National Hockey League | St. Louis Blues

Blues Players Can’t Afford a Fight with the Fans

Vladimir Tarasenko
St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko, of Russia, awaits a face-off during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)

One of the worst things that can happen in sports is happening right now to the imploding St. Louis Blues.  When a team is going as bad as they are, it’s natural for fans to get upset.  But when the players start sniping at the fans…whoa…that’s a problem.

On Friday night during a horrific loss to Winnipeg, Jake Allen had his problems.  The Blues had the first seven shots on goal, and Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck stopped them all.  The Blues so dominated the first few minutes that they had taken sixteen shots on the Winnipeg net…seven on goal, some wide, some blocked, one high…before Winnipeg took one at the 5:58 mark.  Alas, the period didn’t stay that way.  After outshooting Winnipeg 7-0 with nothing to show for it, the Blues were outshot 11-7 the rest of the period, and Allen allowed three goals.  Not all were his fault (the second one was), but as they say in hockey, your goalie needs to win a game sometimes.

With 13:22 left in the second period and the Blues down 4-0, Allen covered an Alexander Steen pass near the net and the fans cheered loudly, giving him the old, sarcastic Bronx cheer.  As you might guess about something that started in the Bronx, it’s sarcastic.

After the game, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko said to our Blues insider Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic of the crowd “The goalies are the last guys who we can blame on this.  This is just embarrassing to hear. A lot of guys have never played hockey and they cheer when Jake makes a save. If not for the goalies, we’d be in a worse spot right now. They can blame us, they can blame everyone, but don’t touch the goalies. Me personally, I know how hard he works (well, that makes on of them), I know how much he’s done for the organization and especially this year and last year. I don’t understand why people blame the goalies. That’s wrong.”

Well, Vladdy, let’s break this down.  Coming into the game, Allen had won two of his last thirteen starts.  Yes, his offensive support (thanks in large part to you) has been lacking.  But he’s had his share of poor play.  It might be embarrassing for you to hear, but you might want to watch some tape of your last two months of play to be really embarrassed.  Take a particular look at your power play performance.  THAT’S embarrassing.  Want more?  We don’t need to have played hockey to know your team has been awful.  And we, as fans, DO blame you all.  Consider that Bronx cheer a shot at you, Allen and all your teammates.

Captain Alex Pietrangelo joined in, telling JR “I don’t like it. It’s been bothering me. I’m not going to say anything about the fans but it’s disappointing to hear that. We got his back.”  Clearly, Petro doesn’t listen to The Fast Lane, because if he did, he would have started his sentence with “With all due respect…” which allows you to say whatever you want, but because you prefaced it with “with all due respect” it really doesn’t count.

Word to the wise.  Don’t get into it with the fans.  Even if you’re trying to protect a teammate.  You can’t win.  The only way to win is to win.

This backlash doesn’t rise to the level of Richie Incognito flipping off Rams fans and ripping them (“It’s nice to have the other fans here. At least they cheer. Our fans get in their seats, they don’t know how to cheer, when to cheer. We get the other team’s fans coming in, and they cheer real nice for us. It provides for a good football atmosphere, having the Chicago fans down here.”) or even Steven Jackson doing the same thing, getting upset that they made a profit by selling to Bears fans. “There were a lot of Bears fans in sections they shouldn’t have been.  When we ran out in pregame, we were booed. It was terrible. I couldn’t believe it. To be at home and feel like I’m at a road game, it was just embarrassing.”  There’s that word again.  And the Rams earned it.

One problem the Blues appear to have…with all due respect…is that they don’t seem to care about losing as much as their fans (the most passionate in town) do.

The current six game losing streak…and the stretch of 18-20-3 in their last 41 games…is troubling on many levels.  But to lose 4-of-5 at home…scoring five goals in the four losses, is going to elicit some sarcasm and some Bronx cheers.  And as Brad Thompson so eloquently says.  “Don’t like it?  Play better.”