Work in Sports
CENTRAL DIVISION |
1 St. Louis Blues
Team Page | 2000-2001 Schedule Roster
Sports Illustrated Ranking: 3
By Kostya Kennedy
Ever wonder what the NHL's quaintly named year-end trophies look like? Call the Blues, they'll know. Last year St. Louis earned the Presidents' Trophy for having the league's best record (51-20-11-1) and won the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals (165). Defenseman Chris Pronger took both the Hart (MVP) and Norris (best defenseman) Trophies. Right wing Pavol Demitra got the Lady Byng Trophy for being the NHL's most sportsmanlike player and Joel Quenneville won the Jack Adams Award as the Coach of the Year. Yet when looking back on the season of shining accomplishment, center Michal Handzus, who was a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward, says, "The playoffs were very bad. I want to forget."
Never mind the baubles; the lingering memory in St. Louis is of the eighth-seeded Sharks manhandling the No. 1 Blues in a seven-game first-round upset. That devastating loss may be just what St. Louis needed: Several recent Stanley Cup winners had endured a playoff humiliation in the year before their championships. A little misery, it seems, can give a team a mission. "There's a bitter taste in our mouths," says Quenneville. "Winning one round is not going to satisfy me. Neither is winning two rounds. We want to win the Stanley Cup."
The Blues certainly have a shot, especially after the off-season acquisitions of hard-nosed right wing Dallas Drake and well-rounded defenseman Sean Hill. With Pronger and Al MacInnis returning as the best blue line combination in the league and with game-breakers Demitra (75 points in 71 games) and center Pierre Turgeon (66 points in 52 matches) leading a deep group of two-way forwards, the Blues find themselves with only the most superfluous of needs: They could use a sixth defenseman and a proven backup to workhorse goalie Roman Turek, who was 42-15-9 with a 1.95 goals-against average in his first season as a starter.
Turek, more than anyone, must evolve from last April's playoff implosion. The 30-year-old former Stars backup was among the NHL's best regular-season goalies (you guessed it -- he was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy), but he suddenly couldn't stop the soft ones against the Sharks. A better postseason performance this season wouldn't impact Turek's chances for the Vezina, but it would go a long way toward garnering the one trophy the Blues are really after.
Issue date: October 16, 2000
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