ST. LOUIS – First off, I like the people in St. Louis. The Lou. Quick story from today: So, I’m getting on the MetroLink back to the airport stop, where I’ll then take the free shuttle to the cheap airport hotel I’m staying. An older guy and his wife tell me which side of the tracks to get on the MetroLink, which I was genuinely confused by. He also gives me the second half of two one-way tickets I bought, which I left in the bin below.
I say thanks and ask what’s in his bag. He says it’s a signed mystery puck from a Blues thing they did at the arena, but he doesn’t know who signed it when he opens it. I tell him it was signed by Marco Scandella. He says thanks and asks where I’m from. I say I’m a guy who has covered the Avalanche for the last 26 years, starting in 1995 with one of my first trips to this very city.
He gets the most sour look on his face you’ve ever seen. As did his wife. They still wished me well in my travels.
As I said, I like the people of St. Louis. Tough, grinding Midwestern people. I identify. My Lyft driver from the airport gave me some great barbecue suggestions for tomorrow – so, hello Pappy’s. (By the way, this is the first time I’d admitting this but: I did some Lyft driving in my time in the wilderness the last several years. As I type this, I have 1,899 rides to my credit and a perfect 5.0 rating. I don’t think I’ve driven in more than 18 months, but I believe my driver status is still active on the platform. Hey, I made some good hockey conversations with a lot of passengers, with most of them never knowing who I was).
That’s why it’s been so anti-St. Louis, anti-Missourian work ethic to hear Blues coach Craig Berube whine so much in this lopsided series, especially after tonight’s 5-1 thrashing in which the Avalanche won handily despite getting nothing from the top line and nothing from the power play.
Hear Berube here and ask if he wants any wine with that cheese:
Berube on officiating: "The refereeing, every game, we get one or two calls. It's usually late in the third period. They're getting four, five a game. I mean, it's not that lopsided. I'm not sure why we don't get the calls that we deserve. Parayko gets tripped in the corner (1/2)
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) May 22, 2021
Berube cont'd: "They go down and score a goal. He gets tripped in the corner, slew-footed and they don't it and it cost us a goal. It's terrible. It's so one-sided, it's not even funny." #stlblues
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) May 22, 2021
Seriously? OK, I get it. The Blues had a reason to be hopping mad at the world after Game 2. Veteran defenseman Justin Faulk was injured by a bad, bad hit by Nazem Kadri, and they lost the game to boot. I would have been screaming bloody murder too. But Kadri was suspended EIGHT GAMES by the NHL Department of Player Safety tonight. That should address Berube’s and GM Doug Armstrong’s “concern” about how, gee, players sometimes get hurt in this game played by men on skates going 20-30 MPH and, gee, sometimes they hit each other and, gee, sometimes injuries happen as a result.
(Armstrong’s crocodile tears moment to one of his Canadian reporter buddies today was a pathetic display of hypocrisy. That actual headline on this sad piece says “no repercussions” for what happened to one of his players. Hello, Kadri got EIGHT GAMES as a repercussion!)
I watched the game intently tonight from my perch at Enterprise Center, and I saw nothing to back up Berube’s claims of lopsided officiating. In fact, I saw lots of Blues players – such as aging center Brayden Schenn – trying haphazard, ham-handed old-school tactics such as grabbing Cale Makar by the jersey at the end of the first period and trying to goad him into something. Instead, Schenn just played the fool by skating away, much like he did when he got his ass handed to him in a fight with the captain of the Avs in Game 1.
I saw Blues dingbat forward Sammy Blais (who got suspended two games this season for an elbow to the head of Devon Toews, which – oh, think of the children! – must not happen, ever, according to the very concerned Doug Armstrong) run around and hit Sam Girard in the back with a cross-check. I saw Colton Parayko mostly just cross-check a few guys tonight, and not much else.
In short, I saw a St. Louis Blues team that can’t compete against the Colorado Avalanche right now, but wants to blame it all on the refs. I suspect the Blues might have a little bit of class when this series is over, in the next day or two, but I wonder? With Berube and Armstrong in charge of this club, we might be in for a little more whining yet.
- Jared Bednar said he was “surprised” by the eight-game suspension to Kadri, but I really wasn’t. I don’t blame Bednar, though, for being confused by the NHL’s “repeat offender” policy, which is straight out of Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22”. Essentially, the league’s position on this is: “We’re going to publicly say your past recent history (18 months) has no bearing on this situation, but in reality it does.”
- “He’s not a repeat offender, by the league’s definition,” Bednar said.
- All that said: I think what Kadri got is about right. Whether he meant to do it or not, which Kadri said he didn’t mean to, it happened. Just make the policy clear now, NHL; we all know Kadri had a previous rap sheet and this was another bad incident. Just say it, and be done with it. You invited second-guessing from Bednar on your confusing fine-print here.
- For those who don’t like the fact that guys sometimes hit each other in the game of hockey and don’t like that occasionally guys get hurt as a result? Just stop watching and commenting on hockey, would you please? Go watch the NBA and LeBron James fake getting hit and flopping on the floor like a breathless flounder out of water. Bye BYE.
- Speaking of confused by the fine print: why do we all have to wear masks inside an arena, like tonight, yet the CDC says we don’t need to wear masks anymore if we’re vaccinated? Honestly, we couldn’t even drink water in the press box tonight, because of virus concerns. I’m not even trying to be political here. But what the hell is the official policy for this thing? Is the Center for Disease Control in charge here, in saying we don’t need to wear a mask, or is it some podunk city commissioner in a city like St. Louis? Pardon me for being confused.
- Frankly, I think the policy that coaches still need to wear a mask on the bench, but NONE of the players need to, is just pure idiocy at this point. So, the coaches are more likely to transmit the virus than a player sitting eight inches in front of them?
- This is just getting stupid.
- See you Sunday.