Friday, March 11, 2011


Steen, Jackman sidelined 4-6 weeks each; Perron status unchanged

ST. LOUIS -- Down they go.

Instead of every game counts, maybe the Blues should have used the aforementioned three words for their slogan of 2010-11.

The Blues announced prior to Thursday night's 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens that winger Alex Steen and defenseman Barret Jackman would miss approximately 4-6 weeks with injuries.

Steen suffered a high ankle sprain on his right leg and Jackman suffered a broken right index finger. Both injuries occurred Wednesday in Columbus.

Steen and Jackman join a rash of injuries the team has suffered throughout the season. Jackman had previously missed 13 games because of two separate injuries. They join Andy McDonald, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, Vladimir Sobotka, Carlo Colaiacovo and Roman Polak as players who missed significant time at some point this season.

So for the Blues, it was back to reinforcements -- reinforcements from their American Hockey League affiliate in Peoria.

"We've seemed to have our fair share and a lot of teams are dealing with injuries," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "Ours seem to be for extended periods of time, which is abnormal in the NHL to have the Perron situation, Oshie, and McDonald situation all at the same time when they're missing 20-plus games as a unit. That's a lot. And obviously with these injuries we've had now, these guys are (going) to miss a lot of games now for the next 4-6 weeks, which could be the rest of the season. It's difficult, but it is what it is."

Steen is second on the Blues in scoring with 48 points. Thursday was his first game missed this season. Jackman missed three games recently and missed nine more earlier in the season with a sprained knee.

Unofficially, the Blues have lost 257 man games due to injury.

* No change in Perron status -- David Perron, out with a concussion since his last game on Nov. 4, has not seen his status changed with the season winding down.

Armstrong was asked if the Blues are finally coming to the conclusion that Perron's season is over and it's better to shut him down and have him looking long-term.

"Not to be evasive. I haven't come to that conclusion," Armstrong said. "There's been no change. Obviously we're getting closer and closer to a time when we just don't have any more games.

"There's two trains of thought. One, just shut him down and let him wait until next season, but if he gets ready and there's a week left in the season, mentally, does he want to play so he doesn't have to go all summer, then he's got to go five months wondering and wondering and wondering. If he gets in 4-5 games, then he can go into the summer knowing that, 'OK, I'm back,' and he can train normally. But he's not to that point yet. That's why I think we're hesitant in saying he's not going to play again because if the headaches go away, he trains and there's three or four games left, and he says mentally, I need to play to prove to myself and make a (statement), then we have to listen to that."

Perron, who has seen slight improvements in recent time by being able to do some light bike riding along with very light and limited weight lifting, was recently in Vancouver seeing the same specialist that Andy McDonald saw to help alleviate his concussion. Armstrong said the visits didn't do anything for Perron and that the Sherbrooke, Quebec native hasn't improved nor gotten worse.

"... Probably after the first couple of weeks, he's been in a steady pattern from my understanding," Armstrong said of Perron. "He doesn't have the raging headaches where he can't go outside or the sun bothers him or anything like that. There are smaller, little things that come up over time. I don't think there's been any regression, but there's been no progression either.

"When David progresses to a point where I need to know something, meaning he did the bike yesterday and today feels pretty good ... I don't want David to have to deal with it or ownership to have to deal with these emotional swings. When he does take that next step, we hope it's really soon."

* Head injury debate -- The Blues have lost three players (Perron, McDonald, Colaiacovo) this season with concussion-related injuries. other NHL teams have seen a rise in some form of head injuries, namely concussions.

And with the recent traumatic injury suffered by Montreal's Max Pacioretty following a hit by Boston's Zdeno Chara, it certainly begs the question with the NHL general manager's meetings right around the corner: will head injuries be a topic of discussion and should they be discussed?

"It's certainly going to be brought up and it will be discussed," Armstrong said. "I don't think it's an issue that's going to go away. I don't think this is just an injury we're having now that is just going to go away. It's something that we're going to have to discuss and find out how we can protect the players.

"But as much as people are looking for the league to take a stance, I believe the players also have to take a stance. For every Montreal player that's injured, there's a Boston player that caused the injury. In that situation (Tuesday) night, I'm not saying it should have been a penalty or not, but the players are going to have to decide what they want as part of the game also. It's unfair just to think that the owners and the managers are going to be the ones to decide. If the players don't want to buy into whatever rules are there, then it's not going to matter. The unity that came out of the last collective bargaining agreement is going to be tested now because we're going to need everyone involved now in the game, owners, team presidents, general managers and players and as important or more importantly, coaches are going to have to have a say in this because in today's game because if you watch, if a player doesn't finish a hit, he hears about it immediately on the bench. The back pressure in today's game is so true that everyone has to back-pressure. Players are bigger, rink sizes are the same and the physical content of the game has never been higher."

The GM meetings begin Monday and run through Wednesday and you can bet that head shots will dominate the discussion.

"It's going to be a very interesting topic," Armstrong said. "I think if there was a right answer, it would already be out there. If there's a quick answer, I don't know if there's a quick solution to it, but it's certainly something that we have to look at."

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