Grading the 2011-12 Blues
Jason Arnott was brought in for the valuable experience and leadership he could provide for a rather young St. Louis roster. For the duration of the regular season he did just that. However, the playoffs saw Arnott suffer an injury which caused a rift behind the scenes between Arnott and the St. Louis coaching staff. How should we rate Arnott’s play in 2011-12 and, perhaps more importantly, where will he be in 2012-13?
Previous Grading the Blues Articles
Prior to 2011-12
Jason Arnott’s NHL career is a lengthy one. He started out in 1993-94 for the Edmonton Oilers. The goal here is to keep things brief so we’ll just focus on his most recent season leading up to 2011-12. In 2010-11 Arnott spent time with the New Jersey Devils (62 games) and the Washington Capitals (11 games). He produced 31 points between the two clubs – the lowest mark of his career.
St. Louis signed Arnott in the hopes he would be a presence in the crease for the Blues all while giving the lineup valuable experience. Arnott was signed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
Arnott delivered what the Blues needed during the regular season. He used his size to his advantage both by disrupting the opposition in their own zone and by screening the opposing goaltender by planting himself at the top of the crease.
He started out strong, scoring eight points in 11 games in October and 10 points in 13 games in December. However, Arnott’s production slowed as the year drug on. He tallied just 14 points from February through the end of the regular season in April.
Arnott ended the year with 34 points – three higher than his lowest mark that he set in 2010-11.
Final numbers: 17 goals and 17 assists (34 points) with a +13.
Regular season grade: B-
Summarized: Arnott started the year strong but ended it pretty quietly. Offensively, his numbers all but evaporated after the month of December. He still used his size and strength to assist the Blues in what was one of the NHL’s best forechecking units, but he rarely entered the boxscore.
This trailing off earns Arnott the grade you see above. He did basically what the Blues hoped he would do. He provided leadership and experience but his game trailed off once the calendar flipped to 2012 – a likely sign that he truly is in the late stages of his career.
This section is a bit rocky. Arnott played in seven playoff games for the Blues but missed the final two games against the Los Angeles Kings. He looked like he did at the end of the regular season against San Jose but looked distracted (just like his teammates) upon facing Los Angeles.
At some stage Arnott suffered a “lower-body” injury. Arnott believed he could still play through the injury but the St. Louis coaching staff felt differently. Upon hearing he wasn’t going to be in the lineup with the team’s year on the line, Arnott refused to practice under the motto that if he was too injured to play he was too injured to practice. You can’t really blame the veteran’s though process here but it certainly created a rift that likely will end Arnott’s time in St. Louis.
Final numbers: 7 games – 1 goal, 0 assists (1 points) with a -1 rating.
Playoff grade: C-
Summarized: Arnott’s year ended on a pretty sour note. It’s disappointing that the Blues fell flat in the second round but it’s even more disappointing that Arnott will likely exit on such bad terms. He was a solid fit in the St. Louis lineup but ultimately he struggled to consistently match the pace of the game around him.
The grade he earns is partially due to his uninspired play against Los Angeles and partially for his words and actions away from the rink. He was supposed to lead by example and the example he gave younger skaters at the end of the playoffs was far from admirable.
Once again, Arnott appears to be back on the open market. His contract with the Blues is set to expire and barring what would be a surprise, he probably won’t be offered / won’t accept a deal to return. While he is in the twilight of his career it seems doubtful that Arnott is ready to call it quits yet. He does have a bit of life left but it’s apparent he no longer can sustain his talents across an entire season.
Look for Arnott to end up in a new town on a new one-year contract.