(AP) St. Louis – The St. Louis Blues took yet another step towards Stanley Cup contender today, with the acquisition of behemoth all-star defenceman Zdeno Chara from the Edmonton Oilers. The Blues paid a steep price for Chara in giving up former first overall pick Patrik Stefan, nasty defenceman Kyle McLaren and the Blues 2nd round pick in the 2004 Entry Draft.
Given the Blues are one of only a few teams to have opening night off, it is anticipated Chara will be in the line-up for their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Z is a huge addition for us”, coyly stated Blues General Manager Nick Quain “Both literally and figuratively.”
“We realized last year we need other members of our top 4 to be able to spell Chris (Pronger) for bigger minutes when he needs it”, added Quain. “Z provides us with that flexibility”.
The Blues defensive depth chart now consists of Pronger, Chara, Bryan McCabe, Brendan Witt, Denis Gauthier, Rostislav Klesla and Curtis Leschyshyn. When all hands are on deck, it is believed Blues coach Marc Crawford will have Chara playing with McCabe on the second pairing, while Witt will join Pronger on the first unit
The Blues defensive depth will be tested early in the season, as Pronger will be forced to miss the opening two games of the season in serving the remainder of his controversial suspension handed down during the Blues playoff loss to the Detroit Red Wings last post-season. Pronger missed games 6 and 7 of the series, both Blues losses. It’s a bitter reminder of how last season ended for the entire team.
“No question that left a bitter taste in our mouths all off-season”, stated Crawford. “Tuesday begins our first step towards redemption.”
When asked about the Blues sudden hole on the left side with the loss of one of their checking line forwards in Stefan, Quain acknowledged the Blues were going on the market for a depth forward at a very bad time.
“I realize that everyone and their mother is looking for depth, checking line quality forwards.” quipped Quain, “but some deals you simply have to pull the trigger on when you have the chance. Getting Z wasn’t an opportunity we were willing to pass up”.
Quain went on to say the Blues were looking for either a depth left winger or centerman, but they were in no rush. Rookie Peter Sejna may be called up at some point in the coming weeks to provide depth should the Blues require another forward.
Rumour has it Vegas odds-makers were already adjusting the betting lines on the Blues chances at Lord Stanley’s chalice, where St. Louis was already deemed close to an equal co-favorite with the perennial powerhouse in Canada’s capital.
Last edited by Dr.Sens(e): 12-15-2003 at 08:34 AM.
Edmonton would like to formally apologize to all other Cup-Contenders for making St. Louis that much tougher to beat.
I just wish you had dumped more salary on him Andrew. The quicker we can deplete that bank account the sooner the reign will end.
The upside is thta the better his team gets the greater the chance he wins the President's Trophy which, as all veterans know, is cursed even in the HFNHL. Only once in 5 years has the President's trophy winner won the HFNHL cup and at least twice the winner was eliminated in the first round.
Hmmm ... now that I think about it I may need to 'rest' a few players when the Red Wings meet up with the Blues in the regular season :-P