So far so good with Payne, vets; Tkachuk,
Conklin not on trip, Kariya goes
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Since the Blues brought in 39-year-old Davis Payne to take the Blues in a new direction after firing Andy Murray, there has been some question as to how can someone deal with the veterans on this team with a coach that's parallel to their age.
Simple, according to Davis: communication, which was sometimes misconstrued -- according to some of those same vets -- under Murray.
"Obviously we're going to have to find common ground first and foremost," Payne said. "They're going to have to understand that my intention is to have them be a part of the group, and the group needs to be better as a whole. They're obviously key parts to the picture. Your veteran guys are the guys who have been there, done that and carried teams through tough times. They know what it takes. They're going to carry a lot of that early message, and part of that message is having them understand the passion that we expect them to show. Them being where they are is for a reason.
"In order to get them to play better, I think, is like any athlete in a situation where success is bound to happen, and that's a right frame of mind and the right intensity with their body. Success happens for all of those reasons ... I think these guys will understand my expectation is for them to be better for each other. Along with that will come improved production and individual success."
Payne will listen, but he will also teach and instruct, no matter who you are. And some of the veterans are already seeing that message being relayed.
"It's kind of a fresh start," forward Andy McDonald said. "I don't know how much I agree with that, but guys have to use change as a positive thing and get going. I just think guys are upbeat and energized knowing that we can turn this thing around. Not to say that what was going on before was guys weren't energized and frustrated, but they're kind of viewing this change as a fresh start. We have to do it, and guys have to realize we share a big part of responsibility what's gone on this year and we have to be held accountable."
McDonald, who leads the Blues in goals (13) and is second in the team in points (26), likes what he and the rest of the vets are hearing so far.
"It's a really positive sign," he said. "If you look at the experience in this locker room with (Darryl) Sydor, (Keith) Tkachuk, (Paul) Kariya, (Eric) Brewer, (Barret) Jackman, there's a lot of guys and a lot of experience and certainly a bumper of different perspectives, especially when you come into a new situation for him. By kind of tapping those areas, you get a pretty good feel of what's gone on and what we need to improve on going forward."
* Tkachuk not on trip, Kariya is -- Blues forwards Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya will not play in the upcoming three-game trip to California, which begins with a game at San Jose tonight.
Tkachuk, who lost a number of teeth and took a deep gash on his upper lip following a shot from T.J. Oshie late in Saturday's 6-3 loss to Chicago, did not accompany the team plane to San Jose and is not expected to play until at least next week.
"There's a comfort factor with the injury," Payne said. "There's lots of swelling, lots of pain. As much as he'd like to be out there, we don't anticipate him on the trip."
Kariya, out since Dec. 27 when he took an elbow to the head in a 5-3 loss to Buffalo, has taken positive steps in what seem to be concussion-like symptoms.
Payne said it's too soon to determine a return for Kariya, who likely won't play on the trip either but did accompany the team out west and will skate. He skated on his own before practice Tuesday at the Mills.
"First step, positive results," Payne said. "Now there are lots of steps to go. He was on the ice (Tuesday) morning with the trainers. That step seemed to have gone well. Now we're going to look to see how the flight translates to his situation and assess that as far as getting back on the ice (this) morning. One step at a time but obviously positive today."
* Bishop, Stastny recalled; Conklin stays back -- The Blues on Tuesday recalled goalie Ben Bishop and forward Yan Stastny from Peoria of the American Hockey League.
Stastny, who played in three games with the Blues earlier this season, had to clear re-entry waivers before joining the Blues on Tuesday.
Bishop, a St. Louis native out of Chaminade High School, was recalled because goalie Ty Conklin did not accompany the team to San Jose so he can deal with an injury suffered by his son.
Conklin could join the Blues on this trip at some point.
"I feel good. It's been good in Peoria the past month," said Bishop, who was 12-6-2 with a 2.60 goals-against average in 20 games with the Rivermen. "It's nice to be back up here. Hopefully if I get the opportunity, I can capitalize on it."