Armstrong, Hitchcock Take Home Major Awards
You can argue the best thing John Davidson has done since joining the Blues is hiring Doug Armstrong. It wasn’t as if Armstrong was an unknown commodity at the time. He had options and interviewed with numerous clubs including the Toronto Maple Leafs after being fired by the Dallas Stars.
Bringing Armstrong on board has reshaped the identity of this franchise. The moves he’s made since taking over for Larry Pleau have been bold yet well calculated. At the end of the day they’ve worked and it’s helped the franchise grow into what it is today.
The St. Louis Blues are in good hands with Armstrong at the top. With fresh Ownership taking over fans are optimistic the club is building towards contending for a Stanley Cup. Players like Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, and Ty Rattie are still headed down the pipe.
Armstrong has some heavy lifting to accomplish over the next few years as the challenge of keeping the current core intact will be easier said than done. He’s in the process of extending T.J. Oshie and David Perron but next summer is when the challenge becomes even stiffer. Centerpiece players Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Patrik Berglund will all be looking for extensions and significant raises. Just look at the contracts of Drew Doughty, Tyler Myers, and Erik Karlsson to see what it’ll take to lock up Pietrangelo. This shouldn’t alarm anyone as Armstrong is well aware of what lies ahead. One of his biggest strengths as a manager is thinking forward and it’s safe to assume he’s already budgeted for a Pietrangelo extension.
Armstrong is a smart hockey man with a reputation as one of the harder working guys out there. You might not find a manager who’s seen more games and players over the last four or five years. He’s also open to thinking outside the box and won’t shy away from using modern analytics to get a clear evaluation on today’s player.
There aren't many GM’s who would embrace the situation in St. Louis as well as he has. Would he enjoy the challenge of managing a cap team? I’m sure he would but his job is to do the best under the circumstances. The entire Blues organization has been rewarded with the job he’s done and it’s nice to see him be recognized as well.
Hiring Ken Hitchcock has proven to be one of the best decisions Armstrong has made with the Blues. It’s probably what led to him being named Executive of the Year.
Hitchcock is certainly deserving of the Jack Adams award. It’s probably long overdue when you consider his track record as an NHL Head Coach. At the very least it adds to an already impressive resume that includes Olympic and World Championship gold medals, tremendous junior success, as well as a Stanley Cup in Dallas.
Wednesday in Las Vegas was a great day for Tom stillman and the entire organization as they celebrate one of their best seasons in franchise history. Now the pressure is on to build of their success and take this thing to the next level.
David Backes finished second in Selke voting behind Boston’s Patrice Bergeron.
Alex Steen received some votes for the Selke as well and probably finishes among the top three if he doesn’t suffer a mid-season concussion.
Goaltender Brian Elliott finished fifth in Vezina trophy voting behind Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka rinne, Jonathan Quick, and Mike smith. Jaroslav Halak finished sixth.
Both Elliott and Backes actually received votes for the Hart trophy which is awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player.
The Blues will be active in the trade market as they look to improve their roster. Doug Armstrong will be eyeing both a third line center as well as a top 4 D-man to play the left side.
More to come,