ST. LOUIS -- Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk scored a career-high 14 goals during the regular season this past year.
Shattenkirk just completed his sixth season with the Blues and in the NHL since the Colorado Avalanche traded him here in 2011.
Shattenkirk, 27, has one-year remaining on a contract that started in 2013. He talks about the season that just ended with a trip to the Western Conference Final, a playoff in which he led all Blues defenseman with 11 points (two goals, nine assists in 20 games), what the Blues could look like moving forward and his desire to remain in St. Louis:
|Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk|
I think so. I think Hitch mentioned that it was a weird coming here (last Saturday) and we're not playing hockey again. But I think when we look at it and everyone looks at their calendars today and we realize how far we made it, we're proud of our accomplishments. We know there's still a ways to go, but I think it was good for us to see even making it past the second round, just how much harder it gets after that. We're going to be better off for it.
Is it what makes it more disappointing with how close you came to getting there?
Yeah, I think so, and I think the series could have gone any which way. It was such a close series. I know some of the scores didn't show that, but it was just whatever team seemed to establish the game and it was the same type of game, seemed to win. They were just able to beat us at that game a little better and I think it's tough because we were right there, and if we were able to edge them out, pushed them out a little more, we wouldn't be here today.
When you look back now, was it a successful season?
I think the regular season was definitely successful. I think the way that we were able to deal with the adversity that was thrown at us through the injuries and coming back from a postseason like last year, we had such a disappointing first round, the way that we responded was great as a team. Playoffs, it's not a full success unless you win the Stanley Cup. I think that's the belief in this locker room that everyone shares. I think it was a great experience to go this far and be able to learn some more. I'm a guy who hasn't been this far before and there's plenty of us in this room who have never been this far. It's another learning experience and for our young guys to go through this this early, you know the teams in the past that have won a lot, they have young guys who get to experience playoff hockey but for them to go this far, I think it's only going to be an advantage for us going forward.
Do you wonder who's going to be on the bench coaching next year?
(Asked before Blues announced Hitchcock's one-year extension):
That's completely out of our hands. It's obviously something that you think about, but you never know what's going to happen. I know last summer was a big decision and when it was made, in the media, there was a lot of controversy around the pick, but he's shown time and time again that he can coach great teams. Here we are; we lose in the third round, but it was another step forward.
Hope that Backes is back?
It would be very strange not to see him here. A similar situation to Barret Jackman last year, just a guy who's been a fixture on this team for so long. A big part of this locker room and the whole St. Louis community. It's out of our hands. He's someone we all value here and love as a teammate and only wish that he gets to come back.
Have you been part of a closer group than the one you guys had here this year?
No, I don't think so. This was one of the best teams that I've ever played with to a man. I think we really enjoyed each other's company this year. On and off the ice, we were tight. That was something that was never in question with this team, the team dynamic. I think that was for me and I think for everyone the most enjoyable part of this season.
Is that what makes this tough because as you see it, this roster won't be the same?
Yeah, absolutely, and that's what you have to deal with every year, whether you win the Stanley Cup or you don't. That's something that you have to stomach in this business, but again, it's something where I think we're all happy we got to share this experience together.
Can Hitch still press the right buttons?
He has the passion for it. I think there's no doubt about that. I don't think there's anyone in the game of hockey that loves the game more than him and pours as much into it. I didn't see any difference this year or any reason this year why that would be any sort of issue.
On getting support from fans:
It was great. I think with how the past three seasons have gone, I think it would have been easy for fans to have some skepticism and really not fully buy into the playoffs this year. We really enjoyed how much they supported us and we know once we got out of the first series that everyone could take a deep breath. I know they felt the same way. All the way up to the last game, it was tremendous support and year after year, as a player, it humbles you and makes you appreciate that you get to play in such a great city.
With the team in a bind as far as the cap is concerned, do you expect to be back?
Absolutely. I love it here, but that's out of my hands.