Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Blues thinking big down middle; Petro's partner could be familiar face

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Imagine being the Blues' opponent and trying to dissect a strategy of containing certain elements to their game.

Look no further than their centers.

When the Blues line up in October, they'll do so up front -- specifically down the middle -- with the intent of imposing their will with size and strength.

Picture 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, then 6-4 and 220, followed by 6-5 and 220.

Welcome to David Backes, Patrik Berglund and Jason Arnott ... coming soon to a rink near you.
                                                                                                          (Getty Images)
At 6-3, 225, David Backes will lead a big group of centers in 2011-12.

It's an idea general manager Doug Armstrong felt was a necessity to compete in the rugged Western Conference on a nightly basis. So when talking about the Blues' balance, the center position was a place to upgrade, especially physically.

I think that balance starts with the depth we have down the middle," Armstrong said. "One of the things we talked about when Jason's name came up was you go into San Jose, you've got Big Joe (Thornton); you go into Anaheim, you've got (Ryan) Getzlaf. We're hoping it's a role reversal. If you're going to check Backes tonight, then who's going to take Berglund? Who's going to take Arnott's group? When you run those three centers that are 6-2, 220-plus, that's big down the middle.

"Maybe we don't have any of the top 50 players in the game by all the publications, but we think some of our parts are going to be greater than one or two top 50 players."

Both Backes and Berglund are signed for at least the next two seasons, and depending on if the 37-year-old Arnott is a good fit on his one-year contract, this could be what Blues' opponents will line up against in the seasons to come.

"I think we're a defined top nine group," Armstrong said. "I think we're going to have really good balance."

* Perron in town -- All the talk centered around winger David Perron has been the progress he's made in his lengthy battle to overcome a serious concussion suffered last November.

Perron was recently in St. Louis, making the trek down from his native Sherbrooke, Quebec hometown. But according to Armstrong, it's nothing for Blues' fans to read too much into.

"We asked him to come in to see our training staff," Armstrong said. "Nothing more than to see our strength and conditioning coach (Nelson Ayotte) and to find out where his body makeup was at from not doing anything in a while. And to just reconnect with the coaches, the trainers, the players.

"There were no tests or anything like that. We made some decisions on what he'll do over the next month or so, which is all subject to change based on his ability to feel better and get to a point where he feels comfortable increasing his activities. ... I don't want to say it was a social visit, but it was a visit that we haven't seen him in a while."

* Goaltending battle will be key focus -- There's no question that Jaroslav Halak is unconditionally the Blues' No. 1 goalie. But when camp opens in 17 days, one of the many battles that will play out will be who will win the job as Halak's backup.

Will it be native Ben Bishop, resigned to a one-year, two way contract after becoming a restricted free agent, or will it be veteran Brian Elliott, signed to a one-year, two-way contract after splitting last season in Ottawa and Colorado? What will the Blues base their criteria on?

"If it's even, it will be hard to say," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "It's going to be practices, it's going to be exhibition games. We have to do our part to give these guys the opportunity to be on equal footing for us to evaluate and say, 'Hey, you've both had the same. Now we've got to make a decision.'

"It's both of their jobs to make our decision tough. We're going to go with performance, we're going to go with the guy who gives us the best chance -- when called upon a backup role -- to win."

* Petro's partner -- With expectations high on 21-year-old Alex Pietrangelo, the question shifts to who will become Pietrangelo's defensive partner on a regular basis this season.

Pietrangelo, who led the team in ice time at 22 minutes per game, will likely see his ice time increase as he becomes a better overall player and is used in all aspects.

Carlo Colaiacovo, one of Pietrangelo's close friends who's working harder this summer than he has in previous years, could be the candidate after the two finished last season playing regularly together and playing well.

"That's a legitimate question," Payne said. "(Pietrangelo) finished the year playing with Carlo. I thought they had some effective minutes. You've got (Kent) Huskins coming in who adds some experience to the mix, he's played some time with (Barret) Jackman. We've even tossed around the question: can he play on the left side? Does that involve Roman Polak? Does that involve a guy like (Kevin) Shattenkirk in certain situations?

"Petro had a heck of a year, and he's had a heck of a summer. He's got every intention to continue to push forward. Who that is with, I don't think we're going to be able to lock that in and say it's this guy and it's this guy the whole way. I think we'll be looking at that through camp."
                                                                                                                  (AP Photo)
Alex Pietrangelo and Carlo Colaiacovo (middle) could be a familiar pairing
on defense for the Blues in 2011-12. They're good friends off the ice.

Armstrong said the team isn't necessarily looking to find someone to match Pietrangelo's minutes, which could hit the mid- to upper-20's, but someone to maybe hit that 20-21 minute range.

"If you look at Petro, and if he earns and gets that extra ice time in the mid-20's to high 20's, he's going to play with an array of players because that means he's going to be playing on both ends of the special teams," Armstrong said. "His partner 5-on-5 won't be his partner on special teams, won't be his partner on the penalty kill. The extra minutes he gets will be spread throughout extra guys.

"Like most upper echelon defensemen, their minutes come with an array of partners because they're touching every aspect of the game."

Colaiacovo, who averaged just over 18 minutes a game last season, would be a guy Pietrangelo certainly embraces.

"We have really good chemistry. We get along really well," Pietrangelo said. "Those things are what trends on the ice. We have great communication with each other, play the same style and know where each other is going to be at.

"We know how each other play. It's not like we just got here and it's our first year. We have some familiarity with each other. We've become really close. That certainly helps. It really helps to play with a guy that's got the experience like he does."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blues ready for healthy competition with camp around the corner

Battles will be fierce for playing time,
roster positions as St. Louis unveils deep roster

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- B.J. Crombeen knows the drill. He understands the situation.

The Blues will enter the 2011-12 season with as deep a roster as they've had in quite a few seasons, which makes for some interesting camp battles when practice begins on Sept. 16.

Crombeen, beginning his fourth season with the Blues after signing a two-year, $2 million contract, understands that competition will be fierce, playing time is at stake and there's always someone out there that will be nipping at his blades trying to take away his job.

"It's always that way," Crombeen said. "There's always somebody that wants your job and you always want someone else's job. It's kind of that way for professional sports.

"I think everyone has a competitive nature. You always want to do better, you always want more. I think that's good to have on a team when you have guys pushing you and on your back biting on your heels to take your job. It pushes you to be better."
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B.J. Crombeen begins his fourth season with the Blues.

While Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said the top slots probably won't be at stake, the playing time that goes with it won't be guaranteed.

Armstrong, who orchestrated the deals that solidified the roster said, "Davis is going to have some different options that he's going to use there. I don't think we're going to be any different than any other team. Players that deserve to be here are going to be here.

"There's a lot of guys that are going to be here. We know it and they know it. One of the things I'm excited about is that maybe in the past, players have gotten ice time by default. I don't think that's going to be there right now. I think the default is gone now. They're going to have to earn that ice time. ... If we're talking about wanting to be a competitive team, we have to make hard decisions on players. If they're not pulling their weight and they have to go to the minors on a one-way deal, so be it. If we have to make space by making trades, so be it. You have to manage your assets and you have to manage expectations. But ultimately, if a player shows he should be here on a regular basis because of his play in training camp or his play in the minors, we'll make space for him because we're in the winning business."

Right now, Crombeen is penciled in among the top 12 forwards on the team, likely teamed up with Scott Nichol and Vladimir Sobotka on the team's fourth line. But make no mistake: each player will be geared to make the best impression possible.

"Everyone's looking forward to a healthy competition. It never hurts the team," Crombeen said. "As you've seen, you get injuries and things happen. To have the depth that we have right now, I think everyone's pretty excited about it and looking forward to getting going for the year."

Especially the likes of Ryan Reaves, Chris Porter, Stefan Della Rovere, Evgeni Grachev, who was acquired in a draft-day trade with the New York Rangers and even Jonathan Cheechoo, a former 50-goal scorer with the San Jose Sharks who the Blues signed to a one-year, two-way deal over the summer in hopes of rejuvenating his career. These guys would surely like to stay in St. Louis instead of making the trek north to Peoria and playing in the AHL.

"It's a statement that these guys want to come in and make," said Blues coach Davis Payne, who will have plenty of camp decisions to make before the Blues open the season Oct. 8 against Nashville. "We may have guys slotted here, we may have this opinion and impression where they fit in. They've got to come in and change our minds.
                                                                                   (Getty Images)
Evgeni Grachev is a player who gets a close look in camp.

"They've got to come in -- whether it's a Cheechoo or Grachev -- and say, 'I belong back or in this league on a permanent basis.' Whether it's a guy like (Matt) D'Agostini, who had a solid year but saying, 'Hey, this is where I fit. I am a top six guy going forward. End of story.' Whether it's a (Stefan) Della Rovere coming in and saying, 'You may think one thing but I'm going to play to the point where you can't ignore me.' The statements they've got to make and how that changes the mix every single day ... a guy has a great performance and all of the sudden, you start leaning on him and say, 'This guy's really shifting the whole dynamic of what he had pictured here.' That's their job. That's what training camp's for."

And the mentality of the Blues' players these days is not only expecting to making the playoffs but expecting to win the top prize: the Stanley Cup.

"You never want to say 'I hope,'" Crombeen said. "Every player comes and they expect to win every night. You look at our team, and there's no spot there where you can say, 'Oh, you don't have this, or you don't have that.' You look at our roster and we have it and we expect to win every night. Everyone's expecting to make the playoffs and go deep in the playoffs. You come into the year expecting to win the Stanley Cup.

"... We do have one of the younger teams, so to get some older guys that have won some Cups and have that experience, it's only going to help your team."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Berglund hoping maturation takes him to new heights

Center ready to build off career numbers, feels he can be among game's best

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When Patrik Berglund first pulled a Blues jersey at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, there was a teenager with a boyish, rock-star image. A young Swedish talent with shoulder-length blond locks who, like a number of others before him, felt like he could cross the Atlantic into North America and conquer the greatest league in the world without the understanding of the challenges lie ahead.

No sweat. Just do what comes naturally and the rewards will come. No work and all play.

Berglund, a first-round pick (26th overall) in 2006, posted impressive rookie numbers with 21 goals and 47 points in 76 games which also included a plus-19. But in hindsight, it may have been the worst possible scenario to occur for the Vasteras, Sweden native.

(Getty Images)
Patrik Berglund (left) celebrates a goal against Chicago last season.

"You come in and think you have everything all figured out," Berglund said Thursday. "I don't think that was a good way to come in here.

"I did have good numbers, but mentally and physically, I was not where I needed to be."

Fans felt like this would immediately become a special talent. The rookie numbers were in black and white.

They weren't wrong.

Berglund was a talented player. The talent is still there. But somehow, he got lost in the shuffle and could only regain his balance and focus through hard work and determination.

At 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, the tools were there physically for sure. But when Berglund went into the proverbial 'Sophomore Slump' and lost his confidence under then head coach Andy Murray and his system, the walls began to cave in.

The 2009-10 season only produced 13 goals and 26 points, drastic drop-offs in both offensive categories from the rookie campaign. Berglund's ice time dwindled, and his role on the team also faded.

"I really feel like it was good for me to go through some of those bumps and bruises in the road," Berglund said. "... You'll always bump into things that you have to deal with. From the beginning, I was pretty shaky. I did have a pretty good rookie year, but I was far away from home and all those things played into it. I had a lot of growing up to do."

It all started last summer. Berglund changed his habits in general. Workouts were different. No more extended trips back home to Sweden to allow the time to pass away and put in the occasional workout. He ate properly, slept properly, went about normal daily habits in a different light.

"I saw a lot of results right away," Berglund said. "I felt great at the time and you just want more of it. ... I've been doing the same this summer, and I feel great."

Starting last season under coach Davis Payne, Berglund didn't exactly light it up offensively at the outset but that was okay. Because something suddenly clicked.


Here was an 18-, 19-year-old that just tore through a couple 20-plus goal and 50-point seasons playing for his hometown Vik Vasteras HK, then catching lightning in a bottle in his rookie season in the NHL.
                                                                                                          (Getty Images)
Patrik Berglund (21) set career highs in goals, assists and points last year.

But when things didn't go according to plan, changes needed to be made. Payne and the Blues' coaching staff outlined a plan for their tall and talented center. Becoming more responsible at both ends of the ice was what was going to get Berglund more ice time and in essence, more opportunity.

In other words, take care of the ice around you, and the rewards will come.

It produced career-highs in goals (22), assists (30) and points (52) in 81 games before Berglund went to Slovakia to represent his native Sweden in the IIHF World Championships, where he was named to the tournament All-Star team and helped Sweden to a silver medal.

"It was a great experience and it's something I'll never forget," Berglund said of the World Championships, finishing with eight goals and 10 points. "I came in and I really felt like I was a leader on the team and I went out there and tried to lead the way. The puck went in, too, so that made it even better.

"I've always wanted to be a player the team can trust all over the ice and once I embraced a role on both ends of the ice, I feel like I've contributed well and the coaches trust me with the ice time in critical situations. I want to play as much as I can. I've picked up some good things from coaches and players along the way and it's helped me feel focused and always ready to play."

With expectations as high as they are for the Blues as the 2011-12 season approaches, Berglund is expected to pick up where he left off last season ... and maybe even take it a grade or two higher.

He was rewarded with a new two-year, $4.5 million contract and is as focused as ever.

"If he stays on that projection, I think we're in a good spot with Bergy," Payne said. "I think Bergy believes what he's capable of doing.

"You saw in the second half (last year) his willingness to have an impact or his intention to have an impact on the play. You saw him take his year and become reliable in his own end. You saw him work on face-offs. His preparation is why we saw such a steady progression and he understands that. He's taken it to a new level this summer. He had a great World Championship (and) it boosted his confidence. His opinion of himself and what he can do and what he believes he can do ... we feel real good about where Bergy is."

Added general manager Doug Armstrong, "(Anaheim's) Ryan Getzlaf, it's not how good his good games are that separates him or (San Jose's) Joe Thornton, it's how good his bad games are. That's how we look at Berglund. We know what the top end is going to be, but now, the floor is higher than it's ever been. That's how I look at it going in. You have to know what you're going to get on a nightly basis. ... We're looking for the floor to be raised on that age of the player to where they're consistent now, to where they're going to have their great games but their bad games are still NHL-caliber games."

Berglund, 23, feels good about where he is as well as the Blues, but he also understands there's more where that came from. There's more to achieve and with the effort he's putting into his progress, boundless opportunities exist.

"I'm not satisfied. I want to keep developing," Berglund said. "That's the only thing I'm thinking about when I'm working now.

"I had a great year, but I don't want to stop. I want to be ... this year, in five years, I want to be a player that is one of the best in the league. That's my goal. I know I can get there if I work hard and things go my way. That's my belief. I think it's important to have those expectations on yourself and not just be happy you had a good year. ... If I play well all over the ice, the results will show. We'll see where it takes me."

Look for Berglund to anchor the second line with close friend T.J. Oshie and power forward Chris Stewart. The potential could be limitless.

"It really took a while, but I feel really comfortable now," Berglund said. "I love St. Louis."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blues shifting gears, expect to be playoff team

Adding veterans provides depth, leadership; Perron
still not ready; captaincy to be resolved by start of camp

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- In recent seasons, the Blues have always been cautious about their choice of words in relation to the playoffs. It's always their "hope" to get in.

But with the opening of training camp three weeks away, "hope" has been placed on the backburner and turned into "expect."

"Yeah, I sure do," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said Thursday at a media session along with team president John Davidson and head coach Davis Payne when asked if he expects to make the playoffs.
"I think when we set into this summer, we realized that this is a very important year for this organization. We've gone through a growth process and I think the growing now is over. We're as close to a finished product as we've been in a number of years. It's time for us to get that done on the ice."

The Blues, who finished 10 points out of a playoff spot a season ago and were on the outside looking in for the fifth time in six seasons since the 2004-05 lockout, feel good about themselves after another strong finish. They have a number of players coming off impressive seasons and they've gone out and added some veteran experience and depth to compliment what they feel like is a playoff-ready roster.

The Blues once again fell behind the 8-Ball a season ago and were forced to play catch-up in a rugged and ultra-competitive Western Conference. Injuries certainly plagued this team, as it lost 300-plus man games to injury after a franchise-best 9-1-2 start.

"That was the one thing that crystallized itself last year," Armstrong said. "Having NHL-ready caliber players at Davis' disposal was something that we didn't have. We had to put a lot of young players in situations that they hadn't been in. To their credit, I thought they all played very well, but we had too many needing to go in there at once.

"I always think you just have to plan on having one guy out all year. So you're starting with 80 games on the injury list, and then you move forward. Unfortunately last year, we had three key players (David Perron, T.J. Oshie and Roman Polak) out at the same time for an extended period of time and we didn't have the depth to overcome that. If we have the same situation happen this year, I think we're more prepared to overcome it. Whether you're still deep enough, time's going to tell."

Armstrong made sure the cupboard was stocked this time with the acquisitions of veteran forwards Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Nichol along with veteran defenseman Kent Huskins. Arnott and Langenbrunner share three Stanley Cups between them.

"Langenbrunner, Arnott, Huskins, Nichol, they're all here to play," Armstrong said. "Part of what the added benefit that we get with their play is they're going to be able to provide leadership. We think they're going to be able to help our group through some of the ebbs and the flows that you go through in a season. But we don't want to take away from the leadership that we have here. Andy McDonald and Barret Jackman have had a lot of experience, even guys like (David) Backes are getting into the prime part of their careers. They have to take the bigger role."

Throw in the emergence of Patrik Berglund, Chris Stewart, Matt D'Agostini and Vladimir Sobotka, the ascension of Oshie, Alex Steen, Carlo Colaiacovo and Polak along with the rising play of blue liners Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, the Blues enter the season as deep and as talented from top to bottom as they've been under the current ownership regime, which is in the midst of selling the franchise.

But it's business as usual for the hockey operations people, and that will now rest in the hands of Payne and the coaches when camp opens Sept. 16. Payne and his staff will oversee some intriguing storylines unfold.

"I think there's quite a few that are intriguing," Payne said. "Obviously (Ben) Bishop and (Brian) Elliott (vying for the backup goalie job) is one when you start at the back. We know that that's a legitimate competition to see who's going to back Jaro (Halak) up. You go from a defensive standpoint, you've got some guys there who have experience now in (Nikita) Nikitin and we've got some guys there that are going to be fighting for playing time, for special team time. Where does that fit in based on play? Ian Cole's going to be another guy in the mix in that situation.

"You're talking about a group of forwards up front that you could take nine or 10 of them and really kind of mix them together and say who are going to be the key guys on special teams, who are going to be the key guys in top-line situations, perhaps a matchup situation. These guys define themselves with their roles and responsibilities last year and now you're adding an Arnott, you're adding Langenbrunner, guys with experience up and down the lineup. A guy like Scotty Nichol, who's a good face-off guy. Now all of the sudden, key responsibilities come to play in there with a guy like Sobotka. There's lots of interesting things that go on with the existing guys, and then of course, you've got (Evgeni) Grachev in the mix. Where does a big kid with his skill fit in? How does he adjust? How does he perform? You've got a guy like (Jonathan) Cheechoo who's shown great things and has really shown a lot of determination this summer to make a statement. There's a lot of key things there for us to pay attention to."

Armstrong said there are no notable injuries to players that will affect their time in camp except for Nichol, who's coming off surgery in the off-season to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder and of course Perron, who still is out due to post-concussion symptoms suffered in the 10th game last season.

"I think you can go back to what we said in December, January, February, March," Armstrong said. "I've had recent conversations with David. He's feeling better, he's still not at the point where he's beginning to train for an NHL season. He has symptoms occur ... not on a regular basis, but they do occur at certain times. Those symptoms are discussed between he, his medical staff, his doctors and our trainers. But the approach that we take in this organization is until David says that he's ready to actively get into the area where he can start training to participate with the team, then it's status quo.

"The next question to follow is do you think he's going to play this year, and I've heard that quite a bit ... our thought is we think he's going to play, but we don't have any medical backing on that. He's a young man, it's his first concussion. Every time I do have a chance to talk to him, he sounds better. He's progressing ... not as quickly as he wishes and we all wish but he is progressing. I think that one day, he'll push through whatever's there and he'll get to the point where he has to get to."

When camp opens up Sept. 16, the unresolved issue of a captain should come to a head as well, according to Armstrong. The Blues have been without a full-time captain since they traded away Eric Brewer last season and went with a committee of alternates.

Armstrong didn't say one way or the other, but there's a chance the Blues could go full time for the immediate future with a group of 'A's instead of naming a captain.

"We're discussing that now," Armstrong said. "We want to get the input of some of the other people in our organization -- the coaches, some people in our management staff -- and we'll have that decision by the first day of training camp ... whether we go with a group of players that will make up a leadership group or we name a captain.

"We're further ahead than we were at the end of the season, but we're not at the point where we've solidified what we want to do, and that's something that we'll spend the next three weeks discussing."

In the meantime, players have begun to trickle into the team's practice facility at St. Louis Mills, participating in informal skates in preparation for camp, the regular season and from the Blues' perspective, the playoffs.

"I think our fans have been patient and it's time for the organization to reward that patience with a good season," Armstrong said. "... The ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup, but what we found out last year is you have no chance of winning the Stanley Cup unless you play in the Stanley Cup tournament. We have to get to the playoffs this year and then we'll let everything fall from that point."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Perron won't be ready for training camp, start of season

Winger missed final 72 games last season after
concussion, not cleared for beginning of 2011-12

ST. LOUIS -- With the start of training camp roughly six weeks away, it was time for the Blues and David Perron to make a decision that will give both sides an indication of whether the winger would be ready to start the upcoming season.

The Blues were hoping for good news, and they did get some to an extent but not the full-proof news they had been hoping for.

After Blues general manager Doug Armstrong spoke with Perron, his agent Allan Walsh and the Blues' medical staff via conference call Monday, the decision has been made: Perron won't be ready to begin the 2011-12 season.

The Blues are hopeful David Perron (57) will play at
some point this season.                              (file photo)
Perron, who suffered a concussion on Nov. 4 against San Jose of last season on a blindside hit from Joe Thornton, still is experiencing symptoms that caused the 23-year-old to miss the final 72 games.

Thornton's hit came as the Sharks center was coming out of the penalty box near center ice. Perron, looking for a pass from teammate Alex Pietrangelo, never saw the hit coming. Thornton was suspended two games under the league's Rule 48 and cost him $77,419.36 in salary. It's cost Perron much, much more.

It is understood that until those symptoms completely subside, there will be no hockey in Perron's immediate future.

"David has shown improvement," Armstrong said Wednesday morning, "but it's not to the point where he's ready to come in and work out and start training yet.

"... We're going to continue down the course we're at right now. But where we're at now, in the summer and with training camp, we've decided to just move forward with the idea that David won't be ready for training camp ... he'll just continue to progress and when he is ready, whatever time he is ready, he'll jump back in and start his training to resume his career. But we're not expecting him at training camp."

Progress has been made with Perron but not to the point where he can begin on- or off-ice training in preparation for a heavy workload.

Training camp is set to open Sept. 16 and the regular season begins Oct. 8.

Armstrong said Perron's progress "took a big jump a few months ago." At that point, Perron attempted some basic and light exercises to see how the body would respond.

"It's been slow and steady now," Armstrong said. "He did some light, light workouts -- never got his heart-rate too high -- (but) some of the symptoms (and) a little fatigue set in.

"As I've said, the signs are all improving. He's seen numerous doctors and we think he's getting excellent advice and excellent care. The injury he has, you just have to wait ... your body and your mind will tell you when you're ready to go."

Even when Perron, who had five goals and two assists when his season ended last year, is ready to begin working out full-time, it will take a lengthy period to get himself in shape and fitness-fit to be game-ready. He'll first have to pass the Blues' battery of tests and likely the VO2 max testing, which the Blues' training staff utilizes on the first day of training camp for the players.

"He hasn't lifted any weights yet or trained since the injury," Armstrong said of Perron. "Not only is he going to have to get his skating legs back, he's going to have to get his body back in NHL shape. With that is going to come his puck skills, his hands and timing. There's going to be a process that he's going to have to go through once he does get medically cleared to do the physical training.

"Everyone is different, but we're not going to put David in a position to fail. We're going to put him in there when he's ready."

The Blues believe Perron will play at some point this season. At what point is the question.

"David ... doesn't want to answer these questions," Armstrong said. "He just wants to focus on getting ready. I think it's just better for David, for the coaches, for everyone to realize that he is progressing but we're not expecting him to be ready at training camp.

"... I think it's important to let David just continue going at his own pace. He just wants to focus on getting ready. He'll let us know when he's ready. Nobody wants David to play like David wants to play."

Perron, the Blues' first round pick (26th overall) in 2007, has 53 goals and 131 points in 235 career games.