Saturday, February 28, 2009

Buyers, Sellers or Both?

-A few days back I mentioned here that it would be interesting to watch what John Davidson, Larry Pleau and company do when faced with the March 4th NHL trade deadline. (That's Wednesday folks) Now that the team has pulled itself back into close proximity of the final playoff spot, it will be even more interesting. Let me share my thoughts. (Remember, I am not a pro sports executive...nor do I play one on TV) First...let's recap some of the trade deadline rumors in the wind.

-The Hockey News has touted a Keith Tkachuk/Dan Hinote to New York Rangers for a prospect-and-a-pick deal for several weeks now.
-There have been rumblings out of Boston that the Bruin fan base will be sick if the B's don't acquire Tkachuk before the deadline for their stretch run. KT being a hometowner and all.
-Bernie Miklasz dropped David Perron's name as one who may go to Anaheim in a deal to bring back Chris Pronger to anchor the Blues D. It seems likely the Ducks would deal Pronger if possible before he goes free-agent on them. and Team 1380's Andy Strickland has said Tkachuk won't go to the Rangers because of his no-movement clause and their up-in-the air coaching situation. Andy also blogs about the possibility of a Pronger deal but says young D-man Alex Pietrangelo might be the Blues youngster involved in such a transaction. So, with all that as a backdrop, here are a few thoughts.

If I'm JD and LP (and I'm not) I keep my eye on the future. If we're being honest with ourselves we can't get so wound up about this year's team that we lose focus. I believe we have to keep putting horses in the stable for the teams that will actually have a chance to win it all. That won't happen..IMHO..this year. Sure, Andy Murray's bunch has been wonderful to watch, especially considering the injury-hampered roster, since the first of the year. Lots of hard work. Lots of emerging talent. Great goaltending. But does this roster realistically have a shot at the finals? Even the playoffs..considering the brutal roadtrip in early April?

So in order to formulate a championship roster for 2010-15 or so when we can realistically envision a Cup, I would both buy and sell. If I can coerce Mr. Walt to spend the rest of this season in the Eastern Conference, I would move him to acquire another top offensive prospect or high pick. I might consider attempting to re-sign him to come back home for his final season or two after that if the deal is right, and he's willing to accept a lesser role on the team.

Then, if acquiring Pronger for a propspect or two is a possibility, I would also do my best to make that happen. Not only would he bring the size and nastiness back to the blue line that this team lacks, he has plenty of name recognition and equity in the market to regain his fan favorite status of a few years ago. Think of what Prongs would mean to ticket sales for '10 and beyond. And ticket sales, don't kid yourself, are a big part of winning any championship. If the front office can count on a season of sellouts...and at least a few post-season "bonus cash" games, all resources necessary can be channeled to the on-ice effort. (I don't think anybody is using number 44 these days either).

Let's see...even if you sent Pietrangelo to Anaheim in the deal. You would be looking at a defense next year that includes Chris Pronger, Eric Brewer, Erik Johnson, Barret Jackman, Roman Polak, Carlo Colaiacovo and then take your pick of (Jeff Woywitka, Jonas Junland, Jay McKee, Steve Wagner, Tyson Strachan, Ian Cole, Mike Weaver, or a few others). With or without the potential Pronger deal it appears that soon the Blues defense should almost have an embarassment of riches...minus the injuries that held the team back this year.

Managing to pull off both a buy and a sell at the deadline would also send the signal to the fans that you're still in it for this year...but making the necessary roster adjustments to be a real contender for next year, and beyond. Like I said, it will be interesting to watch.


By the way, Tuesday night's game with Detroit will be my 1000th as Blues PA man. I am blessed to have been associated with this organization and to have been healthy enough that its also 1000 consecutive games since I sat behind the mic for the first time in January of 1987. Much thanks to the man upstairs for both.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Five Things

-I'm pulling for Skip Schumaker to be able to pull off the transition to second base. He seems like the kind of athlete who could make it happen...and the kind of person who will give it his best shot. If he does it effectively, The Birds, when healthy, will sport a very formidable lineup. It would give them their best chance to compete for another championship. Even without Schumaker's fliperoo, they'll be OK if Chris Carpenter is able to stay healthy and the closer situation is settled down effectively early in the season.

-Keep your eyes on the Blues over the next week or so. It will be very interesting to watch how they handle things as we approach the March 4th trade deadline. Being only 5 points behind the 8th place team in the Western Conference (as I write), and with several teams either tied with them or between them and a playoff spot, its how they do in the next 3 or 4 games that might determine whether John Davidson, Larry Pleau and company will be in a buy or sell mode. People like Keith Tkachuk, Dan Hinote, Manny Legace and a few others could easily be moved if it appears that the playoff spot is out of reach. The interesting part is that with so many young stars ready in the wings to claim spots on next year's roster, it would be silly to hold on to some guys if you can get anything in return in a deal. The temptation will be great to stock up on some more draft picks.

-I was infuriated to read about the woman who ran the disgusting puppy mill in southwest Missouri at which 208 dogs were seized the other day. There needs to be stricter punishment for people who try to make money on the backs of helpless animals. These dogs were all but being tortured in the living conditions they had. The woman was apprarently even feeding some of the puppies (alive or dead?) to a tiger she also had in her compound. I pray that A) somebody writes and passes a law with teeth that will put an end to this stuff, and B) there's a special place in Hell for the sub-humans who use dogs in this way.

-Which brings me to my next topic. Maria Keena (my co-host on KMOX on weekend mornings) and I were chatting off the air this morning about some of the stories in the news. We wondered if there are any honest people left in the world? There was the puppy mill lady...investment schemes to bilk clients (i.e. Bernie Madoff and others)...Roland Burris/Rod Blagojevich...the many culprits in the mortgage crisis. And that's non-violent crime stuff. It all makes one wonder if conducting a life with dignity and honor has completely gone out of style. Whatever happened to an honest day's wages for an honest day's work? Too much like work I guess...which is maybe too hard to find with the current economy.

-I haven't mentioned it here before, but wife Barb has been thrilled with the response since she opened up her own dog-grooming shop at the Bellson Animal Hospital in Columbia, IL in January. Business at The Doggie Stylist at Bellson has been building steadily without even much promotion. Of course, some of that has to do with the fact she's located on the lower level at a very successful veterinary clinic. But there's also been considerable word-of-mouth business as well. I know one thing. If you have a dog that needs grooming on a regular basis and live in or somewhat close to Columbia (Waterloo, Millstadt, Red Bud, South County, Dupo etc.) where it makes geographical sense, you could not do better for a groomer than Barb. I watched her work with a dog the other day when I had some free time. And she has the most gentle, loving manner with these animals that you can imagine. It's obvious she enjoys (even though some subjects are a little difficult) her new career and the relationship she has with each and every canine customer. She kinda likes the humans that come in too. If you're interested, check out the website we've put up for her at

Thursday, February 12, 2009


-The Blues loss to Vancouver on Tuesday was one of the most painful since the Dave Checketts regime has been in place. To finally have the fans geeked up on playoff talk and then blow two, two-goal leads. Wow...not what the doctor ordered for sure. But, no matter what happens for the rest of this season...(and I know Andy Murray wouldn't like to hear this) the team's best days are at least months away... and more likely a year or two. The thought of having a healthy group (dare I have that thought?).. and the continued infusion of some of the budding stars who haven't even put on a sweater with a blue note exciting to no end. I still tend to wonder who's going to be playing in goal when these guys hoist The Cup though.

-I see where Chris Carpenter passed his first "on the mound" test with little difficulty. Even if he shows no ill effects from all the surgeries this year, you tend to wonder how many innings he'll be able to go. I'm guessing LaRussa and Duncan will have a pretty quick hook with him most nights if he shows signs of struggling. Carp's importance to the '09 possiblities is obvious and how he will be used..and how much...will be very interesting to see.

-This California woman who had the doing a really bad Angelina Jolie impression...and now has 14 kids...deserves some sort of punishment. But you tend to think that dealing with 14 kids will be enough. Maybe the doctor who implanted the embryos should have to kick in some bucks for support too.

-I'm starting to get into American Idol mode a bit. I watched most of last night's show because we're getting to the point where all of the silly stuff is over...and the real talent contest begins. I also see that one of the top 36 has already been eliminated. No explanation given by AI as to why 23-year-old Joanna Pacitti (pic) was disqualified. But I'm willing to bet that they decided she was too professional to continue. (Annie on Broadway as a kid--sang on the soundtracks of two movies...and she even had a CD released on '06 that sold 16-thousand copies.) If someone like that goes on to win...all of a sudden the show loses the "out of nowhere" appeal that the contestants have had so far.

-I read today that there's a guy here in St. Louis who claims the Blues...and more precisely Jim Woodcock, former Blues VP and now at Fleishman-Hillard...used his ideas when they came up with the team's new third jersey. Here's an article about it that ESPN put together. This fellow...Darryl Swint (pic) that the final look of the third jersey is way too close to ideas and drawings he submitted to the team back in '03...and as a long-time Blues fan he has his feelings hurt. Well, no disrespect intended Mr. Swint...but, A) the logo you came up with isn't really that close to the new logo. (No circle surrounding the Arch and Bluenote. The old "flying Blues" script in yours...doesn't appear in the new logo.) Yes, it has the Arch as part of the design...but if Joe Blow was coming up with a new logo for a St. Louis sports team, I think even Joe would think of including the Arch. B) Everybody was doing darker-scheme uniforms back in '03. So the idea of going with a darker blue (navy) would also be something that Mr. Blow would consider immediately. Heck, ordinary fans were talking about doing that when some of the other third jerseys in the league started showing up on TV. And even if there were more similarity between the two designs...if you really wanted some credit for the idea you should have covered yourself legally. What do you really want now? Should the Blues have you drop a puck before a game, or wave to the crowd during a TV timeout, while they announce you as the inspiration behind the new jerseys? We all know that ain't gonna happen.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Manny's Legace?

-In my last post earlier this week I wondered about Manny Legace's future with the Blues. Not because I had any inside information that he was about to be waived...but because he had all the earmarks of a player who was headed for a trainwreck. So, I have to say that his being sent to Peoria to "work things out" didn't really shock me as much as some others. When you come out with a statement like "I was the worst player in the NHL tonight", you probably expect something not too great to happen yourself.

But beyond the headlines, I think this is the story of a guy who was headed for a difficult stretch in his life...i.e. older player facing possible retirement, the lack of interest in his services, diminishing abilites...all of the things that an older athlete has to deal with eventually. And I tend to believe, since he reportedly fired his agent after being waived, that the representative steered him down the wrong path in dealing with those issues. I'm guessing that the agent told him to be out front with his feelings about being underpaid (at least compared to Chris Mason) and to attempt to play on his status as a fan favorite to "up the ante" on Blues management. Well, that negotiating in public thing hardly ever works for any athlete. All it usually serves to do is make the player look like an overpaid, pampered prima dona or crybaby who doesn't appreciate his position as one of the few in the world to play sports and make money at it. And Manny was coming off that way big time lately.

While, again, I don't have have any facts to back it up, it appears by jettisoning his agent Legace was "clued in" by somebody during the day Friday that he needed to "take a 180" in his public relations efforts. After being waived he gave a number of interviews in which he expressed shock, anger at management, and that he felt like he was "dumped on". Later, after clearing waivers on Saturday..and even before that... he seemed to go in a totally different direction with comments like" I look forward to the challenge in Peoria"and "playing there will be fun..I look forward to helping out".

Perhaps one of Mr. Legace's fellow athletes got to him with a bit of advice to straighten up and fly right. If he's going to get another NHL contract, in St. Louis or elsewhere, he's going to need to not only play like an elite goalie, but back that up with his off-ice actions. His "legacy" depends on it. I wish him all the best.

By the way, this whole thing was done by the Blues front office at the risk of fan alienation of enormous proportions. But once again Davidson, Pleau and the gang have made the right call at the right time and given us even more confidence in the top decision-makers with The Note.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Take

Super Bowl
  • I was pulling for Kurt Warner more than the Cardinals. Its amazing to me that Kurt has played in three Super Bowls and in all three has managed to lead his offense to a late score to take the lead. In two of the three his defense has surrendered the victory to the opposition. In the third, Mike Jones made the tackle at the one yard line to save the championship. Kurt's big problem has been getting his team a touchdown with too much time left on the clock... and playing for teams with so-so defenses, or defensive coordinators.
  • In that vein...How much evidence do D-coordinators need to understand that the prevent defense is the obvious way to cough up a victory in the last 2 minutes of a game? It happens almost every time they try it. 10 yards here, 20 yards there and in a few seconds the opposition is in the red zone with a chance to win. One sack or bad throw based on a little pressure and you win the game. The Cardinals were dominating the game on defense until they tried "not to lose" in the last couple of minutes.
  • I'm not a big Springsteen guy, but I enjoyed his half-time show. At least the guy puts some thought and effort into it. Not like the 'Stones who seemed to stumble and mumble through their show a couple of years ago.
  • Did John Madden offer a cogent piece of analysis in the whole broadcast? Seemed to me he just stammered his way through the obvious.


  • There was a lot of talk about Kurt Warner qualifying for the Hall of Fame with a win in this game. Whoever doesn't believe he's already qualified for The Hall should look at some of the quarterbacks who are already there. Just leading the Rams (who were supposedly nothing after Trent Green got hurt) to the Super Bowl championship...and this year taking the usually pathetic Cardinals to the SB should be proof enough. But if that doesn't do it for you, how about having the three top passing yardage games in Super Bowl history? If Kurt wasn't such a nice guy nobody would question his credentials. Because he's always pleasant, and defers credit to a higher being, some believe he doesn't have the grit to be a great quarterback. If he had led one great team, or marquis franchise, in three consecutive seasons to a Super Bowl, instead of spreading them out with pedestrian under-achievers as he has, he'd get mis-directed credit for being part of a dynasty. But it has to be tougher to do what he's done than what Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach or Bart Starr did...doesn't it? I say it takes a greater quarterback to lead a so-so team to high achievement than a great team to accomplish what's expected.


  • In light of Manny Legace's "I was the worst player in the NHL" quote after being pulled in last night's shootout loss to Detroit, I'm wondering what his future in St. Louis holds. Here's a guy who is coming off an All-Star season and is playing for a new contract. With that credential and incentive he should be having the season of his life. Instead, he's been so-so at best most of the season. The fans love him...but John Davidson and Larry Pleau can't decide a roster based on who's a fan favorite. As the March 4th trade deadline approaches, it will be very interesting to see if Manny is trade bait, and if there are any interested teams in a goalie-rich NHL.
  • As the current season progresses, I'm getting increasingly excited about what next season may hold. Berglund and Oshie both look like "real deal" stars, if not superstars, in the making. David Perron is beginning to show signs of being a more rounded player besides just having amazing talent. David Backes is proving that matching Vancouver's offer sheet in the off-season was a very smart move. The young support staff of Crombeen, Winchester, Polak, Strachan, Janssen and others have given terrific cause for optimism too. If McDonald and Kariya are part of next year's mix and can stay healthy...throw in Erik Johnson, Alex Pietrangelo and two or three of the budding stars that haven't even played in the NHL yet...and you begin to see the makings of something great happening. That's not even counting Keith Tkachuk in the mix. And he's been awesome no matter what age. Exciting...very exciting.


  • As soon as he said it in the Matt Lauer Super Bowl pre-game interview, I knew people would think that President Obama was putting in a dig at Jessica Simpson's apparent weight problem. If you missed it, Lauer held up a copy of a magazine cover that showed the Obama family with the President being covered up by a pic of Simpson. Lauer was looking for a reaction to Mr. Obama being edited out. Instead he got a comment from The Prez...paraphasing here..."Yeah...and it looks like she's having a weight problem." was obvioius to me that he could have phrased it better and wasn't really taking a shot at Simpson. But, of course, the gossip mill press had to seize on it as a comment by The Chief on poor Jessica's poundage difficulties. Had he said..."I don't mind being upstaged by Jessica...even though the article seems to be negative toward her"...nothing more would have come of it. But even the most eloquent among us, if given enough face time, will put at least part of a foot in our mouth.