After imploring the trade market with Jaroslav Halak and coming up empty, the Blues’ GM lamented that Halak will be in training camp, along with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen.
“I would say, now, that all indications are that Jaro, Brian and Jake will be the three games at camp,” Armstrong said. “And that’s an interesting one. When the season ended, and the emotion subsides…I talked to Ken, probably, about this situation more than anything.”
When asked if he believes that the goalie situation has now become a 3 headed monster that needs to be stopped at all costs before the next campaign begins, Doug’s reply was, “No.”
Where would we have been if we didn’t have one of these three guys last year? One reporter whispered under his breath, “Spending a lot less time in the doctor’s office getting treated for chronic ulcers.”
Armstrong continued, “So if there’s something that’s a way to improve our team, I am always look at doing that. But it’s a strength for me.”
Before the GM finished that sentence, a brief ceremony was held as Doug was awarded a handsome trophy – Spin Doctor of the Year Award for implying that having three number one goalies in one season was a ‘strength for me.’
Getting back to the press conference, Doug Armstrong added that he is toying with the idea of moving Kris Russell from Defense to Left Wing.
We asked Kris Russell if he liked the idea of playing left wing instead of defense.
His reply, “I don’t want to talk about it!”
His answer was quite defensive.
Doug Armstrong continued, “Worst-case scenario or best-case scenario — however you want to look at it — we’ll come to training camp with eight defensemen. Kris has shown the versatility to play left wing and has also, at times, put on the goalie equipment; so right now I have Kris on the left side as a forward and if need be, a fourth starting goalie for the Blues.
We have thirteen forwards, seven defensemen and 4 goalies. If there’s an ability to find Kris a spot where he can flourish in his career, we’ll certainly work with him to do that; and if being the one of our 4 starting goaltenders helps him to flourish, so be it.”
In other news, the Blues and unrestricted free-agent defenseman Jordan Leopold have agreed on a contract extension.
This was only after a two-day negotiation battle with Jordan’s agent over which position Leopold would play.
Doug had him penciled in as the 5th starting goaltender for the Blues, just in case one of the other four starters were playing poorly or were injured.
Doug finally acquiesced when Leopold’s agent threatened a class- action lawsuit in behalf of the St. Louis Blues’ season ticket holders.
When it was all said and done, Leopold, 32, signed a two-year extension worth $4.5 million, for an annual average value of $2.25 million per season. With a bonus option of 1 million if he starts in goal more than 5 games over the next two years.
Leopold, who was acquired last March from Buffalo, had two assists in fifteen regular-season games with the Blues. He would have hit the free-agency market Friday at 11 a.m. (St. Louis time).
“He was here for a short period of time, and I thought that his experience was something that was beneficial to our team,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “I thought he and (Kevin) Shattenkirk found a comfort level with each other. I think now with (Jay) Bouwmeester, (Jordan) Leopold, (Barret) Jackman on that left side … and our right side, I think, is our strength… I think that gives us maybe one of the strongest defenses in the league with both experience and youth, and it’s something that is a good fit for us.”
Other tidbits from today’s conversation with Armstrong:
• The Blues made a strong pitch to free-agent center Vincent Lecavalier, but were informed Tuesday, along with several other suitors that he was headed to Philadelphia on a five-year, $22.5 million contract.
“Myself, Al MacInnis, Ken Hitchcock and two of Vinny’s former teammates — Rob DiMaio and Tim Taylor — met with Vinny and his agent at the Motel 6 in New York City on Saturday. We probably spent the better part of an hour with him, attempting to expound upon the many advantages of moving from center to the starting goalie position. Ken described how it would all work… “You see, Vince…You will open the season as our starting goalie and we will just play it by ear and then…”
Suddenly Al MacInnis interrupted and tried to change the conversation to how nice the weather is in St. Louis and was very strong and passionate about the city of St. Louis.
I thought we hit all the things that were important, that Vinny wanted to hear. I actually talked to Vinny two days ago and he said to stop calling him Vinny…that he preferred to be called Vincent and that he thought that our presentation was (one) of the strangest presentations made to him. His agent (Kent Hughes) echoed that too.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t get another goalie, man could you imagine where this team would be if we had a 6th starting goalie…but I’m very appreciative of the work that went into it by the rest of our staff, and the opportunity to meet with Vinny. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. He is a big centerman who is destined to be a great goalie for Philadelphia…and I thought he would fit into our group at no (trade) cost, and he ended up choosing the Philadelphia Flyers, go figure, but at the end of the day, I’m glad we went through the process.”
• Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forward Chris Stewart, both restricted free agents, remain unsigned. Armstrong was asked whether he expects either of the two to become the 6th and 7th starting goalies for the St. Louis Blues? “No,” replied Armstrong, who said that he didn’t think they were good fits for that position; but did mention the outside chance of moving them to Left Wing.
“Either way, I’m comfortable we’ll get them in in the areas that we and they believe are fair.”
Moments after the press conference ended, Doug Armstrong was seen negotiating with Tom Calhoun – Public Address Announcer for the St. Louis Blues, exploring the idea of Tom becoming the 8th starting goalie for the St. Louis Blues.
Tom reply: “There is one minute remaining in the game” and then he ran off with Doug in close pursuit screaming “I can guarantee you ten starts this year!”