Frustration can be a great fuel for motivation. Last season's exciting start gave Blues fans high expectations, but a combination of inconsistent play and lack of heart seemed to erase whatever momentum the team began.
© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Look at what Vegas accomplished this past season. Despite being a team of unprotected players, the group came together and formed their own unique identity. Ex-Blue Ryan Reaves believed the Golden Knights bonded in a special way,
"We call ourselves 'The Golden Misfits' for a reason," said Reaves. "We're doing a good job of proving everyone wrong."
Reaves told reporters of the Golden Knights' nickname after eliminating the Winnipeg Jets. The team of unwanted, hot under the collar players dominated the league until they faced the Capitals in the Stanley Cup. Nobody was taking them seriously before the season started.
Frustration is an effective fuel for motivation. When the Blues were mad under Ken Hitchcock's 'old school' coaching, they were playing to prove themselves... every shift. I was lucky enough to interview both Mike Yeo and Hitch over the past three seasons. When listening to the head coach talk after every home game, it's easy to pick-up on differences between the two. While Yeo sends praises, Hitch would say there's room for improvement. Is there a right or wrong here?
Both coaches were catering to two completely different teams. I think the biggest problem with last year's team (and the team before) was the lack of an offensive leader. When David Backes and Troy Brouwer were on the team, young players had two veterans to look-up to. Patrick Maroon could fill in that responsibility, which is why I'm so excited that he's coming home to play for the Blues.
St. Louis was so used to making the playoffs that they tried to do so with the bare minimum of effort last season (Chicago lost their way, too). You can look at the individuals on a team, but then I'd ask you to look back at Vegas. Without an offensive veteran leading the way, you can see how the entitled mentality evolved with a team full of younger players. Midway through the season the Blues started playing as individuals, and that's what sparked the dreaded inconsistent play. I often ask myself where Steen or Berglund were when this began, but that's a different article.
In an ideal world, this team heads into opening night with the memory of fighting for a playoff spot fresh in their mind. They remember what it's like when you don't get that last spot, especially when you were in first place earlier that season. That frustration should convert to motivation, and this team could find their identity through the bond of everybody thinking the Blues will never win a Cup. They'll become hungry to prove themselves to their fans.
With new players like Ryan O'Reilly, Patrick Maroon, and Tyler Bozak, there will be internal competition, which should drive everybody on the team to play their best as well.
Welcome home, Big Rig!
Owner, KSDK contributor