Who are the 2016-17 St. Louis Blues?
Coming off of a trip to the Western Final for the first time in 15 years, you’d think the Blues would have a pretty clear identity the following season. The successes from 2015-16 could have been built on for 2016-17. Instead, the current roster has transformed from a physical team to a team that isn’t exactly physical, isn’t exactly fast and has to rely on a relentless pursuit and effort to avoid a lopsided result. If the Blues’ current style looks or sounds familiar, it’s because fans have become all too familiar with the lack of identity.
Instead of building off of what worked, the Blues looked to the future and instead tried to position themselves to have long-term success. They let important assets leave (David Backes, Troy Brouwer) and altered the team’s entire identity. Normally that’s a fine position to take in business, but considering the Blues are still without their first Cup, jeopardizing some long-term success for a Cup win sounds like a mistake. There aren’t any guarantees the Blues will have future success. To ignore, or move away from a current opportunity is almost painful to witness.
The Blues were two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final and six wins away from the ultimate goal. Six freaking wins. Considering how close they came, it was almost shocking to watch the team abandon their strategies from 2015-16 in favor of a completely new, still-yet-to-be determined identity this season.
The clock is already ticking on the Blues’ best skaters. There’s still time to get the most out of Vladimir Tarasenko and others, but the Blues’ approach of abandoning one pretty successful formula in favor of a completely new one (if you can even call it that) seems questionable and should place a fire under the team’s management.
The 2016-17 roster doesn’t really have an identity. That will change, but it remains to be seen if it’s a positive one.