Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Former owner Shanahan passed away; Schwartz starts skating; 
Pietrangelo, Schenn pleased with All-Star selections; Blues back from break

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Former Blues owner Mike Shanahan, who owned the franchise from 1986-1991, died on Monday. He was 78.

The cause of death was not announced, but Shanahan recently had a double lung transplant.

He purchased the team in 1996 from Harry Ornest and became the fourth owner of the franchise after Ornest, poineer owners Sid Salomon Jr. and Sid Salomon III and the Ralston Purina company.

Shanahan is best known as a passionate and compassionate person who made some shrewd and some high-risk moves during his time as owner trying to bring a Stanley Cup to St. Louis. He helped bring general manager Ron Caron to St. Louis, who in turn traded for one of the greatest, if not the greatest player to ever don the Bluenote Brett Hull, brought Hall of Famer Al MacInnis to St. Louis among others.

"The St. Louis Blues organization is saddened to learn of the passing of former Blues chairman Mike Shanahan," current Blues chairman Tom Stillman said in a statement. "Mr. Shanahan set a shining example of leadership both on and off the ice. He captivated Blues fans and made an immeasurable impact on the organization. He will forever be remembered for his passion for the Blues, his engaging personality and his acquisition of Brett Hull. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Shanahan family, and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time."

Shanahan was deeply revered by those who worked for him and the players that played for him.

"Mr. Shanahan was a very special man," Hull said on his Twitter account. "I looked up to and respected Mr. Shanahan in all aspects of life. He made people better and I know I am better having known him."

"Mr. Shanahan brought me to St. Louis and I will forever be grateful to him," MacInnis said on his Twitter account. "We have made STL our home and raised our kids here all because of his approval. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Shanahan family at this time." #RIP

Shanahan was a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and St. Louis University Hall of Fame and starred in soccer for the Billikens and their national championship teams in 1959 and 1960; he was president of Engineered Support Systems Inc. He was asked by then Mayor Vincent Schoemehl Jr. if he would have interest in purchasing the Blues and providing local ownership.

Shanahan would sell the franchise to Kiel Center Partners, Inc. in 1991 and remained chairman through the 1994-95 season before being dismissed.

"This is a sad day for St. Louis," Blues broadcaster and Hall of Famer Bernie Federko said in a statement. "Mr. Shanahan had that incredible personality that touched everyone he ever met. It was under his ownership that the Blues reconnected with all our great fans.

"I feel blessed that I had the chance to call him a friend and to play under his leadership. He will dearly be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Shanahan family."

* Schwartz returns to ice -- That No. 17 helmet was a familiar, and welcomed sight, for the Blues and their fans Monday.

Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz skated for the first time at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Mills Outlet Mall after he sustained a right ankle injury on Dec. 9 against the Detroit Red Wings.

Schwartz, who is third on the Blues with 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists), has missed 16 games and was originally scheduled to be re-evaluated in six weeks.

He blocked a shot from Red Wings defenseman Mike Green during the second period of a 6-1 victory and did not return. 

"It's another positive; happy about that," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "We'll see how he's doing here but certainly happy to have him back."

Yeo did not want to speculate on a potential return date for Schwartz, who did not travel with the Blues (26-17-3) for their two-game trip starting Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs after being off for six days.

Schwartz removed the walking boot and crutches he was using two weeks ago.

"Let's just see how he does here today and we'll kind of evaluate it as we go on here day by day," Yeo said. "The first thing we have to do here today is get him on the ice and see how he reacts to that and then depending obviously on how today goes and the next couple days, we'll have a better idea."

The Blues were 20-8-2 with Schwartz in the lineup, averaged 3.67 goals per game and allowed 2.53. They are 6-9-1 without him, their goals per game dipped to 2.06 and they're allowing 2.88.

"I don't know the time frame obviously, but just getting [Schwartz] on the ice is a good step in the right direction," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said.

Blues center Brayden Schenn is eyeing Schwartz's return. Schenn had 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) playing on a line with Schwartz in 30 games, eight points (two goals, six assists) in 16 games without him.

"He was having a great year, doing it all for us at both ends of the ice and making stuff happen," Schenn said.

* Pietrangelo, Schenn pleased to be all-stars -- Both Pietrangelo and Schenn will be making their All-Star debuts when the NHL's annual extravaganza takes place on the last weekend of January, this season being at Amalie Arena in Tampa the weekend of Jan. 26-28. The game itself will be on the 28th.

Schenn is tied with Vladimir Tarasenko, who was not selected to represent the Central Division after being an All-Star the past three seasons, with 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists).

It's been quite the first season for Schenn, acquired by the Blues from the Philadelphia Flyers in a draft day trade on June 23.

"It's obviously a huge honor," Schenn said. "Starting with a great opportunity here Since Day 1 with obviously getting traded here and a (new) coaching staff, playing with good players along the whole way and playing a lot of minutes. Without the help of a lot of people, that's obviously not possible.

"It's not an easy thing to be selected for. There's a lot of great players in this league. It's a huge honor being selected. There's guys in this locker room that are definitely capable of going for sure. I'm just thankful and happy I got picked."

Pietrangelo will also be an All-Star for the first time in his 10-year career, much to the surprise of Yeo.

"I was actually really surprised to hear that that was 'Petro's first time," Yeo said. "Very happy and very deserving. A great accomplishment and both are real good team guys. You're always happy for those types of players."

Pietrangelo, playing in his eighth full season, leads all Blues defensemen in goals (7), assists (23) and points (30).

"I take that as a compliment," Pietrangelo said referring to Yeo's comment. "It's cool. I think it's 'Schenner's first one, too, so it's a good experience. It's going to be fun. I think after having played in the World Cup, Olympics, you get to know a lot of the guys in the league, too. It's a good opportunity to see those guys again. I heard it's a great event, so we're looking forward to it.

"It's going to be fun. It's obviously a huge honor. 'Schenner' probably said the same thing, but it's a good opportunity. It's in Tampa, too, get a little sun maybe and enjoy it. Not many people get the opportunity to do it. I'll make sure I enjoy it. ... It's one of those things where you look at this stuff on the wall (names of past Blues players) and it's nice to see that. It makes you feel good. I guess it's an accomplishment like anything. I know 'Schenner' feels the same way."

* Back to work -- After a five-day break, the Blues were back on the ice Monday in preparation for a five-game stretch that will take them into another four-day break for All-Star weekend.

After taking on Toronto Tuesday, the Blues are off to Ottawa for a date with the Senators on Thursday before beginning a four-game homestand to end January.

"It's a good week to kind of get your mind off things and reset. It came at a good time," Pietrangelo said. "We've played a lot of hockey and I think you just reset. We look back on what we can do better as a team. I know guys wanted to clear their mind the best they could. I know for me, a day or two and then I just tried to enjoy the week with my wife and my family. We've got to get back to playing aggressive. We've got to get back to playing on our toes around here. That's when we're at our best."

It was even a good time for coaches to get away, especially after the Blues ended the pre-break schedule with three straight losses and allowed 17 goals.

"It was a good break," Yeo said. "We've got five games here before another break, so a good opportunity for us to kind of focus on these five games and make sure that we play five real strong team games.

"The only way that you can make sure that that happens, that you play five good games is that we prepare for that one game tomorrow and after that, you hit the reset button and you get ready for the next one, but I think putting it on a short focus here is not a bad idea for us.

"The work ethic was there (Monday), the energy was there and obviously getting into the game tomorrow is going to be a different story, a different level, so we'll have to adjust to that."

Yeo didn't announce his starting goaltender for Tuesday, but it very well could be Carter Hutton, who has played stellar hockey all season long.

Jake Allen is 1-8-0 with a 3.39 goals-against average and .896 save percentage, but the Blues' No. 1 goalie isn't sweating those recent numbers despite allowing five goals in each of his past two starts and 28 the past nine games.

"It was good, a good break, good to get away from all these losers," Allen joked. "But no, I think it was good for everyone. It's something that we got implemented in the league so you might as well enjoy it. Every team gets to have the same break and it was good to get away.

"We had a meeting this morning and I don't think a lot of guys even remembered who we played last, which is, I think, a good thing. You don't think about hockey. It's easier said than done. Keeps in your brain because it's your life, but just to get away and not worry about that stuff. We have five games until we have another break, so pedal to the metal for these five games, have another break and then go from there, so I think that's our focus right now. We don't think of anything ahead, standings. We just have five games until another break and might as well go all out.

"I am, really looking forward to (playing again). I felt like a lot of us had a lot of jump, including myself today. Everyone's really excited to be back at the rink and that's what the break does. You're always happy to be back at the rink, but it gives you that extra gear now. You're back and you're in your routine."

Part of getting back in the saddle as a team is the Blues have to get back to their staple, and that's being a tough two-man team in goal and playing a lockdown defensive game after starting to find some of their offensive game.

The Blues allowed 2.56 goals per game when Schwartz was in the lineup, 2.88 since he's departed it.

"It goes hand in hand where I think sometimes we're worrying too much about the defensive game, we're not controlling the puck enough in the o-zone," Pietrangelo said. "I always say it's tough for the other team to score when they're in their own zone. I feel like when we're at our best defensively, we're at our best offensively controlling the puck, controlling the pace of the game whereas now, I think we're sitting back a little bit. When we're on our toes being aggressive, that's when we seem to have the most success."

"For us to go away for four or five days came at a good time for us," Schenn said. "We weren't playing our style of hockey, we were getting a little bit stale and those were resulting in losses. We don't play an easy game, we play a hard game and we got away from that a little bit and that resulted in a 7-4 loss at home. Hopefully (the break) came at a right time for us and we can get back on track here before the all-star break.

"Guys step away from the rink and refresh their minds. ... Maybe for us, we step away, regroup, refocus."

Yeo said the defensive gaffes are fixable mistakes and ones that will get the Blues (26-17-3) going again.

"I know that they're fixable and we'll get back to it," Yeo said. "We have to make sure that we get back to our identity and do our team game. That's a staple of who we are and that's what we have to be night after night.

"We have to make sure we don't sacrifice the one for the other. When we're on top of our game defensively, it actually creates more offense for us, it creates more puck possession time for us. We just have to make sure we have the right mindset shift after shift, game after game. There's going to be some games things don't go your way, but that doesn't mean that you can't change or even if things aren't going the right way through the first period, you can't change. We have a way to play the game and we have to do it shift after shift and game after game. When we do that consistently, when we do that night after night, then the results will follow.

"It's important that we have that mindset and we understand that right from the drop of the puck and play the game accordingly. We have to come out and be aggressive in the game, but we have to be smart in how we attack it as well. They're going to be in the same boat as us. Both teams are coming off their bye week, both teams are going to have to adjust and the teams that adjust to the pace and to the level of the play quickest are going to have a leg up."

* Dunn, Thompson, Barbashev recalled -- The Blues, to no one's surprise, recalled defenseman Vince Dunn and forwards Tage Thompson and Ivan Barbashev from the American Hockey League.

Dunn and Barbashev were assigned to the Chicago Wolves, while Thompson, who was given the day off Monday after playing on Sunday, was assigned to the San Antonio Rampage.

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