Do the St. Louis Blues need to rebuild?
February 17, 2023
Hitting the big blue reset button
There are a few ways to approach something that is broken. You could ignore the problem and let the issues fester and be left untreated. You could panic and tear everything down without trying to diagnose what’s wrong. Or, you could take the sensible approach and try to fix the problem before it gets out of hand. The St. Louis Blues are defective. They are currently positioned right in the middle of a repulsively terrible Western Conference with no signs of improving in the standings. Their poor play is a problem that needs to be fixed.
The taste of success Blues fans had in 2019 has the potential to blind them to the reality of the current situation. When looking at the top teams in the NHL, the Blues simply don’t have the personnel of a contending team. They don’t have the high-flying offense of a team like the Maple Leafs, the lockdown defense of the Hurricanes, the stud goaltending of the Rangers or the well-rounded play of the Bruins. This isn’t 2019. The team in 2019 had everything this current squad lacks. The incredible defense, traded. The tough bottom-six play, walked. The reliant offense and solid goaltending, disappeared. This team will not be winning the Stanley Cup. The sooner Blues fans recognize this reality, the sooner the problems can be solved.
What is that solution? A retool. Hit the reset button. Spend a few years acquiring young talent and focus on winning the 2026 Stanley Cup. Rebuilds are never fun. They’re not fun for the fans because there is little chance the team will win the championship for several seasons. They’re not fun for the players because there is a possibility that they or their teammates could be traded at any time. And they aren’t fun for the owners who don’t get any playoff revenue and have to watch the attendance decrease. So why would anybody opt for a rebuild? Because they are inevitable, whether people want them or not. No team can stay on top forever. It’s better to go out on your own terms and sell off key players, than to falsely believe your contending window is still open. It’s equivalent to getting a painful shot or studying for a big test. It sucks right now, but if you don’t get it done, things will be a lot worse later.
Young forwards, Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, are both under 25 years of age with bright futures ahead of them. Star winger, Pavel Buchnevich, is only 27-years-old. The Blues have many young stars in the pipeline, such as Jake Neighbours, Zachary Bolduc and Jimmy Snuggerud, all of whom are under 21-years-old. The Blues have lots of pieces for the future, but these young players aren’t going to be enough to propel them to success on their own. The Blues need more help via the draft. They don’t need a full rebuild like we’ve seen in Chicago or Arizona. Those rebuilds took over a decade. This team needs more of a retool, i.e a shorter version of a rebuild.
The 2023 NHL Entry Draft is supposed to be one of the most stacked drafts ever with incredible talents like Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Matvei Michkov projected to go in the first round. The Blues have multiple players over 30-years-old who could easily fetch a first round pick before the NHL’s March 3 trade-deadline. It’s always hard to say goodbye, but fan favorites Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko will need to be moved before the deadline in exchange for draft picks to ensure the success of the team in the future. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but Blues fans need to accept a rather uncomplicated trade. Be middling for the next three seasons so that they can be a powerhouse for the next 10. The alternative? Be decent for the next two seasons and then be awful for the next decade. What do you choose?
Doug, don’t hit the button.
After missing the playoffs just nine times in their 56 year existence, the Blues have gone cold. If you’re a diehard fan, you might have a little spark of hope left, a belief in young talent sparking a 2019 run, but it’s not happening. Gathering small wins here and there in exchange for an eight game losing streak isn’t exactly pleasing the season ticket holders. To some, it’s time for the rebuild. Send the big names packing for draft picks, and ruin our chances of making the playoffs for the next couple years. Yet, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t need to rebuild, instead, it’s time to get creative.
Blues fans are either in denial, or over-eager to waste away the years of selectively developing our core by trading away all the key components. To those in denial, have you taken a look at the standings? Barely above the Blackhawks and the Coyotes in the division. Two teams taking decade long rebuilds, and we can’t seem to compete.
Then there’s the fans who have seen the Blues play hockey in the last year. Understandably, they want Head Coach, Craig Berube, fired and our generational talents traded away. They’ve seen how slow Ryan O’Reilly looks on the ice, how Torey Krug can’t defend and how Colton Parayko is continuing to flounder.
It’s time to put Vladimir out of his misery.
At least, a rebuild is what most Blues fans are willing to do. But, let’s be real. The Blues suck because the front office has let them down. General Manager, Doug Armstrong, isn’t some mystical being. He’s imperfect, and he’s shown his hand. The reality that we can’t pray away our woes is setting in for (some) Blues fans, so let’s talk solutions.
Trade Vladimir Tarasenko. He’s been a city hero for years. Even I fondly remember going to his first game in the NHL. But, it’s time. His public temper tantrum over not being named captain has shown me that he’s toxic in the locker room and arrogant on the ice. Worse, he’s made it public that he wants out. Leaking to the media a trade request that he still hasn’t rescinded? I’ve been to enough parties and played on enough teams to know that if someone isn’t having a good time, they’re the last person you want to be around.
To a young star, seeing your veteran leader constantly complain isn’t exactly motivational.Unfortunately for them, they have no control over who’s on the bench. Blues fans, it’s time to put Vladimir out of his misery. Give him some food, some water and send him floating down the Mississippi on his raft of mopey-ness.
That being said, the river serves as a metaphor for the good left in this team. As long as the river keeps flowing, the Blues will have talent. In huge trades, GM Doug Armstrong has managed to keep our talent shed full. And Blues fans, even if sending Vladdy down the river hurts our hearts, soon it will return us a bounty. A silver jug floating gently down the Mighty Mississippi’s waters – etched with the names of the long-bearded, the exhausted, the triumphant. The names of the champions. The names of the St. Louis Blues.