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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Will addition of Jaden Schwartz hurt Blues team chemistry?

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will face the challenge of integrating the freshly signed Jaden Schwartz into the Blues well oiled machine without interrupting team chemistry. - Photo courtesy of Getty Images
On Monday, the St. Louis Blues announced that they had come to terms and signed their 2010 first round draft pick Jaden Schwartz to an entry level contract.

The move was made in part to get Schwartz away from Colorado College, where he had 41 points in 30 games this season, and to begin lacing it up for the Blues organization.  It also was made to provide the Blues offense with a jolt as it is still uncertain when forwards Alex Steen and Matt D'Agostini will be able to return from concussion injuries.

While the addition of Schwartz is great news for Blues fans on the surface, the move could backfire if the Blues and head coach Ken Hitchcock are not careful.

Could bringing in a 19 year old kid at the end of grueling season cause chemistry issues for the Blues?

There is no question that Schwartz is plenty talented offensively.  His offensive skills were clearly on display earlier this year when he netted five points in six games while serving as team captain for Canada in the 2012 World Junior Championships.

But besides the Blues stellar goaltending and defensive prow-less, possibly the biggest reason for the Blues success this season has been the exceptional team chemistry that has been a mainstay since Hitchcock took over behind the bench.

The Blues know their roles and they are happy to accept them.  They work together as a team, support each other on both ends of the ice, and tirelessly pressure their opponents into mistakes.

But how will the Blues react when a 19 year old kid steps in and takes the spot of a teammate that has been there all season?  A teammate that has been there to help earn all 98 points the Blues have accumulated through 71 games played?  A teammate who sweated during training camp and endured yet another coaching change and all of the rough times of past seasons?

Many of these Blues have "grown up" together right before our very eyes this season.  Guys like T.J. Oshie, David Backes, and David Perron have finally gelled into the type of prolific two-way players the Blues thought they could be.

But how will they react with a new "kid" on the block, arriving just in time to enjoy the success that guys like Oshie and Patrik Berglund created?

Schwartz is tentatively scheduled to make his NHL debut on Saturday night in Tampa Bay and he very well could provide the Blues with the late season lift the team needs heading into the playoffs.  Schwartz could help the Blues win the President's Trophy.  Or the arrival of Schwartz could destroy the Blues chemistry just before the playoffs start.

Schwartz is likely a great kid and will work hard and do his best to make an impact at the end of this season, but it is hard to tell what kind of impact Schwartz will have.

But it is clear that the Blues are bringing in Schwartz to start making the future now and hopefully not at the expense of the Blues team chemistry.


  1. Everything about Schwartz points to the fact that he will have no problem fitting in. He has such great hockey IQ and such leadership qualities that he was captain of team Canada, which is no small feat, especially for someone who doesn't play in their beloved junior leagues. They showed video of him talking to a lot of the players and the players were laughing and smiling ear to ear. He's a smart kid, and he's a hard worker. He's not someone like Ovechkin that has all the talent in the world and just uses his natural born skill to play well, he actually works. I'm excited, I just hope Hitch doesn't ruin his development like he has with other young kids. He turns them into boring dump and chase players when they have the potential to be offensive studs. Look at Berglund; worst season he's had since his rookie year and is just finally starting to open it up. I'm much more worried about the Blues ruining Schwartz, than I am about Schwartz ruining the Blues.

  2. Hi Matt and thanks for reading. I have no doubt Jaden is a quality kid and has the skill-set to play in the NHL NOW!

    I just worry that his addition, which when this article was written somebody would have to sit, would mean somebody would have to sit and that it could cause chemistry issues...