By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Alex Steen has been with the Blues for nearly three full seasons now. He came back from a high ankle sprain to net his 20th goal of the season in the final regular season game. See what he had to say about the season and why the Blues will be a force in the very near future:
What does it mean to you to be a part of this franchise?
I'm really proud to be a part of the organization. The guys that we have here, everybody loves to play hard for each other and that's a very important ingredient on a team. We have that here. I think next year's going to be a great year for us.
How optimistic are you about what can happen here in the future?
We definitely have reason to be optimistic about the coming seasons, not just next year. The biggest ingredient is that will to play for each other and we have that here. The guys are just so tight-knit. We go to battle every night with each other. We have a lot of talent. This year, we weren't pretty healthy. I don't know what the final total was in man-games missed but it was 300-something. That's tough. Teams go through that during the course of a year, but we just couldn't find a way to get ourselves through that.
Were the injuries the biggest reason you weren't able to get in this year?
I'm not saying that as an excuse that we had injury trouble. I'm stating that that's something we need to make sure for next year that we're able to get through it. Detroit goes through it, Chicago goes through it, pretty much every team goes through these tough breaks. You need to be really stronger in those times.
Besides injuries, what really kept the team from moving up in the standings?
There was a point in the season where we won five, lost five, won five, lost six, won seven, lost four. The win streak is the good part about it. When we lose, we need to be better at regrouping, cutting that off, stopping the bleeding and going to the next game and winning. We shouldn't have to go through a streak of losses to turn it around again. It has to stop right away and get back on the winning ways.
Was it a case of learn from it and move on?
I think that's definitely the case. I think we have a great team here. There's big optimism here for the future of this club. It's not just a year or two down the line. We could be a great team for a number of years. There's certain things that went on this season that we didn't get through. It's a learning experience.
What motivates you this summer to come into next season ready to go?
We need to remember how lousy this feeling is and play to make sure we're not feeling this way, especially this early in the year. ... These are long summers, and you get sick of not playing, especially in the spring time. The weather starts heating up, teams go to the playoffs and you're going to watch it on the sidelines. This is the tough part of the year.
How do you best describe this team and the group that finished the year?
This is a very structured, hard-working team in my opinion. Moving forward, we need to continue to do that. During the off-season, I'm sure there's going to be some changes here and there, but we'll have to wait and see.
As far as your personal stats, is there another level there for you?
I want to get better. I think there's another couple levels for myself. I just want to continue to grow as a player and be looked upon to do more and to feel that reliability. ... I don't normally set any statistic goals for myself. It's more development goals, what I want to achieve. I don't feel I met up to everything this year, but I'm going to make sure I get even better for the next year.