Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Sinking' Blues Players Question Owners' Commitment to Winning Stanley Cup

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Sinking' Blues Players Question Owners' Commitment to Winning Stanley Cup

Article excerpt

Even a few days of fun in the sun at Newport Beach couldn't dissipate the dark clouds hovering over the Blues.

The mood is grim going into their game tonight against the winless San Jose Sharks.

The Blues have lost back-to-back games, most recently 3-0 to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Wednesday. Defrocked captain Brett Hull, the team's only goal-scoring threat, is out for at least a week with a pulled groin muscle. He has returned to St. Louis for further evaluation.

There's the specter of more player moves. GM-coach Mike Keenan still has to dump salaries to reach the Kiel Center Partners' mandate of a $20.5 million payroll. Players took the salary dump of Esa Tikkanen, traded to New Jersey for a No. 3 draft pick to save $800,000, as a sign that the Blues' owners aren't committed to winning the Stanley Cup. "We're going backward," one player said.

So, against that backdrop, it's little wonder that Hull characterizes the Blues thusly: "We aren't even close to treading water; we're sinking fast. We better do something fast to turn it around."

Enter Keenan, the man trying to keep the Blues' heads above water while fans are calling for his head and the owners are breathing down his neck to cut costs.

"I'm not frustrated at all," he said. "I've gone through a lot more difficult situations than this."

Such as the death of star goalie Pelle Lindbergh in a car accident in Keenan's second season as the Philadelphia Flyers' coach.

"Imagine coming to work one day and your goaltender's been killed," he said. "Our team was operating on all cylinders. We were going for a record for wins. We still got 110 points, but we never recovered from that. This doesn't even compare."

Keenan has endured plenty of other adversity:

The 1984-85 Philadelphia Flyers, his first season as a head coach: "We had three Hall-of-Famers leave - Bob Clarke, Bill Barber and Darryl Sittler. …

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