it’s Doug’s turn. I thought Flames GM Brad Treliving was nuts and made questionable deals, but holy hell! Doug’s cheese has slipped completely off his cracker. I hate the fact that we lost Brad Shaw before the season started and picked up Mike Yeo in his place. I also hate the fact that Yeo was named Hitchcock’s predecessor before the season even started. I still think that was the wrong move, and second, I don’t think Yeo is a very good head coach, but hopefully he can change my opinion come April. But almost every deal Doug has done since the end of last season has made me want to face palm a concussion into my head. Seriously, in what world is Nail Yakupov worth $2.5 million dollars????

Yak has never, and I repeat, NEVER, had a 20/20 season or even a 40 point season. He’s a career minus player and is ECHL top line material at best. Better yet, Jori Lehtera is making almost double that at $4.7 million dollars per year until 2018-19. Lehtera has not yet had a 50 point season and doesn’t even have 100 points in almost 200 games played!!!! Perron, I wasn’t too upset about that re-addition, but for $3.75 mil, that’s a little steep. He’s got 11 goals and 27 points this season but he’s usually good for at least a 40+ point year. Random fact though, Brett Hull scored 86 goals in 90-91 and was only making a little over $1.1 million that season. In fact, Hull didn’t break the $3 million per year mark until 95-96 but he had already proved that he was worth every penny, if not more.

So, what’s the deal with Doug making bad moves and giving superstar money to players that aren’t really superstars? Tarasenko is our current Hull, we don’t have a solid number one in the net, our best defenseman is currently trade bait, and I am still really salty about letting Brad Hunt get claimed by Nashville. Bortuzzo is either hurt or scratched and gets an extension and pay raise, and you let Hunt, who was nearly a point-per-game, 2-way defenseman in the AHL (and yes, that’s still considered a top professional league) get picked up on waivers for a guy that hasn’t even played a full season in his career! Plus, Hunt had a better showing in 9 games with the Blues than Bortuzzo has had since he came to St. Louis, so the potential was definitely there. Good call, Doug.

Normally I would say “Same Ol’ Blues” but for some reason I don’t exactly feel like it’s the player fault this year. It’s hard to fathom that a team that was so close to the Finals last year, may barely squeak into the playoffs this year. Call it a rebuild or whatever you want, but this is our 50 year anniversary. We finally got our Winter Classic in St. Louis, which was an awesome victory (suck it Hawks), got to see our old heroes suit up in the Alumni Classic and relive those old warm and fuzzy Blues feelings, and Bobby Plager’s #5 is finally going to be hanging in its rightful place next to Barc’s #8 where it should’ve been all along (no disrespect to Jax). This is supposed to be the year that this team picks their heads up, digs deep and gives everything they’ve got to finally win a Cup. Hell, that’s what Toronto is doing, and they’re practically in the same boat as we are with no cups since ’67, but they’ve got the better ‘Cock behind the bench.

There’s a lot of “what if’s?” to contemplate but if anyone should be on the chopping block now, it’s definitely Doug. So here’s to hoping that Yeo can get this team back on track for success and making it back to the playoffs, WCF and hopefully the Cup Finals. Also, don’t make anymore dumb moves, Doug, like trading Shattenkirk for nothing or letting him walk after this season. Remember Keenan? Don’t become the new Keenan.

Long Live the Note!