The St. Louis Blues are full of compelling storylines.
Jordan Binnington is the stunning story of the year.
Vladimir Tarasenko is the most electrifying.
But Ryan O’Reilly is the MVP.
Ask yourself this, have you watched any Blues game this season where you thought he is not giving it his best? We spend so much time talking about all of the knuckleheads in sports, the guys who can’t run hard to first base, the guys who beat up women or abuse drugs.
It’s time to salute the blood and guts of the 2019 St. Louis Blues.
We begin with the trade.
It was July 1st and it started off kind of ho-hum. I can remember interviewing Doug Armstrong at the Mills after the David Perron trade. I relayed what Doug had said on Twitter about the acquisition and the Blues were getting killed. Is that all? Then it happened, the blockbuster deal: O’Reilly comes to the Blues for Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson and draft choices.
How has that worked out for Buffalo?
O’Reilly has 23 goals, 38 assists, 61 points and is a plus-25 for the Blues, while the trio in Buffalo combined for 13 goals, 13 assists, 26 points and a minus-32. This could end up being one of the great trades in Armstrong’s career.
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The numbers only tell half the story.
He has changed the culture of the club. He conducts a practice after every practice. If players on the roster see the lone All-Star putting in extra work, what do you think they do? Many of them join Ryan.
Now on Wednesday, the Blues conducted an optional practice. O’Reilly was there. Just 12 hours earlier, he lifted the franchise on his shoulders with the most heart-stopping moment of the season, his game-winning goal to give the Blues their 11th win in a row. He could have rested and watched Netflix. Instead, he showed up to get a little better.
In an era where we question the commitment and the judgement of many professional athletes, we should sit back and admire Ryan O’Reilly of the Blues.