Alex Pietrangelo completed his first season as Blues captain, and the 22nd in franchise history.
There were trials and tribulations during the defenseman's first season wearing the 'C,' but one that proved to be vital in his continued growth as a leader moving forward.
Pietrangelo was once again the Blues' leader in ice time per game (25:16) and eighth in the NHL. He breaks down the season, what the first year as captain was like for him and moving the Blues into the future along with an addition to the family:
How do you reflect on season?
It still stings. I think a couple days of reflection, you've got to be proud of the point that we got to. I bet you halfway through the season not many people thought we'd be where we are, you know today, having this conversation. So, obviously still disappointing. The ultimate goal was obviously to win the Stanley Cup and to watch somebody else do it this year again is extremely frustrating. But again, we've got a young group here, we feel like we've built some things here, and I think we've really got an opportunity to take a really big step next year.
What your first year as captain what you expected?
I didn't expect to go through all the things that we went through. Obviously went through a coaching change, never an easy thing. But I've got a pretty good supporting cast in here and those guys are really helpful and alleviate a lot of that pressure off me, so a learning experience for me and I can get better in that aspect and that's what this reflection period is for.
What got your team back on the rails when it looked like things were looking bad there?
It came from within the group. We knew we had a better team than what we were showing. We had a few meetings and kind of turned things around. Obviously Mike (Yeo) came in and changed a few things and that really kind of kick-started that whole process, but it came from within this group. Even those injuries and what-not, the young guys came in and the veteran guys stepped up and it was a good combination we had going.
What do you have to do to get over the hump?
We've got to be obviously more consistent. You look at the way we lost, we played well for a lot of spurts throughout the series, but not the way we wanted to play every single game. Even last year, it's difficult to win. We played well ... this year, we got into a lot of good spots in games, we just weren't able to really close it out. Again, obviously we need to be better because we're not where we want to be, but a couple of those games were pretty close. You get a few bounces here or there and we're in a good situation.
How further are you ahead because Yeo came in this year?
It’s never easy to go through a coaching change in the middle of the season. But I think the advantage we did have is Mike was in here early and he understood us and he got to know us as players and people and that transition was easier than having someone come in from the outside. He's basically got a full year under his belt with this group as players, so he knows what to expect next year and he's a got a good opportunity in the offseason to do what he wants.
Do you expect anything to be any different next year?
I'm sure they're going to look over things and see what we need to do to get better, why we lost and all that stuff. As the season went on, Mike’s changes became second nature to us. We implemented them pretty early and 30 games in they end up becoming your habits. It’ll start from day one next year; Mike will really put his imprint on what he wants, but I think we know what to expect.
Do you have an identity?
Yeah we do. I think obviously 'Fabs' (Robby Fabbri) will be healthy next year, too, and it adds another element to our group that we didn't have. We've got a good combination right now of young guys with speed and tenacity up front and it's looking good.
Was it good to see Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson play so well and develop into a shutdown pairing?
Yeah, they were fantastic. Obviously watching them last year, you knew they were going to be real good this year coming in and just to see the way they played, especially in the playoffs, is pretty impressive. They're 24 now, turning 25 next year, they're at a point right now where you can really see that they're special players. We're lucky to be able to have those two guys together, two young guys together, playing at that level.
How do you feel physically?
I'm good. You know, wear and tear, maybe just need a tune-up, maybe an oil change. That's a lot of hockey obviously going back to the World Cup and when you think about preparing for the World Cup, starting to train earlier, everything was earlier this year. It's a lot of hockey, but again, I wish I was playing more hockey than I am right now.
Did Vladimir Sobotka provide more than Blues expected?
It didn’t surprise us. We knew he was having success over there. He played in the World Cup, we watched him in the World Cup. He’s still the same player as when he left. It’s an element that he brought that every team wants. He can play in all situations, so it was a great addition there, especially at that point in the season. He was great in the playoffs.
Does it seem like Sobotka is more offensive-minded now since returning from KHL?
Yeah, I think even a guy like 'Schwartzy,' (Jaden Schwartz) those guys who are tenacious on the puck, especially in the offensive zone, they’re going to create chances regardless of who they’re on the ice with or against. He can play in all situations, he played on the power play, he played offensive zone starts, he played shutdown, so he’s a guy that really contributes everywhere.
What does the summer entail for you? Are you going to get away?
Yeah, we'll get away from it a bit, take care of my wife, who's having a baby in December. We'll deal with that for now.
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