Monday, March 02, 2009

Save Walt!

I am NOT a fan of dumping Walt at the deadline for a prospect, a few pics, and a 3rd liner (we have all of the above, thanks). We are only 3 points out of a playoff spot, and I'm of the firm belief that the team needs his leadership in the locker room and on the ice. You can't have a team that's so young (as my mother put it at the Blues/Thrashers pre-season game - "My God, they're all 12!") and not have someone who is a solid vet. Legace's gone and he was pouty while he was here. Brewer has the emotionality of a stick and is out for the rest of the year. Kariya is gone getting a bionic hip installed.

Looking at the roster, it's Andy MacDonald, Barrett Jackman, and Keith Tkachuk who are the vets. Jackman has been with the team since 1999 as their 1st Round, 17th overall pick. AndyMac's still a new addition. Walt has been here since 2001. There is little doubt in my mind that he cares about the team. As he mentioned in the Post-Dispatch today:

"You know what ... I'm prepared for anything," Tkachuk said after Saturday's 3-1 victory over Phoenix. "If they tell me I'm a Blue Wednesday, I'll be very happy. If they tell me otherwise, then that's something I'll deal with. It's a situation that's going to be what is best for me and my team.

"I'm enjoying myself right now. I hope to be in the playoffs with the Blues. ... The guys know inside (the locker room) how I feel, and that's what is most important to me."

He has a commitment. He waived his NTC once to help the team and wound up getting stuck here in Atlanta (yes, playing with Kovy - but still getting sweeped in the 1st round). He promptly turned around and returned to St. Louis. He doesn't seem to want to uproot his family, and all indications are go on his wanting to retire here.

The guys in the locker room want Walt to stay, too.

"I feel that we need Keith," Mason said. "He's probably the biggest part of our team and our dressing room. He holds everybody accountable. I've never played with a guy like him in my life ... I definitely don't want to lose him."

Mason took it one step further.

"I'll help lead the charge," he said. "I'll go make the 'Don't trade Keith Tkachuk' signs. Personally, from my standpoint, I would love to see Keith stay. But that's part of the game. Management will do whatever they think is best for the team."

It really *would* be demoralizing to take a leader away from a team right at the cusp of them making the playoffs for the first time since the lock-out. It would be Davidson sending a message of being a seller, instead of getting an asset that could strengthen the team. What kind of team is a seller at the deadline? The Isles. The Thrashers, the Sens (if they weren't it denial), the Avs... teams dwelling at the bottom of the standings looking to get picks in a deep draft.

A team 3 points out of a playoff spot is NOT a seller, regardless of how hard the upward climb is. You want support to make that climb - you don't want the bunjee cords cut.


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