Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Adjusting Mentally to Life without Housley

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Adjusting Mentally to Life without Housley

Article excerpt

For the last few weeks, the slumping Blues spoke hopefully about Phil Housley's return.

When the gifted defenseman came back, they said time and again, many of their troubles would end. A spark would return to the offense, and opponents no longer would pin them in their own zone for minutes at a time.

But Phil Housley is not coming back any time soon. Blues players learned Thursday night that Housley would undergo back surgery Jan. 4 and probably would miss the remainder of the regular season.

"It hurts bad," defenseman Jeff Brown said. "That was a big trade for us. We gave up two quality guys (Nelson Emerson and Stephane Quintal) to get him. We expected a lot out of Phil. He was a big part of this hockey team.

"When somebody like that goes down, it gives a lot of other guys an opportunity to step up and play. But there is no way we can replace him. That's a lot of offense that's missing. Not only myself, but everybody else is going to have to step it up a notch."

Housley scored seven goals in 13 games, and he was coming off a 97-point season. He quarterbacked the power play from the right point and provided the Blues' transition game much help at even strength.

"Playing with him on the power play, it gave me that much more room back there," said Brown, who plays the left point with the man advantage. "They had to respect him. There is just that much more pressure on all of us right now."

Housley had offensive skills no other Blue offered, which is why the club made the blockbuster deal to get him.

"With his speed and puckhandling ability, he had that ability to make the outlet pass and bring the puck out himself under pressure," coach Bob Berry said. "We certainly miss that."

With Housley gone, young defenseman Bret Hedican becomes the team's top puck rusher. Journeyman Doug Crossman and/or rookie Daniel Laperriere will have to fill his skates on the power play. …

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