Blues players excited, ready for camp
ST. LOUIS - David Perron was already en route from his home in Sherbrooke, Quebec, to St. Louis when news broke of a possible deal to end the NHL lockout early Sunday morning.
"I was probably on my phone updating Twitter 50 times in one hour," Perron said. "It was a real exciting time to know I wasn’t going to drive for no reason."
Perron and the rest of his Blues teammates have either made their way to St. Louis or are scheduled to arrive in the next few days in advance of training camp officially opening this weekend.
"I was going to drive down here anywhere (Sunday) to get down and train with the guys and hopefully it was going to settle soon," Perron added. "Maybe a half an hour after I left (at 4 a.m.), I saw that they were still meeting and possibly something was going to work out.
"I’m glad I started leaving right away because I get a few days ahead of everyone to get some training."
The Blues have held a number of informal workouts this week at their practice facility at the St. Louis Mills and those will continue daily until camp gets going either Saturday or Sunday.
A group of players including captain David Backes, Andy McDonald and Alex Pietrangelo met at an area rink to practice during the lockout. Others including Alex Steen, Roman Polak and others signed contracts to play overseas during the lockout but are headed back to St. Louis with the NHL season finally set to get going.
"It’s exciting," said Blues goalie Brian Elliott. "A little bit scary, a little bit just getting those butterflies going but I think that’s a good thing. Everybody’s probably in the same boat feeling if this thing starts, are we going to be ready?
"I think you just have to trust yourself and trust what you’ve trained for and your instincts going into the season. I’m definitely excited and hopefully when more and more guys start rolling in here, we’ll be able to grow."
With a 48-game schedule likely to be announced in the next few days, the Blues figure to be in a better spot than most teams. The condensed schedule will likely mean more games on back-to-back nights and few off days throughout the season.
That scenario shouldn’t hurt the Blues like it might some other clubs because of their dynamic goaltender duo of Elliott and Jaroslav Halak. The two combined to win the Jennings Trophy last year by allowing the fewest goals in the NHL. While some teams may have to push their top goalie or play an inexperienced backup, the Blues will be able to give both guys rest while still having a chance to win each night.
There will be no preseason games and training camp will only be a week long, a big change from usual years. But it will be the first camp in a few years for Perron, who missed the first part of last season due to a concussion sustained the previous year.
"It’s my first training camp in a couple years," Perron said. "It’s not going to be a regular camp and I think a lot of the players are going to try and find their legs and get their feet under them as soon as possible. It’s not going to be an easy task."
After winning the Central Division a year ago and advancing past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Blues hope to continue that momentum when things get going next week.
And with the schedule condensed and more teams likely in the mix, it figures to be a crazy sprint to the finish.
"There will be some exciting hockey," said veteran Jamie Langenbrunner.
One thing is certain. The Blues are ready to get going.