When longtime St. Louis Blues forward David Backes signed a five-year, $30 million deal with the Boston Bruins on July 1st, the team wasn’t just losing a player who could suit up on the wing or down the middle. They were losing a captain, a leader, a voice.
While management is still searching internally for various new leaders and voices of the club, St. Louis has selected their captain.
Alex Pietrangelo Named Captain of the St. Louis Blues
The Blues announced today that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will wear the “C” on his chest in the 2016-2017 season. Pietrangelo is the 10th Blues defenseman to bear the honor in franchise history. Eric Brewer‘s tenure from 2008-2011 marks the last time a St. Louis blueliner was appointed captain. Backes led the team from 2011-2016, amassing five straight playoff appearances (three series wins) with him at the helm of the roster.
Pietrangelo, 26, was selected 4th overall by the Blues at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. In 459 regular season games, the King City, ON native has registered 51 goals, 204 assists and a +53 +/- rating. In 46 playoff games, Pietrangelo has scored four goals and added 18 assists.
His average ice time during the regular season stood at 26:18 last year. This placed Pietrangelo sixth in the NHL in that category. In the postseason, he trailed Kris Letang (28:53) for the highest average time-on-ice by a player who suited up for over ten games (Pietrangelo’s time-on-ice averaged 28:48).
Pietrangelo on what it means to be captain of the St. Louis Blues:
“As captain, I’ll not only represent the organization but also the city of St. Louis to the best of my capabilities. It makes me excited to know I could potentially be the first captain to raise the Stanley Cup in the city of St. Louis.”
Blues GM Doug Armstrong on Pietrangelo (via the Blues official website):
“He touches every facet of our team: power play, penalty kill, shutting games down, trying to score at the end of the game. He’s just an elite player. When his name comes up for Team Canada (in international tournaments), he’s a lock when I talk to Mike Babcock and coaches around the League. He’s viewed as a top player. We’re certainly lucky to have him, and when you add the character – I think he’s going to be a great captain for the Blues.”
Armstrong also revealed the four Blues alternate captains (two at home, two on the road): Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock on Pietrangelo:
“His composure at critical times in tight spots is very impressive and that’s why there’s a trust in the coaching staff that you could put him out against the best players in the world all the time and you’re going to usually have an advantage. That’s a great feeling.”
Pietrangelo remains under contract with St. Louis for the next four years, with a modified no-trade clause beginning in the 2017-18 season. In 2013, he signed a seven-year, $45.5 million contract after a brief holdout that spilled over into the beginning of training camp. Only superstar winger Vladimir Tarasenko ($7.5 million) has a higher annual average value (AAV) on the team than Pietrangelo ($6.5 million).
Previously, Pietrangelo spent three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Mississauga/Niagara IceDogs and served as captain. He spent half of the 2009-2010 campaign with the Barrie Colts after failing to join the Blues full-time after a nine-game tryout. In the 2010 OHL All-Star Classic, representing Barrie, he captained the Eastern Conference.