Anyone who believes there’s a chance that St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will move from the Blues to the Toronto Maple Leafs only need to watch this 1:13 minute TSN video of after the Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019.
Deconstructing the Video
Two things on this video are of interest to me. First, Pietrangelo is answering the questions asked by TSN’s reporter Darren Dreger. The content of those answers makes it clear that one key driving forces behind Pietrangelo’s desire to win the Cup and his joy in that winning was because he’d been through so many battles with his teammates. He clearly was proud of and to be among this group of Blues players and the group’s accomplishments. As he put it, he played a “lot of tough minutes” and a “lot of years” with “this group.”
Second, all the time Pietrangelo is talking with Dreger he’s looking over the interviewer’s shoulder for someone else. That someone is his “family” – his wife – who comes to greet him on the ice. Pietrangelo dismisses himself gently with “My family is here,” and leaves Dreger to join them.
Unless things have completely changed or the euphoria of the moment overcame Pietrangelo’s good sense, what you see in this one-minute video are not the words or the actions of anyone who’s soon leaving a team he’s played 12 seasons with (10 as a regular) to sign somewhere else just for a bit more money. There’s a sense of loyalty evident in the visual (what you see) and the audio (what Pietrangelo says).
Specific Reasons Why Pietrangelo Will Re-Sign with the St. Louis Blues
Reason #1: He Wants to Sign with St. Louis.
Pietrangelo said so himself last week. As TSN reported, the words that came out of his mouth were exactly these: “Obviously, I want to stay a Blue. Of course I do. It’s the only place I’ve known professional hockey.”
Reason #2: He Wants to Build a Legacy in St. Louis
Pietrangelo is part of a group of players who’ve won the Stanley Cup once and want to do it again. He spoke about the legacy just after he left the bubble when the Blues were beaten by the Vancouver Canucks.
In that interview, he commented about other long-tenured Blues players and their closeness to the organization. He was clear that he values that closeness.
Specifically, he stated: “Legacy is obviously important. This organization means a lot to me.”
He also added, “You see Al [MacInnis] come around, and see all the other alumni who are around regularly, and that means a lot. It’s guys who have a great relationship with the organization that have been around and really set their roots in St. Louis.”
He noted that he wanted to “leave a legacy” and “to impact the organization and the community” on and off the ice. He finally added, “It’s important to me to really kind of set my roots, wherever it is, and I know my wife feels the same way.”
His roots are in St. Louis.
Reason #3: His Family Is in St. Louis
Pietrangelo is now 30 years old and has been with the Blues 12 years. That’s easy math. He was 18 when he came to St. Louis and he grew up here. He’s married to someone whose family is from St. Louis.
In fact, he’s enjoyed heartbreak and heaven on and off the ice here. He and his wife Jayne lost a baby in 2017. However, in July 2018 the couple gave birth to triplets – Evelyn, Oliver, Theodore – who just turned two years old. Having triplets complicates any decisions his family might make. Even moving from home to a grocery store with three two-year-olds has to be difficult, and moving from the United States to Canada would seem impossible.
Reason #4: St. Louis Is a Great City in which to Live
As Pietrangelo notes, a lot of Blues alumni have continued to make their homes in St. Louis and probably for good reason: it’s a nice place to live. And, that especially true when it has become the only home one has known. Pietrangelo has been in St. Louis his entire career.
For example, during the NHL’s suspended season, whenever there was a Zoom meeting with the Tkachuk brothers – Brady, who plays for the Ottawa Senators, and Matthew, who plays for the Calgary Flames, they were interviewed at their parents home in St. Louis. Keith Tkachuk played long periods of time in three NHL cities (Winnipeg, Phoenix, and St. Louis). When his career was over, he chose to live in St. Louis.
Reason #5: St. Louis Is Clearing Salary Cap Space for Him
The Pietrangelo connection with St. Louis is not only one-way. Just today, St. Louis traded Jake Allen to the Montreal Canadiens. That the Canadiens got him isn’t the point for this post; rather, the point is that the Blues seem to be clearing salary-cap space that would allow Pietrangelo to sign with them.
The St. Louis captain is expected to sign a contract extension for somewhere around $9 million per season. From what I’ve seen today, the Blues are working to make that happen.
Likely, Pietrangelo will also do his part and take a hometown discount. Pietrangelo’s desire to remain with the Blues means he would probably sign for less money there than he could make on the open market.
My caution to any Maple Leafs fans who believe there’s a chance Pietrangelo would sign with and solve the Maple Leafs problems on their defense should be braced for disappointment. That job will become another – as yet unknown – defenseman’s task.
Alex Pietrangelo is staying home.
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