Wednesday, November 30, 2016

(11-30-16) BLUES NOTEBOOK

Steen full-time practice participant, still not known for return; Edmundson 
on cusp of being cleared; Berglund misses practice; the Blues and KC 

By LOU KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Blues forward Alexander Steen, out with an upper-body injury since Nov. 15 against Buffalo, took the first big step towards getting back into action after missing the past six games.

Steen, who was checked into the offensive zone corner boards by Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges, has skated off and on with Blues teammates for almost two weeks now, but on Tuesday at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Outlet Mall, Steen was a full-time participant for the first time.

"I don't know, I'd say day by day," Steen said when asked when he'd be ready. "It's nice to get out with the guys today and skate around, be a part of practice. That was a big positive today.

"I think it was a little more complicated than I thought it was going to be when it first happened, but I'm starting to feel a little bit better. I feel like I'm starting to turn that last little corner. Hopefully soon."

Steen has two goals and 10 points in 17 games this season.

"Today was the first time he joined us as a full-time player,  full-time practice player so it was a good sign," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Alexander Steen . "This was hopefully the final step before he's cleared to play and we'll see how long that lasts."

The Blues (13-7-3) have won five of six since Steen's departure.

"Yeah very," Steen said when asked how impressed he is of the team play. "The team has played tremendously. I think our goaltending has been superb and our fourth line has played unbelievable, like last night drawing two penalties. I feel like they're pushing the momentum up the ice and moving pucks in to the o-zone and changing at the right times to create momentum for the whole team. I like Bobo's game right now (Bortuzzo). He's been playing very well since he stepped back in. There's a lot of big positives."

Steen is questionable for the Blues' next game Thursday in the third of a five-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

* Edmundson ready to return, Berglund misses practice -- Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson, out since Nov. 6 with an upper-body (10 games) had another full practice on Tuesday with no restrictions.

"He's full practice today, too," Hitchcock said of Edmundson. "Took full contact yesterday, full contact today. 

"He's taken those steps that we've wanted him to take. I think he's ready to be evaluated to be a game day player, too."

As for center Patrik Berglund, he was the lone skater not on the ice Tuesday at the team's practice facility.

"He's on a maintenance day, we'll see," Hitchcock said of Berglund. "He's day-to-day, we'll see how he feels tomorrow, but it's very minor. After talking to the trainers, it was best to give 'Bergy' today off."

* Remedy for penalties -- When asked of the issues with penalties and taking those 200 feet away from your goal, Hitchcock said he's not talking about penalties anymore.

"We're not going to talk about that anymore. We're going to use a different approach," Hitchcock said. "It's the disease that we're not going to speak about. We're just going to go out quietly and find a cure. We're not thrilled by it, but the more we talk about it, the more it seems to manifest itself. ... It's in the DNA; that's what I said last night. It's in the DNA; we've got to get rid of it. We'll figure out a way."

* Kansas City and the Blues -- The Blues will house a new home for a new American Hockey League team, according to a source.

The Blues, who have been with the AHL's Chicago Wolves for four seasons, including the current one, will cut ties with the Wolves at the conclusion of the 2017 season and form an affiliation with a team that will be based in Kansas City owned by Lamar Hunt Jr., whose father Lamar Hunt founded the Kansas City Chiefs, and former Blues defenseman Tom Tilley.

According to the source, it's pretty much "a done deal."

The Blues have not made the plans official, but Hunt Jr., who currently owns the Missouri Mavericks of the ECHL, who will also look to bring a United States Hockey League team to play with the new AHL team at the Sprint Center, where the Blues have played multiple exhibition games in recent seasons.

Hunt Jr., who has long wanted to own an NHL franchise, is said to be someone in the not-too-distant future to buy a stake in the Blues and become part of current Blues owner Tom Stillman's group. 

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