NHL

What die-hards about Blues returning to David Perron got right (and wrong)

What die-hards about Blues returning to David Perron got right (and wrong)

Sports columnists Jeff Gordon and Ben Frederickson share their takeaways from the St. Louis eight-game losing streak. Louis Blues and see what could happen if this turns into a truly lost season.

Ben Frederickson
,

Jeff Gordon
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Chris Drury


Members of the media guessed first and then second guessed; I guess that makes this a third guess?

Even Blues manager Craig Berube made a case, when the Blues were navigating last season’s playoff push.

Remember what the boss said about pending free agent David Perron back then?

“He’s a very competitive guy,” Berube said of Perron, perhaps hoping Blues general manager Doug Armstrong would listen. “I would say his competitiveness is up there with anybody, for sure. Just when you look at him with pucks and stuff, how competitive he is, one-on-one with the puck, there’s not a lot better to be honest with you. He’s a person very competitive. She wants to do well. She wants the team to do well. More than anything about David, that’s what I get from him. A highly competitive person.”

And yes, the competitiveness was contagious.

“Guys look up to people,” Berube added during the final postseason comments. “Players look at individuals, whether it’s in practice or in games, how they carry themselves, what they do, their work ethic, all those things. I think it rubs off.”

But Armstrong didn’t budge.

Often praised for his cold, calculated approach to roster building, Armstrong turned the page on the beloved Blue, letting Perron take the free-agent route to Detroit on a perfectly reasonable two-year, $9.5 million deal. dollars that the Blues could have matched had they tied. prioritized Perron over, say, defenseman Nick Leddy.

Now Perron is producing for the Red Wings, which should come as no surprise. The 34-year-old was fourth on his new team in points as of Friday morning. He hadn’t gone more than five games without a goal and had multiple power-play goals and assists.

Meanwhile, the Blues are hoping that their scheduled home win against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night will be the start of a climb back from a horrific eight-game losing streak.

Would the Blues be in better shape with Perron?

It’s pretty easy to say yes.

Would they be so much better that they wouldn’t be on the cusp of a losing season before Thanksgiving?

This is more difficult to prove.

Perron was the power ace of the blues; the Blues so far this season are producing a power play percentage in the middle of the pack of 22.6 percent compared to 26.5 percent last season.

Perron took out top linemate and Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly, who has had a rough start to the season. O’Reilly was an 11-plus player last season despite a long road back from a nagging case of COVID. So far this season he has a minus-12.

Perron is the kind of player who would have been willing to go for a hat trick during an eight-game losing streak to break the skid, or blast an opponent with a nasty elbow to ignite a spark, or has found another way to inject one. energy in an effort that was expected to reach its worst before Thursday’s victory.

And Perron was always the player, remember, who not only refused to count out the Blues when things looked grim, but did so in a way that made even the biggest cynics want to believe. Scoff if you want. These things are important.

I’m afraid Armstrong didn’t properly account for Perron’s heart in his offseason calculations. He sent a mixed message to the locker room by letting Perron walk on a modest deal while signing talented but not yet fully proven young forwards Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas to long stretches. Those bets might look wise in the end, but there will clearly be some growing pains along the way, as evidenced by the corner the Blues have been quickly backed into.

This offseason, the Blues could have pulled off a stunning trade for Matthew Tkachuk. They could have slowly played Thomas and Kyrou’s extensions until more was proven. If the losing resume resumes, the parade of could-haves, should-haves, should-haves will continue. For me, the biggest is Perron. Finding a way to return it was possible. It would have made life easier for a team trying to thread the needle on sustained contention.

The easy joke when a bemused Perron left was that maybe the Blues could end up trading for him at the deadline as a playoff boost for the team. After all, the Blues and Perron have always found a way back. No one is wondering now what trades the Blues could make to boost their postseason chances. There has been a lot more talk about which parts of the squad the Blues could end up selling if this group can’t get out for good.

Perron does not enter through this door. Someone else will have to start replicating his production and presence. His strengths were appreciated by many, but somehow undervalued in the calculus that determined the chemistry of this team.

It doesn’t feel right to tell you so in a place like this, and even Perron’s biggest supporters have to accept an icy truth.

If his departure alone was the change that sent the Blues spiraling, this edition of the Blues was destined for nothing bigger or better than a clumsy transition year.



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