The Thermometer may still top the 90s outside, but the St Louis Blues are gearing up for the start of the hockey season. First up on the agenda is the announcement of the new captain and assistant captains for the team. As you all know, our captain since 2011, David Backes was not signed to a new contract in St Louis. He has moved to the Eastern Conference and will now be playing for Boston. This change means that the captain and assistant captains’ jerseys needed to be shuffled around a bit.
Alex Pietrangelo will be wearing the ‘C’ for St Louis this season. He will be the 21st captain in the history of the Blues. Pietrangelo joins such notable Blues captains as Al Arbour, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger to wear the ‘C’ for St Louis. These are some big shoes (or skates as the case may be) to fill.
Pietrangelo has spent his entire NHL career with the Blues. He has played 459 games and tallied 51 goals and 204 assists since his debut in 2008. (Blues.nhl/stats) He ranks as one of the highest NHL defensemen when it comes to time on ice. Last season alone he ranked 6th overall, averaging 26:18 minutes of ice-time per game. (nhl.com) All that time on the ice means that he is a very versatile player that can play in every situation. He is clearly trusted by the coaches.
“There’s a trust from the coaching staff that you can put him out against the best players in the world all the time and you’re still going to have an advantage,” Blues’ coach Ken Hitchcock said. “That’s a great feeling standing on the bench, knowing you have a guy that can go a little bit further than the person he’s playing against, no matter what that person’s skill level is.” (blues.nhl)
Of course Pietrangelo was chosen to be captain for more than just his ability to outlast players on the ice. GM Doug Armstrong had this to say, “As the captain, you have to answer questions, the tough questions when games are over. I really like his personality, his demeanor to his teammates, to the coaching staff and to the media. He’s someone that has the respect of everyone.” (blues.nhl)
So there you go, Alex Pietrangelo is the new captain of the St Louis Blues. Obviously he will not have to do it alone. There will be 4 assistant captains to have his back on the ice. The Blues named Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, Vladimir Tarasenko and Kevin Shattenkirk to the roles of assistant captains. Pietrangelo will wear the ‘C’, but these 4 will get the ‘A’ on their jersey. They will be there to bring the team together and to help out when they can.
Armstrong said, “What you’re looking for in assistant captains is a lot of the same characteristics we look for in a captain.” In short, these guys are expected to be leaders. They were chosen because of their ability to unite this team. “You only give a ‘C’ or ‘A’ to players if you think they can handle it,” Armstrong said. “Just because you’re a good player doesn’t make you a good leader. For some people, it’s a burden to wear a letter. We think these guys are the leaders of the team. They want to pull everyone together and that’s going to be their responsibility.” (Blues.nhl/captains)
Alexander Steen has been an assistant captain for the past few years. He is a great two-way player, maybe the best the Blues have. Steen and Pietrangelo work really well as a unit because they were both assistant captains together. He is a strong, steady player, and a real presence on the ice; it should come as no surprise to anyone that Steen holds onto an assistant captain title.
Paul Stastny is someone who has finally come into his own in St Louis. Last season was the first full season Stastny played in St Louis after joining the Blues in a trade from the Avalanche. With 26 goals and 69 assists in the regular season (4G, 10A in playoffs) since joining the Blues, Stastny seems well on his way to being one of the team’s most valuable players.
Vladimir Tarasenko already is one of the team’s most valuable players. He is the player that fans come to see. Now Tarasenko is showing that he wants to do more for his team. At the end of last season and while players were going down to injuries, Tarasenko was one of the ones who stepped up and took an ‘A’ for his jersey. He showed that he was ready for the responsibility and that he wanted to be a leader. Now he will get that opportunity for the entire season.
Kevin Shattenkirk has been a solid player for the Blues. He joined the organization after a trade with the Avalanche in the 2010-11 season, and he hasn’t looked back. He has recorded 48 goals and 168 assists for the Blues in the regular season (4G, 24A in playoffs). Everyone knows how important he is to special teams (remember when he got hurt last season), but he is also a vital player off the ice. Armstrong said, “He’s got great communication skills with his teammates, great communication skills with the coaching staff. He’s a guy we really rely on.” (Blues.nhl/captains)
It sounds as if the Blues new captain, Pietrangelo, will have a lot of great support behind him on and off the ice. Good luck guys, and congratulations!
Let’s Go Blues!
Feature Image Courtesy Of Dinur / Flickr