Friday, May 25, 2012

McCarthy steps down from post with Blues

A founding partner with previous ownership group, CEO will pursue other interests

ST. LOUIS -- Mike McCarthy, one of the remaining pieces from the previous ownership group, announced on Friday that he has decided to step down from his post.

McCarthy, who has been the
CEO of St. Louis Blues Enterprises, is a founding partner of the SCP Worldwide group that purchased the Blues and Scottrade Center in June of 2006. McCarthy, a Fairfield, Conn. resident, moved to St. Louis full time in September of 2010 to assume the role of CEO of the Blues. His responsibilities primarily focused on the business side of the Blues, Scottrade Center and the newly reopened Peabody Opera House.
Mike McCarthy

"With the ownership situation resolved here in St. Louis and on very solid footing with Tom Stillman and his group, I feel comfortable now going back home knowing that the organization has transitioned smoothly and professionally," McCarthy said in a statement. "I am now able with a clear conscience to pursue other interests and should have something to announce shortly in that regard.

"St. Louis is an amazing place to work and live, and I’ve especially understood that over the past two full seasons. The Blues, and of course Blues fans, are a major reason why I will always look back on my time here with great fondness. I thank my front office colleagues for making this journey a truly enriching professional experience."

Stillman, who along with 15 other partners purchased the Blues earlier this month, said of McCarthy in a statement: "Mike McCarthy has done an outstanding job managing the business of the Blues, the Scottrade Center, and the Peabody Opera House. He has done so at considerable personal sacrifice, as he has been away from his wife and family for long stretches of time.

"Having guided the business through the closing of the sale transaction, Mike has decided to return home to the New York area to continue his career. I want to thank Mike for his excellent work and his professionalism, and I wish him the very best in the future."

The Blues have not announced a replacement to the position, but if one is given, this will only fuel the persistent rumors of former Blue Brett Hull joining the organization in this capacity.

Also, there have been reports that team president John Davidson could leave his post as well, as early as next week. Davidson, who was brought in by previous owner Dave Checketts, was the architect that brought the Blues from the doldrums of when the franchise was bought in 2006 to its current place in the NHL, who was the second-highest point total (109) this past season.

The 59-year-old Davidson, who recently finished the first year of a four-year contract extension, has a clause that allows him to opt out with ownership change.

While Davidson has given no indication of his desire to leave, there is a realistic possibility he will do so to, as McCarthy has done, pursue other interests.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blues intentions for Tarasenko clear

2010 first-round pick would play in St. Louis 
next season if he chooses to come to the NHL

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- As the window closes regarding his intentions for next season, the question by the day is what will Vladimir Tarasenko choose to do?

That's what all interested parties involved would like to know. And fairly soon.

Will Tarasenko, the 16th overall pick in 2010 finally make the trek to North America and play in the National Hockey League, or does he remain in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League?

While the KHL can match the riches of the NHL in monetary figures, there's always the persona that the NHL is the greatest league in the world and Russian-born players find it their challenge to come over and try to conquer it.
(Getty Images)
Vladimir Tarasenko after being selected at the 2010 NHL Draft in L.A.

And even though the 20-year-old Tarasenko has yet to make his intentions clear, if he needs a little prodding, maybe Blues general manager Doug Armstrong's message resonates loud and clear.

"We would not sign him to come over here and play in our minor league system," Armstrong said. "But all that being said, September 20th or whenever training camp opens, he has to prove it not to me, he has to prove it to the guys that he's sitting next to in the room that he's ready to play.

"We'd like him to come over because we think he can push for a roster spot on our team. We think he has the pedigree, he has the experience now."

Tarasenko finished the 2011-12 KHL season with 47 points (23 goals, 24 assists) in 54 games with both Novosibirsk Siber, where he played 39 games before being traded to St. Petersburg SKA. He helped lead St. Petersburg to the conference finals and finished with
10 goals and 16 points in 15 playoff games.

Now it's up to Tarasenko to decide his future after he was left off of Russia's roster at the World Championships, which were just completed over the weekend in Sweden and Finland.

Armstrong went to the Scandinavian countries to have dialogue with the Tarasenko's camp, which include his U.S.-based agent and former Blues goalie Mike Liut as well as his Russian-based agent Alexei Dementiev.

"I know that the window is starting to close and his agents do," Armstrong said. "We've had some initial conversations that we're going to talk before June 1st."

It's also a legitimate question to wonder if Tarasenko, who was picked two spots behind the Blues' Jaden Schwartz, is ready to play in the NHL, why was he suddenly left off of Russia's roster at the Worlds?

Russian national coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov told Sovetsky Sport ( that it came down to conditioning.

However, reports indicate that Tarasenko, listed at 6-foot-0, 202 pounds, is in shape and that he has been putting on muscle to prepare for his next challenge, which is the NHL, and it didn't sit too well with the national team. Also, with Tarasenko balking at making a commitment to playing in Russia next season could have been another reason he was left out of Russia's journey to winning the world championships.

"This young man still needs to learn," Bilyaletdinov told the publication, "and to understand that there’s a completely different level here. To play in the World Championships you need to prepare.

"Tarasenko came in such a condition that I thought he wasn’t quite prepared. I don’t know what it is related to. I wouldn’t want to discuss Vladimir’s attitude to work. But he needs to learn a certain lesson."
(Getty Images)
Vladimir Tarasenko captained Russia to a gold medal victory at the 2011
World Junior Championships.

Armstrong didn't sound like he was disappointed in Tarasenko being left off the roster and wasn't buying the political game of cards Russia was engaged in.

"No, the political games, not only for the Russian country, but … everyone views the World Championships differently," Armstrong said. "You're looking at players for potential Olympics, for different things. He made it last year, he had a good season [in the KHL this year]. He didn't make it on the roster this year. Why that is, I don't speak Russian so I'm not exactly sure why he's not on the team, but that has zero concern for me whether we think he should come to the NHL.

"We think he should come to the NHL. I hope he does come to the NHL. But I preface that by saying if he doesn't, he's still [20] years old. He's got a great career ahead of him. But we hope he comes. We'll see if he does."

Tarasenko could be weighing his options because there's the uncertainty of the NHL next season. With the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire Sept. 15, Tarasenko could view that as a hurdle and have an unwillingness to come and play in Peoria until the NHL and NHLPA come together on a new CBA.

There's a concern among Blues fans that the team could lose Tarasenko, as NHL teams have two years to sign European players from the time they're drafted. However, since Russia is not part of the International Ice Hockey Association transfer agreement, there is no deadline on signing Tarasenko.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blues' immediate future will be determined by budget, future CBA

Changes will be made to current roster despite highly successful regular season

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When his Blues were swept out of the Western Conference Semifinals by the Los Angeles Kings, general manager Doug Armstrong didn't waste any time turning his attentions to a plan looking ahead to next season.

Yes, there's the uncertainty of the current collective bargaining agreement, which is set to expire on Sept. 15, but until someone tells him to stop working, Armstrong will continue to build the Blues as he sees fit -- and to improve on one of the best seasons in franchise history.

And with new ownership in place in Summit Distributing Chairman and CEO Tom Stillman leading the way along with 15 other local investors, there's a level of anticipation among the Blues community wondering which direction the hockey operations will go now that ownership stability is in place.

Of course, there's a question of a budget, which will determine just what the Blues will do when the summer season kicks in. When asked if he'd like a larger budget to work with, Armstrong didn't waste time responding with a laugh: "I'm a [general] manager, you always want a bigger budget."

(Getty Images)
Should the Blues have interest in Nashville's Ryan
Suter if he hits the open market on July 1st? He
would give the Blues a terrific 1-2 punch with Alex
Pietrangelo on the blue line. But he will cost
a lot to acquire.

The Blues' payroll was in the bottom 10 of the NHL this past season [$54,872,778], and judging by the remaining four teams left competing for the Stanley Cup, only Phoenix is not in the top 15.

"History's shown that the teams that spend at or near the cap are successful," Armstrong said. "I don't think you have to spend to the cap to be successful, but you have to be competitive in being able to sign your own players. I think that's the key for us staying competitive is signing our own players right now.

"As we all know, there's a new NHL landscape coming on. This CBA expires on Sept. 15th. The NHL and NHLPA will work on what the parameters are. I've been through three or four of these. There's no sense trying to rub a crystal ball because I'm not going to come up with the right answers. I'll get our budget for next season and then we'll find out what the ground rules are and when the CBA is done and we'll respond to that."

The Blues will have a group of unrestricted free agents [Barret Jackman, Carlo Colaiacovo, Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner, Scott Nichol, Chris Porter and Kent Huskins] as well as restricted free agents [T.J. Oshie, David Perron and Chris Stewart] that they will have to make decisions on, then proceed as they see fit. Armstrong and Stillman will discuss parameters of a budget in the near future.

"We'll do that over the next couple weeks," said Stillman, who will also look into extending Armstrong's contract, which has one year remaining on it. "There will be, on my part, a lot of listening there. I'm not going to come in and start making pronouncements. I'm going to learn, learn more first."

Added Armstrong: "That is something that will have to take place here by early June ... to get a budget so we can focus on what we need to do. There's no reason to speculate on that until everything is settled. ... In due course they'll let me know the new parameters to move forward and we'll move forward."

How Armstrong proceeds is also predicated by the fact that the Blues will have even bigger decisions and contracts regarding their own players to look at following the completion of next season. Andy McDonald and B.J. Crombeen can become UFA's, but the list of RFA's includes Patrik Berglund, Matt D'Agostini, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Kris Russell, Ian Cole as well as a number of prospects playing in Peoria.

"That's the manager's job is to be able to project one year, two years, five years down the road," Armstrong said. "The one positive is that I'm 100 percent confident that by next July 1st I'll know what the next CBA looks like. [Unrestricted] free agency could be 22, it could be 32. You just respond to that.

"I have a game plan in mind. I don't like to share my game plans very often, but I do have a real true feeling over what we need to do over the next 12, 24, 36 months and at the right point, I'll share that with the right people."

Can the Blues move forward without making any drastic changes? When one doesn't win it all, of course they'll look at ways of making things right. And everyone wants to know if the two most prized UFA's in New Jersey's Zach Parise and Nashville's Ryan Suter [should they hit the open market July 1st] will be on the Blues' radar. Both are going command big dollars and five-plus years on new contracts and have 29 other teams [including their current ones] vying for their services.

(Getty Images)
New Jersey's Zach Parise (front) would give the Blues
an instant infusion of offense if they were to sign the
unrestricted free agent to be.
Despite the second-best record and point total in franchise history (49-22-11), the Blues were still 12 wins away from winning it all, and that means all the regular season accolades weren't enough to push through 16 more wins.

"I've never started a season where I didn't think winning a Stanley Cup shouldn't be our goal," Armstrong said. "We believe we've made progress, but I'm not satisfied. I don't know how when you're not the team at the end that's having a parade that you had a good season. We've made steps towards it, but if we're satisfied now, then we're not going to move forward. If the players believe they've accomplished something, then I think they're going to have to look in the mirror and say what do you really want to accomplish."

Of course, being swept in a four-game series has a lot to do with not being satisfied.

"I think when you lose 4-0, you got beat soundly, and we got beat soundly by a very good L.A. team," Armstrong said. "They beat the No. 1 seed, they beat the No. 2 seed and now they're [beating] the No. 3 seed. L.A. was a team that we played earlier in the year in October ... they gave us our lunch. I thought at that time they were one of the best teams in the league. They seemed to go through an extended period of time where they were trying to find their footing, and they found it at the right time. They were preseason Stanley Cup favorites for a reason. They're showing it now. But they were a better team than we were over the last two weeks. We have to find a way to be able to compete with them. We couldn't do it this time."

However, it doesn't mean the Blues will overhaul the roster. A team that led the NHL in goals against (165) doesn't need much change on the back end as long as the goaltending tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott build off their Jennings Trophy season, but improved goal scoring is certainly an area that could use a boost, as the Blues were 21st in the league with 206 (2.51 per game). And if both Jackman and Colaiacovo are not brought back, there will be a void on the left side of the defensive unit.

"You look at the teams that are in play for the Western Conference championship, I would say that committee approach is working pretty well for them," Armstrong said. "I think in the NHL, it is scoring by committee, it's game by committee. The floor is so close to the ceiling now in the NHL. There are no elite super-teams. There are no really bad teams. What you want to do is to get yourself into that top six or seven and stay out of that bottom six or seven because everybody else is the same. This year we were able to get out of that midpoint ... we were able to get out of that bottom point. That was the first step. We got out of that bottom six. We stepped right through the mid-level to the upper echelon.

"Our goal is to stay up at that upper echelon so we're not battling every March just for the right to get into the playoffs. That's a huge challenge. That's not easy to do, but that is our challenge."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Blues have decisions to make regarding unrestricted free agents

Jackman, Colaiacovo among crop of players team needs
to decide of they want to keep or move in another direction

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- From the moment Barret Jackman was taken with the 17th pick of the 1999 NHL Draft, he's done nothing other than bleeding blue.

Jackman made his NHL debut in the 2001-02 season -- albeit only one game in the regular season and one on the playoffs -- and aside from a 31-game stint with the Missouri River Otters during the 2004-05 NHL lockout season, a one-game conditioning stint in Peoria in 2006-07 and nine games playing for Canada the same year at the World Championships, wearing the Bluenote is the only logo the Trail, British Columbia native knows.

But for the first time in the 10-year career of the Blues' left-handed defenseman who's been a mainstay on the blue line, Jackman will enter an off-season uncertain of his future.

(Getty Images)
Has Barret Jackman played his final game in a Blues
uniform? Jackman becomes an unrestricted free agent
on July 1st.

Unless Jackman and the Blues come up with a new contract before the free agency season opens -- which is highly unlikely -- the 30-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

Both Jackman and fellow left-handed defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo will be set to become UFA's when the checkbooks are officially allowed to open up on July 1st.

Jackman, who has 20 goals and 139 points in 598 career games in the NHL [tying him with Chris Pronger for ninth on the all-time franchise list in games played], had arguably one of his best seasons this past regular season playing primarily with young defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He had a goal and 12 assists in 81 games and was a plus-20, which was tied with Shattenkirk for second on the team behind Alex Steen's team-leading plus-24 playing a defensive defenseman's role.

However, Jackman admitted that he wasn't good enough in the playoffs, finishing with a team-worst minus-8 rating in nine games, as the Blues beat San Jose in five games but were swept out of the postseason by Los Angeles in four.

Jackman, who is commended for being one of the players that played through some tough injuries throughout his career, indicated that he'd like to be back with the Blues. He just finished up a four-year, $14.5 million contract in the city his wife, son and daughter call home.

It'll all come down to what direction the Blues, specifically general manager Doug Armstrong, want to go in.

"Ownership is probably going to be a big part of the direction of the team," Jackman said. "... There's a lot of time until July 1st. We'll wait and see what happens on that front. Army will get some direction and then we'll talk at that point.

"St. Louis is my home and no matter what happens, I'm a Blue through and through. I've had the best 10 years of my life in St. Louis. I hope to have another 15 years in my career. This is my No. 1 choice and priority right now."

Jackman, who won the Calder Trophy in 2003, beat out Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg for the award given to the top rookie, hopes to have a direction from the Blues in the next few weeks.

It could all be uncharted territory for Jackman.

"It's all Army. We had a brief discussion [last week]," Jackman said. "We just talked about we'll let things settle down and we'll talk in a couple weeks and really decide whether it's the right fit or not."

The same goes for the 29-year-old Colaiacovo, who finished up a two-year, $4.25 million contract.

The Toronto native, who was acquired from the Maple Leafs along with Steen for Lee Stempniak in 2008, has spent the past four seasons in a Blues uniform.

Colaiacovo is coming off a two-goal, 19-point season in 64 games that includes a plus-8 rating. Both goals were game-winners.

Colaiacovo has 30 goals and 139 points in 370 career games, including 18 goals and 124 points in 259 games with the Blues.

"I don't really know what the next couple months is going to present to myself," said Colaiacovo, who was a healthy scratch for Game 4 of the series against the Kings, which eliminated the Blues. "We haven't had any talks at all. It could be good or bad when you look at that.

"I think the focus was just to concentrate on the season, which was fine for me. I didn't want to have any distractions."

Like Jackman, Colaiacovo has taken a liking to St. Louis and would love to remain here. He was the primary partner with top d-man Alex Pietrangelo, who is Colaiacovo's closest friend on the team.

"My first choice and priority is to be here," Colaiacovo said. "I love it here, I love the group of guys. It's the best team I've ever played on at this level. I hope to continue to be a part of that.

"This year, I definitely elevated or took a different step in my career and in my game to be more of an important player to the team. I really appreciated that role and that opportunity. I hope it continues. But I think right now, we'll just let the dust settle. In due time, we'll see where they're at and where I'm at and hopefully we come to an agreement somewhere or come to some sort of conclusion. But right now, I'm a St. Louis Blue. I hope I stay that way. Until things change, I'm not going to think any other way."

Colaiacovo had a similar exit meeting as Jackman did with Armstrong. Both sides decided to let things settle before making any decisions.

"In our conversations [last week], that's sort of where we've left it," Colaiacovo said. "We're going to let the dust settle. They're going to do their meetings. They're going to have a talk within themselves. They're going to see what opportunities present themselves and then we're going to be in touch. Hopefully, the sooner the better.
(Getty Images)
Carlo Colaiacovo (left) can also become an unrestricted free agent on
July 1st if he doesn't resign with the Blues.

"But if it takes right until the end to let it happen or to make it happen, I have nothing but time right now. Obviously I want to put myself in the right situation for myself and my family and moving forward. My four years here have been nothing but great. I've really enjoyed my time here. I have nothing but great memories, great things and great people that I've met. I hope it stays that way. I haven't really thought about anything else."

It's also expected that the Blues will not resign veteran Kent Huskins, who was inked to a one-year, $1 million deal. The Blues will give a serious look to 2007 No. 1 pick Ian Cole heading into next season as a top-six defenseman. And with Kris Russell locked in on the left side for at least another season, there's a strong possibility of three new lefties that will enter camp in September should the Blues move on from Jackman, Colaiacovo and Huskins.

"There's going to be change. I guarantee you there's going to be change," Armstrong said without being specific. "That's just the nature of the beast in our game, but I need to sit down with our coaching staff and get their evaluations on the players and where they believe who can help us moving forward.

"There's unrestricted free agents. They also have a say in where they go. They may not want to come back here. We'll have to sit down and decide that. Those are things that I'm a firm believer in using the time that you're given. July 1st is the next deadline that I have to worry about for this team. We have the draft and other things that all come into play before that. For the NHL team, July 1st is the next deadline and we're either going to sign our free agents, our unrestricted guys, or they'll test the market. If they test the market, we test the market. As far as the restricted free agents, I believe in the strength of our organization and I believe in the strength of our current ownership group. And if it changes, the strength in that ownership group will be ready to match any offer that'll be given to any player if we want to keep them."

Monday, May 14, 2012

NHL experience will help Schwartz moving forward

Blues' 2010 No. 1 pick has good understanding of
what he needs to do to this summer be ready for 2012-13

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When the Blues decided to bring 19-year-old Jaden Schwartz, the team's first round pick in 2010, straight to the NHL instead of giving him the proper seasoning at the AHL level, there was a pretty good sense they knew what they were getting.

The Blues weren't getting just an average, ordinary teenager who would step onto the biggest stage of professional hockey like a deer in headlights. They were getting a player showing the maturity of a seasoned veteran.

It's easy to feel that way considering Schwartz was a two-time captain for Canada's World Junior squad.

Of course Blues general manager Doug Armstrong admitted injuries at the time played a part in signing Schwartz in mid-March to a three-year entry-level contract knowing one year would be gone by the wayside, but with Schwartz's skill-set and maturity level, there was no second-guessing.
(Getty Images)
Jaden Schwartz scored two goals and had one assist in seven games after
signing an entry-level contract in March. He was the 14th overall pick in 2010.

He carries himself and he seems to be emotionally mature beyond his years," Armstrong said at the time. "That's not a concern of ours that he's mentally ready for the challenge. Physically, he's the player that we drafted. We want to find out where his strength is at this level. I think he's a player that the NHL level might be an easier level to play at than the American League level because his game is based around hockey sense. The ability to play with good players should hopefully play into his game."

Schwartz played in seven games and scored twice -- on his first two NHL shots on goal. He couldn't have scripted things better.

"I got a ton. I really learned a lot," Schwartz said. "One of the biggest things is just kind of getting to know the guys, the training staff, coaching systems. I think that was big for me.

"It was a dream-come-true to get to play in some games. After the first couple you settle down a little bit and focus on playing. You're still excited, but the first game, you really get up for that. It was very cool. I didn't know that was going to happen. I didn't expect that after the college season, but it was very exciting, a great opportunity and I'm really glad I got to come in. It's going to help me going forward."

Drafted out of Colorado College, Schwartz is expected to compete for a top-12 role with the Blues next season, and even though his last game on the ice was April 7 at Dallas, Schwartz will have a head-start on what an NHL life is all about.

"I'll just feel more comfortable coming in next year," Schwartz said. "I've got to earn a spot, so I'm looking forward to a good off-season. I learned a lot on the ice. Playing in seven games, you learned a ton, how much room there is out there, how hard it is and obviously watching too, you watch guys like [Andy] McDonald and [Alex] Steen ... guys that have been around for a while. You learn a lot from watching them and watching them practice. A lot of skill stuff I need to work on and I need to get stronger, too. I was really happy I got to come in. I'm looking forward to taking what I learned and going forward."

Schwartz was a healthy scratch for the nine playoff games. But getting a firsthand view of playoff hockey was beneficial in his eyes. He practiced with the team throughout the postseason.

"There's definitely a lot more on the line," Schwartz said. "Everything gets amped up a little bit and there's a lot less room out there. I learned a lot watching the San Jose series and the L.A. series. I'm glad to be here, especially practices. You learn a lot in that but games, too."
(Getty Images)
Jaden Schwartz (left) was able to score on his first two NHL shots after
signing an entry-level contract out of Colorado College.

Schwartz, who came off a 15-goal, 41-point sophomore season with the Tigers after tallying 17 goals and 47 points his freshman season, will work out with a personal trainer in his native Melfort, Saskatchewan but will make frequent visits to St. Louis to work with strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte as well.

For a family that struggled with the tragic loss of Jaden's sister Mandi Schwartz to acute myeloid leukemia a year ago in April, parents Rick and Carol Schwartz can find comfort in knowing their youngest son is on a successful path to the NHL.

"It's going to be a lot different," Schwartz said of his summer plans. "It's a very big off-season for me. I've got to come in and earn my spot and show them that I can make the team next year.

"It's going to be a long off-season. I've got to get stronger and focus on stuff on the ice as well. It's different goals and I'm looking forward to them, looking forward to the challenge."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Halak felt helpless as teammates were falling

Ankle injury early in postseason would not allow netminder
to return leaving Blues void of best tandem in NHL this past season

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When his teammate lunged to break up a potential scoring play and tumble heavily into him, Jaroslav Halak immediately knew it wasn't good.

"I knew right away," the Blues' goalie said, referring to teammate Barret Jackman accidentally crashing into him causing a high ankle sprain. "It's one thing to be injured during the regular season and one thing to be injured during the playoffs. You play 82 games just to get in the playoffs and I played one game and one period and that was it.

"It's always tough when teammates play and you just can't do anything."

(Getty Images)
Blues defenseman Barret Jackman (right) collides with goalie Jaroslav
Halak (41) that would eventually lead to Halak's high ankle sprain and
knock the the netminder out of the playoffs.
It was Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against San Jose, early in the second period. The Blues were up 1-0, and Jackman was racing back to break up a potential San Jose goal when he dove towards the Sharks' Martin Havlat. Jackman helped break the play up but in the process of getting to his feet, tumbled into Halak.

Halak lay face first on the ice, and it was first thought that he was hit in the head. After treatment from head athletic trainer Ray Barile, Halak would get to his skates and it was thought he would remain in the game. But he skated off, went back to the Blues' locker room and in essence, his playoffs were finished.

"It's part of the game ... it's the (lousy) part of the game," Halak said. "You just can't do anything about injuries. They happen during the regular season and in the playoffs. It sucks ... you play in the playoffs and it happened so early. I don't wish anybody to get hurt. It was tough to watch the guys. Hopefully in the future it won't happen again."

Brian Elliott, who at the start of the postseason was dealing with an upper-body injury. He was thrust into action and the Blues were able to dispatch the Sharks in five games, as Elliott was 3-0 with a 1.37 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in the series.

But when the heat rose and the Los Angeles Kings were beating the Blues at their own game and Elliott struggled to make saves, there was no buffer for the Blues that they had the luxury of going to throughout the regular season. The Halak-Elliott tandem was what made this duo the Jennings Trophy winners.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock admitted earlier this week that it was a factor in the Blues being swept in the second round.

"Yeah, it was huge," Hitchcock said. "It was a big issue, but what are you going to do?

"Jaro's got a long rehab ahead of him. He's got a lot of work to do before he can get back on the ice and participate. That's just the nature of our game."

Hitchcock used the two-goalie system to perfection throughout the regular season. Why? Because both goalies seemed to know how to push each other.

When one guy's level started to drop off at practice, you knew it would happen in a game, so then you put the other guy in," Hitchcock said. "We knew which guy was hot, which guy was struggling, so we seemed to put the right guy in at the right time all the time."

Elliott was 0-4 with a 3.29 GAA and .854 save percentage against the Kings ... hardly the numbers he put up against the Sharks and the NHL-leading 1.56 GAA and .940 save percentage in the regular season.

"I didn't know what the situation was with Jaro," Elliott recalled after Halak's injury. "It's basically I hopped in there in the first series and you just try to keep it going for the second. I don't think you really change mindsets or anything.

"As a goalie and I think with myself throughout my career, the most pressure that I've had is the one I put on myself. I treated it just like the rest of the season. When you're in, you want to keep that going. When I got in there in the first series, that's how it felt. In the second series, you want to keep it going. The first game, we probably shot ourselves in the foot a little bit and we couldn't get it back for the rest of the games."

Hitchcock was going with a game-by-game prognosis with Halak in the opening series, calling it a lower-body injury. The Blues' netminder, who was 26-12-7 with a 1.97 GAA and .926 save percentage in the regular season, was initially skating and riding the bike on his own.

"Obviously you want to come back as soon as you can, as soon as possible, but if the injury doesn't let you come back, you just have to take your time," Halak said. "It's one thing when you just walk and it's another when you have to put a skate on. You have to do the movements in the crease, you have to go down. That's when the pain kicks in."

Halak's injury would not allow him initially to be ready for the first two games against the Kings, then he was ruled out the entire series and in essence, he was done for the playoffs, although the Blues never publicly stated it.

"It was tough," Halak said. "I thought it was going to be the first series, then I thought maybe two weeks and come back. But it didn't allow me to come back before. It's always tough. ... You want to get out there and make the difference.

"It feels better now. Obviously it feels better but probably I need a little bit more time before it heals properly."

And just like that, the goalie tandem was done for the playoffs and the Blues' season was done. But not without some high praise for a goaltending tandem that Hitchcock on a number of occasions stated that "they are the backbone of our team. They're the story of this season."
(Getty Images)
Brian Elliott picked up where Jaroslav Halak left off in the series
against San Jose but slipped along with the rest of the Blues against
Los Angeles.

"It was a good feeling, but we didn't accomplish anything in the playoffs," Halak said. "Obviously when everybody looks at our regular season, it's been a great season for us. But when you look at the playoffs, we still only won four games. You have to win 16 to win the Stanley Cup, so we were still far away from being there."

Both goalies are under contract for two more seasons, and depending on how things play out in training camp when it is expected to open in mid-September -- barring a new collective bargaining agreement in place -- the Blues could very well work the 1-2 punch again in 2012-13.

"Obviously Ells wants to play more games, I want to play more games," Halak said. "But I think the way he played this season, he deserved to play ... maybe even more.

"Who knows? We'll see what happens next season, but I'm sure next season is not going to be any different from my perspective or his."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Stewart enters most important summer of career

Blues power forward will attack off-season training
aggressively, determined to getting back to "being Chris Stewart"

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Chris Stewart heard all the preseason hype. It didn't fall on deaf ears.

"Obviously I didn't score the 40 goals that everyone was talking about," Stewart proclaimed.

Yeah, Stewart was rated in that category [this writer included] of players who will have a breakout year. In fact, getting to 35-40 goals was not out of reach for a raw talent that's big, strong and has hands and a skill-set to go with that strength.
(Getty Images)
Chris Stewart (25) will work a personal trainer this summer in Toronto in
order to have a better summer workout schedule in hopes of returning
back to form after a down season.

And following back-to-back 28-goal seasons, there was much anticipation for Stewart, who was the centerpiece in the blockbuster trade a year ago that also fielded defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and sent the Colorado former No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson and Jay McClement.

But not only did Stewart, a restricted free agent to be stumble, he took a nosedive statistics-wise that not many expected.

He finished the season with 15 goals and 30 points in 77 games which included being a healthy scratch twice in the regular season and twice in the playoffs as well as a three-game suspension imposed by the NHL resulting from an infraction against Detroit's Niklas Kronwall.

Stewart went from being a top-six forward to getting very limited minutes for Ken Hitchcock for much of the season on the third or fourth line. There didn't seem to be a fit for Stewart on many nights.

Not the way the 24-year-old Toronto native envisioned things going.

"When you do struggle a little bit, it starts to get your confidence," Stewart admitted earlier this week. "You try to change your game or over-compensate. You can't really worry about it.

"I've got to be the player that I am. I've got to do the things that made me successful this year. I've got to get back to being Chris Stewart, just be me and playing my game. I got myself into this. I'm the only one that can get myself out of it and I'll do it."

And by getting himself out of whatever was wrong this season includes a different summer workout regimen this off-season.

Stewart's fitness level was a topic of discussion this season often, with some saying that his fitness was not up to par and that he came into camp out of shape and it led to the sub-par numbers.

In a way, Stewart may have acknowledged that himself by taking a different approach to get himself ready for 2012-13 by hiring a personal trainer back home in Toronto.

"I'm going to be working with Matt Nichol, who's an established trainer in Toronto," Stewart said. "He's had some big-name guys coming out of there. I'm going to train with them for the first time in the summer and do the usual stuff, work with my track coach and really work on the speed aspect of my game, go to a nutritionist, get on a diet aspect, come into camp in good shape and get ready to go next year."

What prompted the change?

"I talked to a guy like [teammate] Jason Arnott, who really prides himself on his nutrition and who really takes care of himself," said Stewart, who often played with Arnott on a line this season. "We talked about it during the year, but at the end of the year, we sat down, talked about it and he really said if I can commit myself to the gym this summer and come back here that I can be a difference-maker next year."

Being a difference-maker is what the Blues hoped for this year but didn't come close to getting.

"I didn't come close to [the expected numbers]. That's a bummer, but I've been a team-first guy all year," Stewart said. "Just because I struggled for a good part of the season here doesn't overlook the [team] success. We did great all year. It's about sacrifices. Next year I expect to be on top of my game.
(Getty Images)
Blues winger Chris Stewart (25) worked his way back up the lineup in the
playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings.

"You can't really read into the hype or the hoopla. Everyone's entitled to write what they want. I do see myself as a goal-scorer in this league. That's something I can do. I think this year was a learning experience and a good year learning how to be a pro and what you've got to do to be successful in this league and look towards next year."

Stewart is in the same situation that teammate T.J. Oshie was in last summer, a restricted free agent possibly looking for security with a long-term contract. Oshie was given a one-year deal by general manager Doug Armstrong, who basically said Oshie had to go out and prove his worth in order to get a long-term extension. Oshie, who's a restricted free agent himself, likely will earn himself that extension with a strong, 54-point season.

Stewart is in the same boat. He could very well get a one-year, prove-yourself deal and have the motivation to go out next season and have a monster year. But anything like this past season could prompt the Blues to look elsewhere when the time presents itself.

In any light, Stewart knows that this summer will go a long way in determining his future here.

"I'm kind of excited to get into the off-season here and get a good summer under by belt and training, kind of refresh and start over and build my career back up," Stewart said. "I think this is probably the biggest summer of my career. I'm coming off my worst season offensively, so I'm going to go back to the drawing board, work on the skills and get back to the player that I was the year before."

The Blues would gladly have that physical, imposing, difference-maker back .. the one that finished the season against Los Angeles.

Blues players say goodbye sooner than expected

Tight-knit group went a long way in achieving team's success this past season

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- There were smiles and handshakes, pats on the back and so-longs. This was not a day these Blues players looked forward to after a season's worth of fighting, competing and standing together side-by-side.

Make no mistake about it, the 2011-12 St. Louis Blues had a closeness about it that is hard to find among teammates. But from the guys that played in a night in, night out basis going through wars together to the guys that were on the sidelines when the season ended Sunday in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Blues were a close-knit unit group.
(Getty Images)
Under Ken Hitchcock, the Blues soared to the Central Division title and a
postseason playoff series victory for the first time in a decade.

It's more than just X's and O's when the team was able to go 49-22-11 and rack up the second-most points in franchise history (109) this past season and win a playoff series for the first time since 2002.

"Every year I've been in St. Louis, we've had a great group of guys," said defenseman Barret Jackman, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. "In the past, we just haven't had maybe the success, but this year, you have the talent and you have the right mix.

"Every one of the guys on the team really played for each other and really cared. You look at the guys and you realize not everyone's going to be back. That's the nature of the game."

It's a part of the game -- and business side -- players have come to understand. That's why Tuesday's locker cleanout at the St. Louis Mills Ice Zone was one this group will remember.

"That's business. ... To say every single guy in this room is going to be back next year is going to be a very far stretch," said winger Chris Stewart, who becomes a restricted free agent. "This time of the year sucks. You come in, you clean out your locker, you're having meetings ... there's a lot of training staff here, too. Who knows what everyone's going to be up to next year?"

Added defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who also becomes an unrestricted free agent: "It's very tough. Unfortunately every new season brings new change. You see new faces every year and old faces come and go. That's the business of the game. That's the reality that we're faced with.

"This year, I truly mean that this is the best team I've ever played on. We had such a great group of guys. It really made it fun to go to the rink every day. Everybody had their own personality that they brought to the group, their own characteristics that they brought to the group. Some guys may never see each other again or play with each other again. You hope you create those memories that will last forever with a group like this. Unfortunately, we fell short of [the goal]."

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk agreed.
(Getty Images)
Blues players celebrate their series win over the San Jose Sharks.

"Tough. Unfortunately, that's the nature of this league and of the business," Shattenkirk said. "A lot of great guys here that have had a tremendous time. I've learned a lot from a lot of older guys. I'll always be able to draw on this year, which is nice, and be able to come back and know what it really takes to be a winning team."

The Blues had a winning team. They can only hope to build off of this past season's success. But it's a group that coach Ken Hitchcock, who came on board when the team was 6-7 on Nov. 6, enjoyed coaching.

"It's a really strong core. It's a good core," Hitchcock said. "It's a respectful, young, vibrant, excited core. I'm sure if you talk to the players, they'd like to start training camp in a week. They're excited. It's a great core. It's a great group of young guys to want to get the information. They just don't have the knowledge. They don't have it yet. You can't talk them through that stuff. They've got to go through it. So we've gone through it. Now it's on us to learn the lessons. But it's a great core. It's a hungry, wanna-get-better, really improve ... it's an exciting group to be around.

"I think it's going to be a team that can hardly wait to get to training camp. It's going to be a team that can hardly wait to get to the rink. I think you're going to see a huge difference in some of the younger players to have learned lessons this year about what it takes to win in the National Hockey League. It's a real good group."

Stillman introduced as new owner of the Blues

CEO of Summit Distributing part of 16 local
investors who purchased the team from Dave Checketts

ST. LOUIS -- The final hurdle of a long and at times agonizing saga in the sale of the Blues came to fruition Thursday morning when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman introduced Tom Stillman and a group of local partners as the new majority owners.

Stillman, who is the Chairman and CEO of Summit Distributing in St. Louis and has been a minority partner of the outgoing group led by Dave Checketts and SCP Worldwide since 1997, purchased the team for approximately $130 million.

It was a long and sometimes arduous effort to get it finalized, but Stillman, a Minneapolis native who played college hockey at Middlebury (Vt.) College, completed the sale of the team Wednesday and was formally introduced along with 15 partners as part of the ownership group. The purchase included the Blues, the lease to Scottrade Center, the team's American Hockey League affiliate Peoria Rivermen and substantial interest in the adjacent Peabody Opera House.
Tom Stillman was introduced as the eighth owner in Blues history at a
Thursday press conference.

"We think this is a monumental, historic and really terrific day for St. Louis and for the Blues," said Bettman, who referred the Blues as a member of the 'Original 12.' "We know how important St. Louis is to the NHL as a hockey market and we also know how important the Blues are to St. Louis as evidenced by the fact that there are so many active alumni from the Blues who choose to stay here and live in retirement here.

"[Stillman] bleeds bluenote blue, and he has been somebody that has been in dogged pursuit of controlling and operating and running this franchise for at least the last two or three years. ... This fulfills, I believe, a dream for the Blues and for the city of St. Louis because the future is bright, bright, bright. I know that this is somebody who is committed as anybody to running this franchise in a first class way. ... I know he won't rest until the players are hoisting the Stanley Cup."

What began as a two-year process in May 2010 with Checketts and SCP Worldwide announcing plans to sell the Blues after the primary investment group [TowerBrook Capital Partners, LP] planned to divest its interest in the team, Checketts could not come up with a comparable plan to purchase the team himself. There was also an attempt which included a potential buyer in Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer before that attempt hit a dead end.

Stillman becomes the eighth owner of the Blues since the franchise began in 1966, with their first season being 1967-68.

"To have the opportunity to lead this organization," Stillman said, "to be stewards of its present and future, is way beyond my wildest dreams. It's an honor that I take very seriously, as will the rest of our group.

"A lot of times I didn't think it was going to happen. It was something I thought and the members of our group thought was the right outcome. I said to some people if there was another strong local option, I'd have been OK with that, too. I thought it [was] best to have the Blues franchise in the hands of local owners. That's the best outcome for the Blues."

The sale of the team comes days after the Blues were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference Semifinals in a series sweep by the Los Angeles Kings that included the NHL controlling the team's finances.

Stillman, a passionate hockey fan who is known to lace up the skates often with Blues alumni brings an end to a frustrating path that loyal Blues fans have come to expect.

"These are dedicated St. Louisans who've shown long-time commitment to our community," St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said of Stillman and the new owners. "We know they will continue to lead the Blues in success in the future, and we appreciate that.

"The Blues have been a mainstay in our community for so many years. Not only are they a great and exciting team to watch on the ice, but they give back to our community in so many different ways as an organization and individually as players. We can only expect that their work and their commitment to grow and to get even stronger in the future."

TCP is a private-equity firm that had been the team's top investor since 2006 with a 70 percent stake. In December 2010, Checketts felt like that he had an investment group "95 percent" assembled to purchase the team, but in March 2011, announced that he could not reach agreement with TCP and was selling all interests.

"It has truly been an honor to have been the principal owner of the St. Louis Blues for the last six seasons," Checketts said in a statement released Thursday. "I take a tremendous amount of pride in what we have accomplished on and off the ice over that time and believe the organization is in a much better place now than when we arrived. There are no better fans in the National Hockey League than in St. Louis and I would like to thank them for their continued support, encouragement and patronage.

"... We are happy that [the Blues] are now in the hands of local ownership and wish them well. We will continue to be Blues fans and enjoy what is a promising future."

Stillman entered the picture immediately once it became known that there was an opportunity for local investors to step in and prevent any opportunity of an ownership group moving the Blues out of St. Louis, which was never an option. He signed a purchase agreement in January.

"We aim to put the Blues on solid financial footing," Stillman said. "We need to make the franchise stable and sustainable. On the ice, we're now one of the elite teams in the NHL. We're strong, talented with a mostly young core. This team accomplished a lot this year.

"On the financial side, we have work to do. It won't be easy, but with the support of fans, businesses large and small, and with everyone's help we'll get that done to assure the Blues franchise is strong and successful in St. Louis for generations to come and insure the long-term health of the St. Louis Blues."

Checketts purchased the Blues in 2006 from Bill and Nancy Laurie for $153 million. The Blues were valued at $157 million in December by Forbes Magazine, which ranked 27th among the 30 NHL franchises.

Stillman's group includes Jerald Kent, Chairman and CEO of Suddenlink Communications and Cequel III; Donn Lux, Chairman and CEO of Luxco; James Cooper, Managing Partner of Thompson Street Capital Partners; Jo Ann Taylor-Kindle, President of Enterprise Holdings Foundation; W. Stephen Maritz, Chairman and CEO of Maritz Inc.; Edward Potter, a private investor; Andrew Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Enterprise Holdings, Inc.; David Steward, Chairman of World Wide Technology, Inc.; James Kavanaugh, CEO of World Wide Technology, Inc.; John Danforth, Stillman's father-in-law and former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to the United Nations and current partner of Bryan Cave, LLP; Christopher Danforth, owner and CMO of Kennelwood Pet Resorts; James Johnson, Senior Vice President of Stifel Nicolaus and Co.; Scott McCuaig, a former President of Stifel Nicolaus and Co.; John Ross Jr., President of Summit Development Group and Thomas Schlafly, partner of Thompson Coburn ans founder of The Saint Louis Brewery.

Also, Stillman is currently in talks with former Blue and Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull to become a part of the new management team.

"I'm hopeful that Brett will be joining us in a substantive management role," Stillman said. "I'm actively talking to him. I'm hopeful that we'll work something out there."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Players that will hit the open market this
summer, plus their cap hits from the 2011-12 season

UFA: Jason Blake ($4.0), Niklas Hagman ($1.5), Rod Pelley ($550), Dan Ellis ($1.5), Ryan O'Marra ($735), Mark Bell ($575), Troy Bodie ($550), Sean Zimmerman ($525).

RFA: Iiro Tarkki ($1.325), Rick Schofield ($900), Dale Mitchell ($762.5), Mathieu Carle ($726), Kyle Cumisky ($709), Luca Caputi ($525).

UFA: Brian Rolston ($5.062), Mike Mottau ($800), Marty Turco ($600), Michel Ouellet ($525), Josh Hennessy ($600), Zach McKelvie ($600).

RFA: Jamie Arniel ($702), Stefan Chaput ($577.5), Adam Gourchaine ($519).

UFA: Jochen Hecht ($3.525), Ales Kotalik ($3), Shaone Morrisonn ($2.075), Derek Whitmore ($525), Colin Stuart ($525), Travis Turnbull ($525), Michael Ryan ($525), Drew MacIntyre ($525).

RFA: Paul Szczechura ($525), Dennis Persson ($525).

UFA: Tom Kostopoulos ($917), Scott Hannan ($1.0), Raitis Ivanans ($600), Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond ($525), Stefan Meyer ($512.5).

RFA: Akim Aliu ($846), Logan MacMillan ($1.058), Paul Byron ($555), Ryley Grantham ($533).

UFA: Jaroslav Spacek ($3.833), Roy Mathieu ($600), Justin Soryal ($525), Chris Durno ($525).

RFA: Evgenii Dadonov ($875), Justin Krueger ($850), Mike Murphy ($783), Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll ($613), Bobby Sanguinetti ($600), Kyle Lawson ($552.5), Matthew Pistilli ($522), Nicolas Blanchard ($512.5).

UFA: Andrew Brunette ($2.0), Brendan Morrison ($1.25), Sean O'Donnell ($850), Cristobal Huet ($5.625), Simon Danis-Pepin ($850), Chris DiDomenico ($678).

RFA: None.

UFA: Joakim Lindstrom ($600), Justin Mercier ($525), Evan Brophey ($525), David Liffiton ($525), Greg Mauldin ($525), Danny Richmond ($525), Patrick Rissmiller ($525).

RFA: Ryan O'Reilly ($900), Jake Newton ($900), Trevor Cann ($875), Jonas Holos ($785), Zach Cohen ($735).

UFA: Kristian Huselius ($4.75), Darryl Boyce ($700), Radek Martinek ($2.2), Brett Lebda ($700), Alexandre Giroux ($825).

RFA: Maksim Mayorov ($862.5), Jared Boll ($725), Shawn Hunwick ($525), Taylor Ellington ($875), Brent Regner ($573).

UFA: Radek Dvorak ($1.5), Brad Lukowich ($1.0), Andrew Raycroft ($650), Raymond Sawada ($600), Dan Spang ($525), Angelo Esposito ($917), Mikhail Stefanovich ($775), Michael Neal ($550), Jake Hauswirth ($545).

RFA: Jamie Benn ($822).

UFA: Tomas Holmstrom ($1.875), Ty Conklin ($750), Fabian Brunnstrom ($600), Chris Minard ($525), Doug Janik ($512.5), Jamie Johnson ($512.5).

RFA: Travis Ehrhardt ($533).

UFA: Ryan Keller ($625), Josh Green ($575), Bryan Rodney ($525).

RFA: Linus Omark ($875), Cam Barker ($2.25), Hunter Tremblay ($565), Milan Kytnar ($563).

UFA: Marco Sturm ($2.25), John Madden ($600), Mark Cullen ($600), Bill Thomas ($550).

RFA: Dmitry Kulikov ($1.325), Roman Derlyuk ($850), Michal Repik ($817), Ondrej Roman ($750), Keith Seabrook ($568), Justin Bernhardt ($518).

UFA: Scott Parse ($900), Ethan Moreau (600), Trent Hunter ($600).

RFA: Ray Kaunisto ($900), Justin Azevedo ($533).

UFA: Erik Christensen ($925), Jed Ortmeyer ($585), Kurtis Foster ($1.8), Jeff Penner ($525).

RFA: Kris Fredheim ($530), Nick Palmieri ($802), Dennis Endras ($660), Cody Almond ($643).

UFA: Mathieu Darche ($700), Chris Campoli ($1.75), Brian Willsie ($600), Joe Callahan ($550), Alex Henry ($512.5).

RFA: Gabriel Dumont ($572), Alexei Emelin ($984), P.K. Subban ($875), Mark Mitera ($1.275), Hunter Bishop ($900), Andreas Engqvist ($900), Olivier Fortier ($875), Robert Slaney ($575), Andrew Conboy ($550), Dany Masse ($532).

UFA: Andrei Kostitsyn ($3.25), Brodie Dupont ($550), Sebastien Caron ($525).

RFA: Alexander Radulov ($918.5), Teemu Laakso ($675), Atte Engren ($610), Ryan Thang ($565), Zack Stortini ($550), Ryan Flynn ($530).

UFA: Jay Pandolfo ($1.4), Mark Eaton ($2.5), Milan Jurcina ($1.6), John Grahame ($525), Trevor Gillies ($625), Trevor Frischmon ($615), Jeremy Colliton ($600).

RFA: Matt Martin ($852.5), Mikko Koskinen ($1.15), Mark Katic ($875), Yuri Alexandrov ($850), Rhett Rakhshani ($850), Yannick Riendeau ($613), Tomas Marcinko ($605), Tyler McNeely ($525), Tony Romano ($508), Justin DeBenedetto ($508).

UFA: Steve Eminger ($800), Sean Avery ($1.937), Brendan Bell ($525).

RFA: Mats Zuccarello ($1.75), Michael Del Zotto ($1.087), Lee Baldwin ($900), Pavel Valentenko ($850), Francois Bouchard ($770), Andreas Thuresson ($632.5), Sam Klassen ($550), Chris Chappell ($517).

UFA: Petr Sykora ($600), Brad Mills ($525).

RFA: Timo Pielmeier ($767), Vladimir Zharkov ($557.5), Kory Nagy ($528).

UFA: Jesse Winchester ($750), Matt Gilroy ($1.0), Alex Auld ($1.0), Mark Parrish ($650), Tom Conboy ($600), Corey Locke ($550), Francis Lessard ($550).

RFA: Nikita Filatov ($2.196), Pat Cannone ($600), Craig Schira ($545).

UFA: Blair Betts ($700), Pavel Kubina ($3.85), Johan Backlund ($800), Dan Jancevski ($525), Jason Bacashihua ($525).

RFA: Andrew Rowe ($900).

UFA: Daymond Langkow ($4.5), Kurt Sauer ($1.75), Dean Arsene ($725), Patrick O'Sullivan ($625), Marc-Antoine Pouliot ($605), Nathan Oystrick ($600), Matt Watkins ($550), Matt Beaudoin ($525).

RFA: Gilbert Brule ($925), Nick Ross ($846), Viktor Tikhonov ($827), Marc Cheverie ($8-3.5), Brett MacLean ($735), Colin Long ($700), Justin Pogge ($575), Brock Trotter $275).

UFA: Richard Park ($550), Brent Johnson ($600), Jason Williams ($600), Scott Munroe ($525), Ryan Craig ($525).

RFA: Mattias Modig ($875), Casey Pierro-Zabotel ($850), Alexandre Picard ($600), Boris Valabik ($550), Cal O'Reilly ($525).

UFA: Dominic Moore ($1.1), Brad Winchester ($725), Jim Vandermeer ($1.0), Colin White ($1), Antero Niittymaki ($2.0), Ben Guite ($525), Tony Lucia ($562.5), James Marcou ($900), Cameron MacIntyre ($600), Tyson Sexsmith ($1.005).

RFA: Nick Petrecki ($1.125), James Sheppard ($725), Tom Kennedy ($550).

UFA: Jason Arnott ($2.875), Kent Huskins ($1.0), Jonathan Cheechoo ($600).

RFA: Jori Lehtera ($875).

UFA: Ryan Shannon ($625), Brett Clark ($1.5), Mike Commodore ($1.0), Dwayne Roloson ($3.5), Jon Kalinski ($605), Alexandre Picard ($600), Scott Jackson ($550), Richard Petiot ($525).

RFA: Jaroslav Janus ($658), Sebastien Piche ($563), Mike Kostka ($525).

UFA: Jay Rosehill ($600), Jeff Finger ($3.5), Mike Zigomanis ($650), Matt Lashoff ($600).

RFA: Cody Franson ($800), Ben Scrivens ($600), Marcel Mueller ($1.112), Juraj Mikus ($563), Richard Greenop ($552).

UFA: Samuel Pahlsson ($2.65), Byron Bitz ($700), Steven Reinprecht ($2.05), Matt Climie ($525), Nolan Baumgartner ($525).

RFA: Ryan Parent ($925), Eddie Lack ($900), Viktor Oreskovich ($605), Mike Duco ($550).

UFA: Mike Knuble ($2.0), Dany Sabourin ($525), D.J. King ($637.5), Chris Bourque ($525), Zach Miskovic ($525), Jacob Micflikier ($525), Kyle Greentree ($512.5).

RFA: None.

UFA: Tim Stapleton ($525), Randy Jones ($1.15), Mark Flood ($525), Andrei Zubarev ($825), Jason Jaffray ($675), Kenndal McArdle ($600), Peter Mannino ($525).

RFA: Evander Kane ($3.1), Eric Fehr ($2.2), Spencer Machacek ($575), Fredrik Pettersson ($900), John Negrin ($792), Brett Festerling (577.5), Arturs Kulda ($575), Michael Forney ($567).