posted on January 18, 2013 08:00
Thank you Tom Stillman.
With the season opener against the Detroit Red Wings just one day away, the new St. Louis Blues owner secured the most important piece to his puzzle by signing general manager Doug Armstrong to a five year contract extension.
In just two and a half years, Armstrong’s Blues resume is impressive. The NHL’s 2012 General Manager of the Year has orchestrated moves that have taken the team from wannabes to prime time players. Although he hasn’t been given much of a canvas to work with when it comes to payroll, Armstrong has done a tremendous job of cranking out a masterpiece. When it is all said and done, the 2010 NHL draft could be what cements his legacy with the Blues. Not only did he land silky smooth center Jaden Schwartz with the 14th pick of the first round of the draft, he then traded 2009 first round draft pick defenseman David Rundblad to the Ottawa Senators for the 16th pick of the first round and immediately drafted top Russian prospect right wing Vladimir Tarasenko. If they are everything they are being hyped of being, Schwartz and Tarasenko could be something special for years to come.
Not only did Armstrong win NHL hardware in 2012, he was also responsible for bringing in three other men who took home NHL awards as well in 2012. In one of his first acquisitions as general manager, Armstrong shipped Blues prospect Lars Eller to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for goaltender Jaroslav Halak. In 2011, the Blues general manager then inked free agent goalie Brian Elliott to a one year contract. Halak and Elliott won the 2012 Jennings Trophy which is awarded to the netminding tandem with the fewest goals allowed. When Blues coach Davis Payne started the 2011-12 season with a 6-7 record, Armstrong made a bold move by firing Payne and bringing in Ken Hitchcock.
Hitchcock, who won the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999, guided the Blues to a 43-15-11 record and to their first playoff series victory since 2002 before succumbing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in a second round four game sweep. It may have been a bitter ending to the season for the Blues head coach, but it became much more sweeter when he was given the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year.
And let’s not forget Armstrong’s blockbuster trade that sent former number 1 overall draft pick Erik Johnson and center Jay McClement to the Colorado Avalanche for power forward Chris Stewart and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. That trade could end up going down as one of the top three deals in Blues history.
Now that Stillman has his general manager in place, the Blues are free of the distraction that would have been a cloud hanging over the team’s collective heads six months from now when Armstrong’s contract was due to expire. With Armstrong now locked up for the next five years, the Blues can focus on their main goal which is bringing the Stanley Cup down Market Street.
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