Blues Name Ryan O’Reilly Team Captain, Release Schedule For 2021

Dec 23, 2020 at 2:48 pm
click to enlarge Ryan O’Reilly will be the 23rd captain in the team's history. - THEO WELLING
Ryan O’Reilly will be the 23rd captain in the team's history.

The NHL is back! And so are your defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues.

(That’s right, defending Stanley Cup Champions. Look, we all know the Tampa Bay Lightning and hometown hero Pat Maroon have their filthy Florida hands on our trophy right now, but what they won wasn’t the Stanley Cup tournament, it was the bubble hockey COVID Cup.)

But now the almost real-deal NHL is about to kick off and we have all the hot action on updated divisions and the new season.

To limit travel this year all teams will play the 56 game schedule within a newly realigned division. Each team in the East, Central and West will play every other team in its division eight times, while the teams in the North division will play every other team in its division nine or ten times.

The St. Louis Blues have been moved to the West division alongside Central division foes the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild. Filling out the division are the Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and our new rivals, the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Speaking of the Knights and our former captain Alex Pietrangelo, Blues general manager and president of player operations Doug Armstrong announced today that Ryan O’Reilly will be the 23rd captain in team history. The 29-year-old former Conn Smythe and Selke Trophy winner is entering his third season with the Blues and twelfth as an NHL player.

This will be O’Reilly’s first shot at wearing the C. He has played in 804 career NHL games — 153 of those with the Blues. O'Reilly was traded to St. Louis by Buffalo on July 1, 2018 in exchange for Tage Thompson, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, a first-round draft pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a second-round draft pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, and was instrumental in helping lead the Blues to their first Stanley Cup.

Joining O’Reilly in the new leadership core will be Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko, hard nosed grinder Brayden Schenn, and the Blues new number one defenseman Colton Parayko. The group is full of skill, grit, presence and high hockey IQ’s all around.

"We are pleased to announce Ryan as the Captain of the St. Louis Blues," Armstrong says in the announcement. "Ryan, along with Vladimir, Brayden and Colton, will have our full support as we move forward."

"Ryan's work ethic on and off the ice and his commitment day in and day out is second to none," adds head coach Craig Berube. "He leads by example with how hard he works during practices and our games and he relays the right message from our coaching staff to our entire team."

Training camps for teams that qualified for last year's playoffs will begin January 3, with teams who did not being able to start as early as December 31.

The new season will begin January 13 and end May 8. The league will have a traditional sixteen-team, best-of-seven playoff format this year. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs and be placed into divisional brackets for the first few rounds of the playoffs (No.1 seed vs. No. 4 seed, No. 2 seed vs. No. 3 seed).

The four teams that advance to the Stanley Cup Semifinal (known as the Conference Final in a normal year) will be seeded by their regular season points total, with the No. 1 vs. No. 4 seed and No. 2 vs. No. 3.

This format means, in theory, this year's Stanley Cup Final could feature two teams that typically play in the same conference in a traditional season.

Which could mean that the Blues could potentially play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals, though unlikely due to how awful the latter currently are. A matchup previously unheard of!

Teams will begin the year playing games in their home arenas, with some allowing limited attendance. Should the need arise, the NHL will provide a neutral site for teams who can no longer play in their home city.

The Blues kick off the year January 13 in Colorado and return home January 18 for their home opener against the San Jose Sharks. The organization has not announced when they expect to let fans into games, but has said they are working towards that goal.

So lets get ready to leave 2020 in the dust and kick off another year of St. Louis Blues hockey. Time to secure and protect the cup!

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