As one of the veteran guys on the team, Blues center Paul Stastny has a voice in the locker room that resonates as much as anyone.
Stastny completed his third Blues season and was part of a makeover that included a mid-season coaching change and helping incorporate an influx of younger players into a lineup that was to be considered a transition year for the Blues.
Stastny, who sustained a broken foot in March and returned in Game 5 to help the Blues eliminate the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, talks about returning to the lineup, his reflection on the season, on making something good out of a situation of losing veterans after a Western Conference Final run and a variety of other topics:
With the time that you missed, how are you now?
I'm alright. I'll get there. You obviously come back and feel good, but there's always little things that you're going to feel throughout. But I think a couple of weeks just being away from the ice not being in a boot will kind of clear all that stuff up.
How do you reflect after a couple days to think about the ending?
It's still a tough pill to swallow. The whole playoffs, every game's a coin flip. One day, you get a little luck, one day you don't. It's just that tough and I think when you're out of it, the next day you wake up, you're almost kind of lost because you have that same routine all the time. Hopefully we can use that motivation to kind of go into the summer and know next year, we'll have a fresh start with a fresh coaching staff and kind of use that motivation from this year to next year but like I said every year, I think every summer, you've got to go in here and plan on getting better just because ext year's going to have a lot more teams battling and in this cap kind of era, it just gets tougher and tougher and it's a lot more balanced throughout the league.
From the players you lost and what you were able to accomplish, can you be proud of what you were able to do this year?
Yeah, absolutely. That's just part of the nature of the business sometimes and it kind of happens. There's always turnover throughout a team, whether it's big players or small players. It's always going to affect the guys and that's how it is. The more you win, there's obviously less turnover. Even the more you win, everyone's having better years so that just tends to happen, but it was kind of an up-and-down year and I thought we did a good job of kind of coming together. Obviously 'Yeozy' (Mike Yeo) came in and helped out and right before we had that long stretch where we were on the road and played seven in 10 days and that's where we really came together as a team.
How do you explain what happened to the power play in the postseason?
I think it was stagnant, I think there were a couple things that you can work on, might change in the summer and watch what other teams do, but I think there were nights where we kind of took it for granted and just weren't quick enough. A lot of times, we'd just hold onto it, holding onto it for an extra second before we move the puck and then we're kind of too predictable where the puck was going to go and what the next move was going to be.
How should we remember this team? What's the legacy of this team?
I don't think I ever take a legacy from any year. I think you have a good group of guys here and you have a lot of guys that are going to be back that want to play for each other, that want to win for each other and I think that's the culture that we've built around here and I think that's the goal we want to keep moving forward with.
How much has it sped the changeover from Hitchcock to Yeo since Yeo got his feet wet sooner than expected?
I think that's good. I think you have a feeling of what to expect next year. I think the systems will be a big difference and I think we know his systems or we know what he's going to play that worked for us. I think right when he came in, he changed a few things and we became better defensively and we started giving up less and started playing more as a unit of five instead of as individuals. We know that we can be successful. We've just got to build on that.
Is it reassuring knowing the young guys can contribute?
Absolutely, and I think all those guys, they're so young that every summer they grow into their bodies and get more and more comfortable. For them just to get 10, 15, 20 games and some playoff games, they know how much harder it is and how much more work they have to put in. I think it's promising for those guys for the future for sure.
Is it a good feeling knowing this roster will not change much as opposed to what you lost last season?
Yeah, when you have a good team ... you obviously always want to keep the roster, especially when you know you have a good group of guys that played for each other, that played well together, but like I said, with the expansion draft, the summer, there's always going to be turnover no matter what. We've got to be ready to lose some guys, whether it's young guys, older guys. They'll find guys within the system that they'll pull up, they'll fit right in. When you look at new guys, with this culture, this team always does a good job in embracing whoever comes in makes them feel at home right away.
What are your thoughts on Jake Allen and the turnaround he had?
He was hot, but I think that's how good of a goalie he is. I think we expect that out of him, not the games where we expect to give up 50 shots and he makes those saves that's unbelievable. I think he had that stretch early in the season where he was just in a funk a little bit. It's a mental game and then when you're getting pulled after every goal, how are you supposed to get better? How are you supposed to battle through? So sometimes that's kind of tough, but I think he's old enough, I think he's experienced enough where everyone goes through those things a little bit and we knew throughout the year that he was going to bounce back from it. Both him and 'Hutts' (Carter Hutton) were unbelievable for us the last two months of the season basically. They stole some games, but other than that, they made some big saves that we counted on them to make and from there, our confidence went up even more.
Thoughts on getting Robby Fabbri back next year?
You don't think about it during the playoffs and I think after you look back, you kind of look at that, but obviously he's a pure scorer. He helps out the power play. He's excited to get back. I think he's still a work in progress, but I think he's had a long time to get ready and I think he's as motivated as anyone.