Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook: Gunnarsson Happy to Be Back with Blues

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook: Gunnarsson Happy to Be Back with Blues

Article excerpt

For much of last season, defenseman Carl Gunnarsson might have been the least likely Blue to return for this season. He was a 32-year-old defenseman who was going to be an unrestricted free agent, who played in only 25 games because of a series of wrist injuries and played for a team already deep in defensemen, with some promising youngsters coming up.

"If we look back like six months, I was not in a good spot to sign a new deal and things happened at the end of the season and in the playoffs and that kind of changed the whole mindset of it, Gunnarsson said Saturday. "I didn't expect anything, I was hoping to come back and here we are, two more years, and super excited about it."

What worked is that when Gunnarsson was healthy, he made a good pairing with Alex Pietrangelo -- one defenseman who gets into the offense, another that stays at home. He also had one of the big goals of the Stanley Cup Final for the Blues, his overtime tally in Game 2 that evened the series that the Blues won in seven games.

Gunnarsson and the Blues didn't talk about a new contract until the end of the season, and on June 27 -- just before the free-agency period was about to begin, he signed a two-year deal, at a salary of $1.75 million per year, down from the $2.9 million he made in his previous three-year contract.

The situation in St. Louis was an incentive to come back.

"We won, we've still got a great team, almost everyone's back, so that's No. 1, "Everything," he said on the second day of Blues training camp at Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights. "No. 2, I love it in the city. My family likes it here. I don't know. In my head, that was the No. 1 option. First you go and explore that and if it doesn't work out, you move on. I'm just happy it worked out."

NEW LOOK

The Blues, like the rest of the NHL, didn't have a third jersey last season after the league changed uniform providers. The team unveiled this year's version on Saturday, a throwback to the ones worn on the road in the 1994-95 and 1997-98 seasons, with a large diagonal red band at the bottom of the jersey and patches with trumpets on each shoulder. …

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