While I side with the group of people that do not think the Blues will make the playoffs, there are several reasons that they HAVE to. As a matter of fact, if they don’t, the consequences could be dire for the franchise.
Since Dave Checketts’ group took over ownership of the club four years ago, they’ve stressed the belief that their approach was the way to go. They’ve built with youth, which I think is a good thing and agree with. However, the Blues fan base did get spoiled by 25 straight years of post-season play. Including the lockout, this would be the fifth straight year out of the playoffs if the Blues don’t make it. How long will fans stay with the club, regardless of their youth, if there isn’t a reward at the end of the season?
Speaking of the young club, at some point these players are going to have to experience the difference between the NHL regular season and post-season. This doesn’t apply to rookies T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund, of course. But Brad Boyes, Carlo Coliacovo, David Backes, Jay McClement and Chris Mason need that experience as they mature and head toward free agency. A franchise would like to know how a player reacts in the playoffs before giving him a huge contract.
Finally, the Blues franchise has been a money loser for years. They have the lowest ticket prices in the NHL, they provide a great fan experience, and they sell a good amount of those tickets. How long should Checketts’ group…not an exceptionally well heeled partnership…be expected to lose money on this venture? The playoffs are worth about $1 million per home game, which goes a long way toward cutting into those losses. While a five percent amusement tax on tickets was waived by the city for the Rams when they arrived in town, and the Cardinals when they built Busch Stadium, the Blues still pay that five percent plus 6.85% in sales tax.
As the years in the Blues lease wind down and the club continues to lose money…with Kansas City’s Sprint Center clamoring for a tenant…the Blues HAVE to make the playoffs, and soon!