St. Louis Blues head coach Mike Yeo

(Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports)

Armstrong Wants To Give Yeo 'More Bullets In The Chamber' Next Season

Blue GM named Jaden Schwartz the team's MVP this season.

April 16, 2018 - 2:35 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Through the St. Louis Blues 2017-18 season, general manager Doug Armstrong says they averaged about four injured players per game. He laid partial blame of the Blues failure to make the playoffs on the lack of choices available to head coach Mike Yeo after lossing top skaters throughout training camp and the regular season. 

Related story: Blues Know Roster Changes Coming After 2017-18 Was 'A Step Backwards'

"Other teams have that, but I guess the point I'm trying to make with that is that I don't think (Yeo) had a lot of bullets in the chamber to pull good players off prime ice and put other players in there," Armstrong says "We just didn't have the depth necessary."

Remember Yeo's press conference after an 8-3 loss to Minnesota in late February? The head coach called out the names of players who he thought played well and was "unhappy" with the rest of them. That was part of  the team's longest losing streak in eight years and promotions/demotions were eminent. But the only change made to the lineup was to sit Patrik Berglund and insert Chris Thorburn into the lineup. 

But the Blues didn't have many options and weren't going to put a team with six teenagers on the ice, by calling up top prospects. So, Armstrong wants to make sure Yeo isn't handcuffed like that next season. 

"Mike didn't have the opportunity to hold players to the level of accountability that we're going to have going forward," Armstrong says. "We have to make sure that the one thing that we do control is ice time. And I think we have to continue to do a good job, or a better job, at holding players accountable for that ice time."

One player who made the most of his ice time was Jaden Schwartz. Armstrong named the 25-year-old forward the Blues MVP of the season, although he missed 20 games with an ankle injury – with Brayden Schenn as a close second for the award.

"From start to finish you'd have to look at a player like Schenn," Armstrong says. "I would say our most dominant player, when he was healthy, was Schwartz. Jaden Schwartz is sort of the engine right now for us ... I thought Schenn's best hockeys was when Schwartz was healthy."

Since St. Louis' loss to the Colorado Avalanche on the last day of the season, which officially knocked them out of postseason contention, Armstrong says he met with Yeo, each player individually and with the Blues coaches. That was after last Tuesday's locker room clean out day, when Armstrong talked about the "important summer" ahead of him and his employees. 

"I don't think we really needed a week to figure out where our season went awry," Armstrong says. "To me it comes down to three or for things. Our power play wasn't sufficient enough to win us games or steal us points in close games. I thought our home record was not nearly good enough. And that goes with a whole host of things."

One regret Armstrong admitted was not making a move to bring in a player or two that could have made even just a single point difference, which would have put St. Louis in the postseason. 

"We just felt we weren't in the rental market this year. Our team wasn't playing well enough obviously from games 33 to 62. We just didn't have a good enough record," Armstrong says. "But I didn't really want to give up top prospects or draft picks you do it."

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