The Blues showed some spunk and determination in beating the Columbus Blue Jackets (not exactly the Canadiens of the 60's) 2-0 last night in Ohio. They got a shutout from Curtis Sanford. They got a goal and an assist from Lee Stempniak, who shows some promise, and ended their 11-game losing streak.
That's step one in getting things going in a different direction. It's hard to imagine they'll come right back and beat Detroit in Michigan Saturday night...but, life is full of little surprises.
No matter what they do on the ice, Blues followers still have the spectre of the unresolved "For Sale" sign hanging on the team. With the Checketts group bowing out of the takeover sweepstakes, there seems to be the growing sentiment that someone interested in re-locating the team may emerge with the cash. Of course, you can't help but be concerned about that if you're one who "bleeds blue". The longer the bidding goes, and the more we hear rumors about out-of-town bids, the harder it will be to muster any excitement for our boys. Not that it's easy now.
What have I heard? Nothing that has meat to it. But, I do know that the Kansas City group is licking it's chops. I have had the opportunity to work for the group that's trying to bring the NHL to KC the last few years. They annually host a pre-season game to impress NHL brass. They hire the off-ice officials and game night staff from St. Louis to help them put on a professional show. Paul McGannon and his NHL21 group have impressed upon me that they are totally serious about getting a team any way they can. If that means ponying up for the Blues, I'm sure they've got the means to do it and have probably made the necessary phone calls.
What's more than a little bit scary at this point is the apparent fact that the league is setting a bottom-line price for the team. They don't want the Lauries to take any ol' bid just to get rid of the team and set a low price for any expansion team the league may offer in the near future. That would mean that the price of the team (supposedly $150 million) is non-negotiable downward. If true...the Lauries could be put in the position of taking the money for the team and dealing with the problem of the Savvis Center lease later. If the team stays in St. Louis, it would, of course, require a package deal. If it doesn't, "Bill and Nancy Inc." could deal with the two products separately. It doesn't take a financial wizard to figure out that it then becomes more likely the team may be on it's way somewhere else.
Also scary is the lack of a public outcry to keep the team here. Back in the early 80's, when the rumors started flying that the team was headed for Saskatoon, there was all kinds of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth. This time, either the hockey faithful don't really believe there's a threat, or there is an overwhelming apathy. I'm not sure. I haven't heard any local bidder saying they are trying to make a deal either.
It's amazing how fortunes of Blues fans have changed so dramatically since the end of the season in April '04. I'm concerned that being a "Blue Bleeder" might soon require having to look at old video tape.