Forward challenges Avs forward for hit on Faulk last season during playoffs,
scores goal in 5-3 Blues win in season opener in display of leadership
By LOU KORAC
There was a thought in the back of one's mind that someone may very well step up and ask Colorado's Nazem Kadri to answer the bell.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues forward Brayden Schenn (left) lays a hit on Avalanche defenseman
Ryan Murray during Saturday's 5-3 Blues win in the season opener.
After all, it was Kadri's hit on Justin Faulk that knocked the Blues defenseman out of the first-round playoff series in Game 2 last season with a bad hit, one that got Kadri suspended for eight games.
Schenn and the Blues didn't like it then, and if you know hockey players, and if you know guys that play especially with that old-school mentality, there would be no forgetting about it.
And so when Schenn dropped the mitts with Kadri 40 seconds into Saturday's 5-3 Blues win over the Colorado Avalanche in the Blues' season-opener, it set the tone for the game, it set the tone for how Schenn would play and garner him even more respect from his teammates and it closed the book on that particular incident.
And when Faulk scored not too long after, at 4:12 of the the first period to be exact, and give the Blues their first goal of the 2021-22 season, there had to be some sense of satisfaction for the veteran d-man as well, who missed the rest of the playoff series and probably some more time had the Blues advanced then.
"Schenn's obviously a great teammate," Faulk said. "He fits the mold exactly what you want as a teammate. You couldn't ask anything more from him day in and day out. There's a reason he's a leader on this team. Those things aren't asked of people, but he's the type of guy that will do that and take care of his teammates.
"I guess it was a little bit of a blessing for me, selfishly, personally, that I didn't have to try and rush back for games because it didn't click right away, but it also wasn't super long. I don't know how long I would have been out, but I don't think it would have been the whole playoffs by any means."
Faulk did the same last season when Tyler Bozak got blindsided in a game in Vegas by Mark Stone. Faulk challenged Stone for that play, so these guys know what to do and when to do it, and certainly, it's no surprise it was Schenn to answered the bell in that moment.
"It's pretty cool to see obviously, a guy that's always ready to step up for his teammates," said Blues winger David Perron, who scored twice Saturday. "That had a lot to do I'm sure with what happened a few months ago, but it's incredible. He's a great team player for us. He finds a way to contribute in different ways and it's great to have him on our team."
Schenn served out his five minutes and received stick taps from his teammates upon returning to the bench. Imagine what Jake Neighbours was thinking at the time.
Neighbours was making his NHL debut at 19 years of age and has stayed at Schenn's house to get himself acclimated to adult live away from the comforts of home in Calgary, Alberta, so imagine Neighbours seeing Schenn do such a thing. It probably makes him, especially, feel even more gratitude and respect.
"I've obviously thought about it over the past little while," Schenn said. "Faulker's a helluva teammate, takes care of everyone and we've seen him stick up for guys before like he did for Bozak last year in Vegas. I'm not really looking for any credit. It's part of the game. This is what this culture is kind of built on. Guys before me have done it and it needs to continue in our locker room. It's really just part of the game, that's all.
"You know what, I've known (Kadri) for a long time. He's a heck of a guy. He's obviously a hard-nosed player, obviously accident on the hit there. Things happen fast out there and I'm sure he would not want to make that hit again. Things happen and he's a stand-up guy for stepping up. He plays hard, on the line and on the edge and just kind of respect him for dropping the gloves after a four-month break."
Schenn even scored on the night himself, a goal in which came after he apparently injured a finger on a play moments before, another sign of the hard-nosed edge he plays with while doing what it takes for the team.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues forward Brayden Schenn (10) answered the bell Saturday in a fight
against Nazem Kadri and the Colorado Avalanche.
"I'm fine. I'm good," Schenn said smiling. "I'll be fine for next game and practice and all that. Don't even need to talk about that."
One guy who understands the code, as such, is Blues coach Craig Berube, who in his 1,054-game regular-season NHL career, amassed 3,149 penalty minutes doing the very same thing Schenn did on Saturday.
"These guys care about each other and (it's a) pretty close team here, so these guys, they just take care of that stuff themselves," Berube said. "But it's great to see. The care is there for your teammate."