Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Scandella excited for opportunity to compete for playoffs again

Defenseman was acquired in a trade from Montreal for pair of 
picks; familiar with St. Louis from days of playing for Minnesota

ST. LOUIS -- Marco Scandella was prepping for another game with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday when the call came.

He had a sense of what it was.
Marco Scandella

At the other end was Canadiens general manager and former Blues defenseman Marc Bergevin informing the 29-year-old Montreal native that his stay in his hometown would be brief.

Scandella would be returning to the Central Division. This time, with the Blues, who acquired the left-handed d-man for a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2021 fourth-round pick that triggers if Scandella, an unrestricted free agent July 1, resigns with the Blues by Oct. 7, 2020 or the Blues reach the Western Conference Final and Scandella plays in half the team's games.

He spent his first seven seasons with the Minnesota Wild before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres in 2017, where he spent parts of three seasons before getting traded again to the Canadiens on Jan. 2 for a 2020 fourth-round pick. 

Scandella, who has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 51 games this season, went from helping Montreal fight for survival of a sinking ship one night to first in the Western Conference the next. He was on the ice Wednesday for his first practice with the Blues, albeit a very light optional.

"I was headed to the game (Tuesday) and I got the call from Bergevin. Absolutely excited to come to St. Louis, Stanley Cup champs," Scandella said. "Just what (a) city, what (a) great organization to be a part of. Really happy about this.

"I'm not going to lie, I packed pretty heavy for the trip. I knew it was a possibility if Montreal was going to fall out of the race. We were on the road for a week. (Packed) a couple more sweaters. You never know this time of year, so you've got to be prepared. I'm in a contract year, so just prepare.

"I got to get on the ice here today, got settled in. Really happy about that."

Scandella, who coach Craig Berube said will "probably" make his Blues debut Thursday at home against the Arizona Coyotes, is the nephew of former Blues forward and Canadiens color analyst Sergio Momesso (1988-91 and 1996-97). Momesso was the first to text Scandella to tell him all about going to St. Louis. What Scandella had to be more prepared for was being on the move again with the trade deadline fast approaching (Monday at 2 p.m. CT) for the UFA-to-be.

"It's the second time I got traded this year, so I went to my hometown in Montreal and I thought maybe I was going to stay home there, but that's how it is," Scandella said. "That's the hockey world. I'm excited for the opportunity to play in the playoffs, to play with this team, a great franchise. The defending Stanley Cup champs. I just want to play my role and try to help the team win."

The Blues jumped into the defenseman sweepstakes after the cardiac episode that Jay Bouwmeester experienced on Feb. 11 that has most likely ended his season, and most likely, his career. Doug Armstrong wanted to add some more experience on the blue line and give Berube seven experienced blue liners again.

"It's real important," Berube said. "We've got seven experienced defensemen here right now, so that's a big thing. They're important to have. Hopefully injuries don't happen, but if they do, you have a guy that can step right in with experience and play.

"With 'Bouw' going down, a left-handed d-man, a penalty killer, big guy that can defend well, plays a physical game. That's basically what it is. He's got a heavy shot. We've got a lot of guys that can shoot the puck back there, which we like. We use our D a lot, we shoot a lot of pucks and he's going to be useful that way."

Scandella last participated in the playoffs was when the Blues were eliminating the Wild in four games in the Western Conference First Round. 

"A tough team, works hard," Scandella said of the Blues. "You saw last year in their Cup run. I just feel like I'm really excited to be a part of this. I've been on the other side playing against the Blues a lot, played two playoff series against this team. They're tenacious, a hard-working team. Now I bring my energy and bring my game to this team is going to be really exciting for me."

Berube hasn't decided yet who Scandella will be paired up with, but conventional wisdom believes he will slide into Bouwmeester's spot alongside Colton Parayko.

"That could be an option for sure getting him in that area and that spot and getting that shutdown role," Berube said. "... I think he was used in different roles in Buffalo. We'll talk more about his role here today and tell him what we want and go from there.

"He plays a lot of similar style of hockey that we play in this division. He knows this division really well. He played maybe his best hockey then in Minny."

Scandella was a teammate of Ryan O'Reilly's in Buffalo in 2017-18 and played with Brayden Schenn, Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen for Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championships.

"Glad to have him aboard," Allen said. "He's going to fill that left side that we need. Obviously it's tough to replace Bouw, but he's an experienced guy. A big, strong, lanky guy that can play in our top four, play PK and give us some solid minutes.

"He's simple. Everyone's a puck-moving defenseman nowadays. That term's overused, but he plays simple, he plays hard, he's an honest player, blocks a lot of shots. He's got a big shot back there, which is key in today's game. You need guys from the point that can rip it."

Scandella now will hope to be a complementary piece to help the Blues reach the maximum goal again this year, and it will help reinvigorate the competitive juice.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Marco Scandella skated with his new teammates for the
first time Wednesday after being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens.

"I feel like there's a lot of potential in this locker room. You saw what happened last year. I want to be a part of that this year.

"I know what I have to do to be successful. Just play a really good defensive game, help with the PK. I'm going to do whatever I'm asked of to do here and just do it with a smile on my face. I'm just happy to be here, be back in the Central and playing for the for the St. Louis Blues."

As far as the summer is concerned, that's for another time and place.

"I haven't even thought about it once honestly," Scandella said. "Just day-to-day. Happy for the opportunity here. All I want to do is play hockey and have fun."

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