Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yes, I Understand the Season Has Already Started: Hey KC, Follow This Team...or Not


I am not a fan of this next team, but I do know that many Kansas Citians follow them closely.  It's not so much I hate them, it's just too much over-saturation based on past living arrangements.  And because I'm a Kings fan.  Alas, this team ranks in my top 5 of the most KC-esque teams.  I will try to remain unbiased as I list the reasons for you to like them for the years to come, and the reasons to maybe choose another of the five.

By the way, this team played at Kemper Arena more than any other NHL franchise at nine times (three of these were recent exhibition games; I don't know the exhibition schedule of the Scouts so it may be more).  Who is it?  Jump to find out, or just look at the tags.  Whatever.



Village West Best Potential Award:  Player that brings the most to the team

David Backes scored the biggest point total in his career last season (31+31=62), and has played almost all of the past four seasons.  He is the face of the organization, and one of the more consistent players in recent years.  He's not a huge goal scorer, but as a big bodied second round draft pick in 2003, he is everything the Blues need him to be and more.

The blog St. Louis Game Time has a bit of a different perspective, but it doesn't discount his important role on the team:
The bottom line is that Backes plays hockey the right way. He's physical, he's responsible in his own end. He passes the puck about as often as he shoots it. He can drop the gloves if he needs to. He plays in front of the net and in traffic. He's a strong skater. I could go on. Of all the players on the Blues' roster, he is right now the most established and rock solid. But I think he's close to his ceiling. Unless he changes how he plays, Backes won't see a big jump in goals or assists. That's not a bad thing. But it means there are a couple guys who still have some room to grow that I will argue are more important on this team.
A good assessment of a young leader.  There may be better players on the team, but Backes is reliable and consistent.  Again, no major injuries nor glaring scoring inconsistencies.  Named the Blues captain about a month ago, he is the youthful leader on a team full of veteran leaders.  Langenbrunner, McDonald, and Arnott add the veteran presence, but they may not be on the team much longer.  No need to worry about Backes leaving; he’s locked up through 2016.

Union Station Biggest Burden Award: Player with least upside and carries a big financial burden

Geez, it’s hard to pick a guy that is a huge financial burden on a team that doesn’t spend a lot of money.  The Royals can do it (e.g. Jose Guillen, etc.), why can’t the Blues?  So, let’s just say Jamie Langenbrunner.  He adds veteran leadership (e.g. Jeff Francoeur) and all of that fun stuff, but is getting $2.75MM for just one year.  He is a low risk type of guy, but he’s 36 and didn’t score much for two teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season.  He appears to be a good choice for this spot.  

Plus, Scott Nichol is only getting $700,000 for this year, so he’s not much of a burden just to get in useless fights or he would have this spot hands down.

Eric Hosmer/ 2004 2008 2012 Royals Hope Award: Reason for Optimism

Gosh, well, you will want to stick with this team, I suppose.  They kept their cap low for a reason, since most of their core players are either UFA or RFA at the end of this season or next.  I can’t imagine this team will be too dangerous this year in the Central Division that features the tough Predators, Red Wings, and Blackhawks.  Maybe next year, depending on major signings or free agents.

Also, the ownership situation is getting much clearer since Matthew Hulsizer has entered the picture.  You might remember Hulsizer as the guy who wanted to buy the Coyotes last year.  Yeah, well, the Blues are a much better investment with much better fan and local support.  All the Blues need is a stable ownership group, and it seems business can get back to normal without the worry of future money woes.

Katie Horner Scared-Sh!tless Award:  Reason to Worry

Another year of mediocrity, and then it’s all up in the air after that depending on this season.  If the Blues perform well this season, a bunch of dudes probably get resigned and the team continues the course they are on.  If they perform poorly this season, more affordable veteran "leaders" come in as the team embarks on a rebuild within a rebuild, of sorts.

Buck O’Neil Positive Attitude Award:  Reason to cheer them

  1. They are the closest team to KC, and occasionally appear on local TV.
  2. Long history + no championship = Big 12 North football territory.  Plus the Chiefs’ last championship came only five years after the Blues came into existence.
  3. Team with a long history with solid teams.
  4. Hope for new ownership dedicated to improving the NHL's product in St. Louis.
Mark Funkhouser Memorial Trophy:  Reason to Hate Them

  1. You live in Kansas City, and hate St. Louis.
  2. You live in Kansas, and hate Missouri.
  3. No championships for the club since their inception in 1967, and you need to brag about something.
  4. Again, it's St. Louis.  So, just think about that.

Worlds of Fun Ride that Best Describes the Franchise:  Mamba

They are a thrill ride-type of team.  They are up, they are down.  They rebuild, they go to the playoffs, they run out of steam, and start rebuilding again.  Just like the Mamba, especially recently, the Blues' build-up to the season is like a steep hill and you just can't see the other side.  They may be good, they may be bad.  This may be scary, it may be lame, or it may be good.  This season is another one of those years.  This team has a lot of working pieces, but they certainly are not flashy like their Central Division counterparts.  Like the Mamba, the most recent Blues start with some skepticism, go over the first hill of the season, crest another hill, maybe hit a peak, and by the middle of the season they use some early momentum but start going in circles, then there are a lot of annoying bumps at the end of the season that keep them out of the playoffs.  At some point during the whole dilemma, someone takes their picture and they end up looking something like this:

Number of Floating, Disembodied Jack Harry Heads:

Four out of five

I think Jack would like to talk about this team, and I personally would love to hear how he attacks the front office.  If anything, the Blues management makes decent decisions, but they are typically very safe.  I'm sure Jack would scream his head off at Dave Checketts for trying to sell and the process taking so long etc. etc.  Also, their mediocrity over the years surely would upset him, even if Jack really doesn't care about hockey.  But, they are a team Midwesterners can get behind.  After the Scouts left KC in 1975, the Blues were the only club in Missouri and were able to grow throughout the state and the region.  When the Blues played the exhibition games in KC in the past years, their fans were there in full force.  They make the playoffs occasionally, and they have strong, exciting teams at least once every decade.  Yet, they rarely have any significant wins in the playoffs, so there are still plenty of problems for the local media to fain anger at a few times every month.  Which sounds eerily familiar to a certain NFL team that plays at Arrowhead.  As a team for Kansas Citians to follow, they make.... a lot...of.... sense....

Ugh, that was painful.

Relevant (NSFW language).  And that is indeed JACK'S SMACK!

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