Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Take a Note: Blues Will Vie for Cup in '96

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Take a Note: Blues Will Vie for Cup in '96

Article excerpt

One of our regular got-no-life callers recently checked in with his Blues post-mortem.

"I'm all right," the caller said. "I'm used to it by now. Do you think the Blues will sign Joel Otto?"

It's time to quit pointing fingers and start looking ahead to a bright Blues future. Unless Mike Keenan flips out and guts the roster, the Note will take a serious run at the next Stanley Cup. Promise.

Coach Keenan talks about needing more depth, but that's folly. How many teams have three productive offensive defensemen like Al MacInnis, Steve Duchesne and Jeff Norton? Or two 50-goal scorers like Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan? The supporting cast was fine, too, especially since rugged rookies Ian Laperriere, Denis Chasse and Patrice Tardif emerged.

Depth wasn't an issue this season. The mix of talent was.

After the unfortunate Craig Janney fire sale, the Blues lacked a playmaker for their power play. Esa Tikkanen was a poor substitute along the right half-boards; he lacked the vision and intuition needed to create plays. David Roberts and Todd Elik accomplished more in that role.

Center remains a top Blues need, and free-agent Dale Hawerchuk would fill the playmaking need perfectly. If Coach can't make a favorable deal, I'd like to see Tikkanen-Roberts-Hull and Shanahan-Laperriere-Chasse as the top lines.

Coach got shocking production from Adam Creighton, but the big fella was hardly a catalyst. He had a numbing effect on linemates, particularly Shanahan and Hull. They sense opportunities and jump into holes . . . but the moment usually passes before Creighton does.

There were problems on defense as well. Coach did wonders with the pairings he had, but putting finesse defensemen like Duchesne and Norton together was unnatural. The only "physical" defenseman the Blues had was Murray Baron, who certainly tried. Coach needs to move one of his offensive defensemen and add two blue-line bangers.

Goaltender Curtis Joseph has been one of the NHL's few consistent goaltenders over the last four years. But he couldn't singlehandedly beat the Dallas Stars last season and imploded this spring.

Will Coach want Cujo back after that failure? …

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