Thursday’s Thoughts on Rams Draft and Blues Playoffs

DraftLogoSt. Louis, MO

(@RealShaneGray)

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Rams traded a plethora of premium 2016 and 2017 draft picks to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for the number one overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. In doing so, the Rams bet the farm on the hope that either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz will become the league’s next elite quarterback and help lift the former St. Louis-based franchise out of a decade-plus stretch of frustration and futility.

In giving up a first, two seconds and a third rounder this year and first and third round selections next year, L.A. essentially sealed the franchise’s fate for the next several seasons.

After relinquishing so much draft capital to move up to get their gunslinger, the Rams bold move will do one of two things:

If it works, they have landed themselves a top-tier quarterback to go along with a potentially dominant defense and ground game, and the move will help elevate the organization to the upper echelon of the NFL in rather short order.

If it fails, the risky trade with the Titans will set the franchise back several more seasons and likely keep the franchise fumbling in the won-loss column for several more years.

In short, this trade will all but make or break the Rams hopes to turn the corner in California. This was an all-boom or all-bust deal. Time will tell the tale on how it plays out for Stan Kroenke and company.

Speaking of the Rams Trade…

Unfortunately , St. Louis fans and media alike learned that the Rams front office  — led by team CEO Kevin Demoff — was good at a few things not remotely related to winning football games: lying, manipulating and serving themselves.

With that understood, I couldn’t help but laugh when hearing that the Rams chose to wait a day to announce the aforementioned trade for the number one pick so as to not take away from the final home game of Lakers all-time great Kobe Bryant.

Of course, the Rams made sure to let everyone know that they postponed the news an extra day rather than just quietly announcing the trade the next day and leaving it at that. That’s the Rams, though.

For anyone unclear of the Rams motives, let me break it down for you:

The Rams did that for the Rams. That’s it.

They desired to appeal to Lakers fans by attempting to show consideration for their fan base in an effort to help the Rams and nobody but the Rams. It’s really that simple.

The Rams PR machine continues to be predictably pathetic.

How ‘Bout Those Blues? 

After securing a three games to one advantage over the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the NHL’s Western Conference playoffs, the Blues started looking like the same old Blues in faltering to a 3-3 series tie as fans wondered if it was yet another hear-we-go-again- postseason collapse.

But this year, with all the chips on the line, St. Louis stepped up with a thrilling game 7 win at home to the delight of Blues faithful.

As the club is now just a series win away from their first Stanley Cup appearance since 1970, a Finals appearance couldn’t come at a better time for either the Blues or the STL.

With the Rams and the NFL freshly departed, this would be the ideal time for the Blues to grab the attention of former Rams fans who may be looking for another local pro club to turn their attention to. With many football fans feeling scorned, what better time for the Blues to pack the bandwagon than right now? What better time to grow some future die-hard fans with a Stanley Cup appearance just months after the Rams exit?

And for St. Louis, what better time for the Blue note to win a Stanley Cup than right now, with so many sports fans and St. Louisans in general feeling disappointment following the exodus of the world’s preeminent sports league?

Whether you are one of the many have moved on from the Rams move or one of many others who haven’t, this would be a perfect time for the city’s great sports fans and the region in general to enjoy some good fortunes in relation to the region’s pro-sports landscape.

Now perhaps more than over, St. Louis wants to see the Blues get this done and they may have a better shot than they have in awhile to do just that.

Thanks for reading…

SG

The Rivalry Begins…Again

Blackhawks-BluesST. LOUIS, MO

@thelegendkil

Well it’s that time of the year again, the start of the NHL playoffs are here and the St.Louis Blues are about to face one of their most hated rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. And anytime when the Blues and Blackhawks get together it’s a fun time for fans in St.Louis and Chicago. But, when it’s the playoffs the heat gets turned up higher than you can turn a knob on a range oven.

The Blues have not fared well against the Blackhawks in the playoffs. The defending Stanley Cup champions now boast a 32-24 all-time playoff record against the Blues. And to be honest the “Notes” hasn’t done too well in the playoffs as of late. It’s become almost custom that by the time your grass turns green the Blues are normally dismissed from the playoffs.

Fans throughout the region are collectively cautiously optimistic that this could be the year the Blues advance at least out of the first round of the playoffs. Especially, after another strong regular season netting a total of 107 points, without having more than two players net 20 goals. Or even have two players over 50 points for the season. The Blues averaged under three goals a game ranked in the middle of the pack at 15. But, the Blues did make up for that cracking the top ten in three other important categories; Ranking 2,4, and 6 in penalty kill, goaltending, and power play, according to NHLreference.com. Coach Ken Hitchcock in a brief presser said that every person is available health wise and that Blues Captain David Backes will be ready to play according to ESPN.com.

The defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks bring plenty of offensive fireworks led by Patrick Kane’s 106 points and second leading goal scorer Artemi Panarin’s 30 goals and 47 assists. And they get plenty of offense from their defensemen as well. Defenseman Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are ranked 4 and 5 respectively on their team in regards scoring. And can’t leave out that the Blackhawks are steered by former Blues coach Joel Quenneville.

And in order for the Blues to have any success against the Blackhawks, they have to remain aggressive especially on the power play. I noticed several times throughout the season they would have the puck on the power play and 15-20 seconds would go by without a shot being taken on net. Also my eyes will be on Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk a very talented player yet he is a –14 when it comes to plus/minus rating. And the Blues have shown a tendency to get caught flat-footed creating odd man rushes, that’s something this team can ill afford to do. Obvious goals will be at a premium in the NHL playoffs, sometimes all you need is one goal.

Regardless, it’s good to have some playoff sports in the city of St.Louis, let’s hope the Blues give the “blues” to someone else for a change this spring. And nothing would be sweeter than eliminating a rival.

For more…follow me on Twitter @thelegendkil

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The View From Mt. Airy 04-12-2016

33d1af30-d169-4cbf-8262-6457260137c9Flyers owner and CEO Ed Snider passed this weekend in California. Ed Snider was the Joe Namath of franchise owners. Cool. Connected. Threw cash at his Flyers that you knew was backed by passion as much as it were the promise of success. Ed Snider taught a city hockey, and captured the love and dedication to a franchise that bordered on cult worship. The Flyers, under his nearly 50 year stewardship became unquestionably the most successful expansion team outside of the Original Six. He helped to shape, grow, and move the NHL out of realm of a niche sport and into the national consciousness as cable and satellite television brought ice hockey to every corner of America.

But all along, even as he created Comcast Spectacor and worked on the landscape of the sport he loved so ardently, there was never a question. The Philadelphia Flyers were his baby. His true love and that sentiment was unwavering. The Flyers were 1st, 2nd and last in his heart and it showed. Walk through the Wells Fargo Center during any home game and you’ll always find the halls littered with ex Flyers from generations past. The motto has always been “once a Flyer, always family” and it remains true. The Flyers arrived in Philadelphia in 1967 and a parade for the new franchise attracted a rousing party of 75….six years later the Flyers would become the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup and a parade would wind through Philly with 2 million party goers in attendance.  Though they repeated in 1975, the Flyers haven’t won a third title despite 7 trips to the NHL finals since. That never dissuaded Mr. Snider. He poured money like the Yankees into free agency, trusted his execs to execute the plan, all the while maintaining the family feel that separates the Flyers from so many other pro sports organizations.

Ed Snider built and funded 6 inner city arenas so that the children of Philadelphia can play and learn ice hockey free of charge. Skates, padding, sticks and equipment all underwritten by the foundation created by Mr. Snider to fund urban hockey. When I drive through Philly today I see children of every color walking to hockey practice and playing in city leagues. This all Mr. Snider’s doing and an incredible legacy unto itself. There are over 5,000 kids playing city hockey now under the Flyers umbrella at zero cost.

Ed Snider radiated cool, and I’m left with our last meeting to summarize Mr. Snider. I’m leaving the Flyers game two years ago on a frozen February night. While I ease onto the expressway, I see Mr. Snider pull up on my right in that beautiful silver Jag with the FLYERS1 PA tags. I wave and say hey. I can see him thinking, finally he looks up and goes, “How ya been Phil?” I was not and no one in Philly would be, surprised he knew their name. He was a great man, an amazing owner, and he was one of a kind. Follow me on Twitter: @MtAiryPhil and catch me each week on N The Zone and follow on Twitter & Facebook.

L.A.ftermath 8 seed + 99 Gretzky’s Blessing = Stanley Cup

What’s not to love about L.A.!

The Stanley Cup championship has come to the second largest market for the first time.

No, Anaheim is not L.A. it’s close, and home of a Stanley cup champion in the Ducks, but this time the house and State of Hockey in Cali that Gretzky built hoists the most coveted trophy in professional hockey!

Oh yeah, the Kings are the first and only team in the almost 100 years of the NHL to go up 3 games to none on all four rounds of opponents. (NHL was founded in 1917) Top that with the Kings being the first number 8 seeded team to win the Lord Stanley’s cup.

This West Coast franchise sporting uniforms which Many of the Kings most notable names played during the “Silver & Black” uniform era have had many makeovers uniforms and players.

This current championship team a few years back went to the youth movement with Anze, Dustin Brown, and Drew Doughty and Johnathan Quick and mixed in key crafty veterans like Jarret Stoll, Simon Gagne, and Willie Mitchell.

Even more amazing is their head coach who comes from hockey royalty, yes another Sutter brother didn’t even start the season with the Kings, he was G.M. in Calgary.

So for all those naysayers who just wish their team could get in that final playoff spot and not have any expectations of going past the first round or maybe two, well here you go…the L.A. Kings have made winning a championship a reality for slipping into a final playoff spot on the last night and the last game of the regular season.