St. Louis Blues
Team Page | Schedule | Roster | 1998-99 Stats
Sports Illustrated Ranking: 6
By Brian Cazeneuve
Blues captain Chris Pronger was in midseason form during one of
the team's voluntary scrimmages in late August. After 90 minutes
of exhausting four-on-four hockey with only eight players per
team, Pronger was campaigning to prolong the game. "We had the
ice for a while longer," says Pronger. "We're paying for it, we
might as well use it."
| 1998-99 Leaders |
Ice time (F)
Ice time (D)
The sentiment was nothing new for a man who logged more ice time
per game (30:37) than any other player in the league last season.
And when Pronger wasn't on the ice, it seemed that Norris Trophy
winner Al MacInnis was. At 35, MacInnis had the finest season of
his outstanding 16-year career. He led NHL defensemen in scoring
with 62 points, averaged more than 29 minutes per game (fourth in
the league) and was +33 on a team whose next-highest mark in that
category was center Craig Conroy's +14. The problem for the Blues
was finding four other defensemen they wanted to put on the ice.
In training camp the Blues were getting ready for the
regular-season wars. During intrasquad games MacInnis and
Pronger exchanged slashes -- MacInnis called them "love taps" -- and
Pronger fought rookie forward Brandon Sugden and had a nasty
mid-ice collision with defenseman Jamie Rivers, who was
subsequently lost in the waiver draft. That ill-tempered defense
will help goalie Roman Turek, who had sparkling numbers (16-3-3,
2.08 goals-against average) as Ed Belfour's backup in Dallas
last season. Turek, 29, will get his first crack at being a No.
1 goalie now that Grant Fuhr has been shipped to Calgary.
Netminding was a problem for the Blues in 1998-99: St. Louis
allowed the fewest shots of any team in the league, but its
goals-against average ranked only 14th.
The scoring load will fall to 24-year-old forward Pavol Demitra,
who broke out last season and led the team with 37 goals and 89
points. His 10 game-winning goals were one behind league-leader
Brett Hull of the Stars. Crafty center Pierre Turgeon had a
strong postseason (13 points in 13 games) and a solid training
camp. The rookie to watch is 22-year-old forward Jochen Hecht, a
German who had two goals in five playoff games after a
late-season call-up. He has outstanding size (6'3", 200 pounds)
and skill and is versatile enough to play any position up front.
The Blues are a team with a scrappy attitude, a handful of
stars -- count 41-year-old coach Joel Quenneville among them -- and a
future among the Western Conference's elite teams.
Issue date: October 4, 1999
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Chris Pronger is poised to become THE defenseman in the NHL, if he's not already.
Everybody wondered who would step up to replace Brett Hull's goals and, poof, here comes Pavol Demitra with 37.
LW Jochen Hecht is turning heads and should make the team.
Geoff Courtnall missed 58 games with a concussion, but has looked good as new in camp. Still, those head injuries are tricky.|
Everybody likes Roman Turek's potential.
Jury still out on young guns like Michal Handzus, Jamal Mayers, Tyson Nash and Lubos Bartecko.
People, Places and Things
GM: Larry Pleau
Coach: Joel Quenneville; 3rd season (100-76-28); 3rd overall
Assistants: Mike Kitchen, Jim Roberts
Captain: Chris Pronger
Last year: 37-32-13 (12th overall)
Playoffs: Def. Phoenix 4-3; lost to Dallas 4-2
PP: 3rd (20.3%)
PK: 2nd (87.9%)
Get The Highlighter
Sat., Oct. 2: Home opener vs. Phoenix, which, no doubt, is still fuming after last year's playoff collapse.
Tue., Nov. 9: Brett Hull brings his championship ring to Kiel Arena . . . something he never did as a Blue.
.888: The league's worst save percentage put forth by Grant Fuhr, Jamie McLennan, Jim Carey, Brent Johnson and Rich Parent, which may explain why the Blues hovered around .500 despite allowing the fewest shots in the league.
"I'm not the most knowledgeable person in the world about hockey." -- New owner Bill Laurie