Friday, September 12, 2014

Stastny joins new teammates on the ice

Team's marquee free agent signing gets 
a one-week jump on opening of training camp

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Paul Stastny lived in St. Louis long enough growing up that he should remember what midwest conditions are like.

Apparently, he forgot.

Despite the cooler temperatures the past few days, there never seems to be a shortage of heavy air, which Stastny was sucking in during his first skate with his new teammates Friday at the Ice Zone at St. Louis Outlet Mall.

"I was a little tired. ... I forgot how humid it is here, especially early in the season and late in the season," Stastny said afterwards. "It's fun. It's good to be back out here, especially one time before the weekend. Now I'll get the next couple days ... I'll see some guys at the fantasy camp (Friday night) and a couple days for the wife and I to get more house furnishing done, bare essentials and then Monday, get right back to work leading up to camp."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Paul Stastny (second from left) took part in his first informal skate with his
new Blues teammates Friday at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Outlet Mall.

Stastny was joined on the ice for the first time by two more newcomers to the Blues' roster: Peter Mueller and Joakim Lindstrom, who are both trying to make a roster crowded with talent and depth.

But for the 28-year-old Stastny, who left the Colorado Avalanche after eight years as an unrestricted free agent to join the Central Division rival Blues when he signed a four-year, $28 million contract, getting a leg up before camp opens Sept. 19 helps the process.

"Absolutely. Just get to know the guys on the ice especially," Stastny said. "I think for me and the new guys, I think a couple days around the locker room, around the trainers, around the equipment managers and the coaches and players to just kind of get used to it a little bit. When everything starts Thursday, you're not surprised with anything. I think you've seen a lot of guys do that in the past on different teams. ... It's a new team, new guys and you want to get here just to feel as comfortable as you can as early as possible.

"I'm just trying to get comfortable out there. Older guys kind of skate later in the summer. You're trying to peak for the first day of the season, not for training camp and you want to peak for playoffs obviously. There's more important times of the year. For me, it's kind of getting used to it, get comfortable with myself first and foremost, get comfortable with the puck, the compete level and then kind of finding different players I'm comfortable with when it comes to playing offense or the defensemen I'll be playing with."

It's been a busy summer for Stastny, who recently got married and went to Slovakia to be part of the tribute and charity event for former Blue Pavol Demitra. Now comes the reason the Blues brought him here: to help with the growth process and help this franchise move further along than just qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first step involves developing chemistry.

"There's so many good players and I think you know so many players," Stastny said. "Whether it's playing with guys from USA or playing against guys that are international or playing against guys in the summer, you know what they bring to the table. You're excited to get things going, especially with these guys.

"Getting married was the most important thing, and that went well. Everything after that's a lot easier. It's been a busy summer."

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