Looming injured players' potential return, Peoria call-ups
enough for Armstrong to not offer veteran center a contract
By LOUIE KORAC
After all was said and done in the end, the Blues and Jason Arnott will not consummate a contract after all.
The 38-year-old veteran was with the team last year and who accompanied the them on its five-game trip but after consideration, it was decided that a contract would not be what the Blues need at this point in time.
And the main reason appears to be that the Blues will be getting healthier in the very near future with a pair of veterans, Andy McDonald (left knee) and Alex Steen (upper-body).
"When we brought Jason in here, we wanted to see where he was," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "To his credit, he looks like he's in great shape. He had a good practice week here. But with the information that we've gained, Andy and Alex look like they're going to return sooner than we maybe first expected."
Arnott, who scored 17 goals and added 17 assists and was a veteran presence the Blues certainly benefited from during last year's 109-point climb, seemed to slowly break down as the season was near the end and into the playoffs, but that was because of injuries.
Arnott had shoulder and then a knee issue that required surgery, but his marriage with the Blues a season ago didn't end well when he was scratched from the last two playoff games against Los Angeles, which wound up sweeping the Blues in the second round. But Arnott, who garnered some interest with the New York Rangers a few weeks ago, has been living in Dallas and met with coach Ken Hitchcock to iron some issues from a season ago.
The Blues decided they'd allow Arnott to practice with the team this week but in the end, they feel like they can make it with what they have along with the importance of adding not only McDonald and Steen but also rookie Vladimir Tarasenko (concussion) in the not-too-distant future. Add the fact Peoria recalls Chris Porter, Adam Cracknell and Andrew Murray have filled in nicely, it cemented the team's decision to move on.
"With that information and the understanding that we're now carrying three goaltenders and not two, I saw a potential issue with the 23-man roster," Armstrong said. "And once I added all those things to the equation, I let Jason know.
"We're hoping to get players back, but we're playing four games between now and next Saturday. You hope nothing happens. But in this environment, I try not to worry about too much into the future. You just sort of deal with it the day of, when you have to make those decisions."
Both McDonald and Steen were injured in practice literally seconds apart, and although McDonald's sounded worse than first feared, he made the trip with the team and could return at any time, although his injury is still considered week to week.
"Skating by yourself is different than skating with the team," Armstrong said of McDonald. "In talking to Andy, we told him this was an injury that he'll let us know when he's ready and we're not going to rush him back, or Alex, or Vladi for that matter."
Steen, who led the Blues with 16 points (12 assists) before his injury, was left behind from the trip and allowed to condition on his own at the team's practice facility, which he's done so. His injury was originally considered day to day.
"Alex has taken some time and he feels better," Armstrong said. "He's on the ice now. Again, we're working under the assumption that he's getting stronger.
"Time is on our side after the homestand," Armstrong said. "So if we get him on the homestand, to me, that's a bonus. If not, it doesn't look like it'll be much past the homestand."
Tatasenko, who has missed eight games (including Sunday night's at Anaheim) after being leveled by a hit in a game at Colorado Feb. 21, is the wildcard. Hitchcock indicated before the team left that Tarasenko
However, Armstrong elects to be cautious when it comes to concussed players, which the Blues have had plenty of experience with in recent history.
"I don't talk too much about concussions, but it's not about skating," Armstrong said. "There's a lot of things. Not to be evasive, but I don't understand (concussions), so I just leave those to the medical experts. To me a concussion really is day to day until he tells us different.
"Whether (Tarasenko) plays on this homestand, or he plays in the next two weeks, three weeks, the next month ... we hope to get him back as quick as we can. You're only creating false hope to your fans by putting a timetable on something that there isn't a timetable."