DENVER – Keep in mind that about half of the Blues’ roster appeared on various “trade bait” NHL rosters early in the 2018-19 season. Before the Blues went from worst to first and won the Stanley Cup, that is.
So the fact that Ryan O’Reilly’s name has recently been covered as a potential trading chip for the Blues – including TSN and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun – shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially since his contract expires at the end of the season.
However, it came as a surprise to O’Reilly when a Colorado reporter mentioned it to him on Monday after the Blues’ morning skate at Ball Arena.
“I haven’t heard that, or anything like that,” O’Reilly said, adding that he doesn’t pay attention to what’s on social media.
“I’m here (with the Blues). This is where I want to be. I believe in this team. I believe in myself here. Hope you don’t get to that. I want to turn this around. I think we have a team that can fight for the cup. You know, We’ve been a part of that.
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“So, it is what it is. There are rumors flying around. I don’t really care about it. I’m part of the Blues. I want to be here. I want to win here and I still think we have a great chance, a great team to do it.”
It wouldn’t be at all surprising if Blues general manager Doug Armstrong got calls from all over the league about players. This is what happens when your team is in the midst of an eight-game losing streak.
The Blues have since shown signs of life, winning their last two games entering Monday’s contest with the Colorado Avalanche. But they still have work to do to get out of that hole.
“There have been a lot of meetings on this run, through different people and me and different things we’ve done,” O’Reilly said. “Yeah, I’ve been struggling. The other guys have been struggling as well. Obviously all our offensive production is down this year and we’re struggling to find that compared to last year where it’s gotten a little bit easier.
“But I think we all come to a realization and make little adjustments, and that’s why he starts building back up and getting better. When things go wrong and you start to overthink things, that’s when it kind of kicks in. And that’s what we kind of got into.”
“I think now, we’re starting to trust ourselves a little bit more, trust each other more. And you can see we’re starting to play better.”
The Blues Mothers’ first-ever trip is underway, with the mothers of all but a few of their players participating in the team’s games against the Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks on this trip.
“So excited,” said Robert Thomas’ mother, Deborah. “It’s like a dream come true, really. I never thought we’d get the chance to come. And I’m so lucky the Blues did it with the mums, and they brought us in.
“It is special to spend time with the sons and with Robert. And to see what goes on behind the scenes for them day in and day out.”
Deborah was the designated moms’ reporter on Monday, taking a question to coach Craig Berube after his morning ski during his information session. I asked Birobi who was his favorite blues player.
Birobi was a model of diplomacy in his answer.
“This is difficult,” he said with a smile. “I won’t give you a single player. I really like our guys. I’ve loved our guys for a long time.”
(Though words are spotty in practice).
“We have great boys here, one of whom is your son,” Berubi continued. “But I love all of our boys so much. They’re great guys, they’re a great team. A lot of personality, so you obviously did a great job raising him.”
The parents’ all-time question came up during the Parents’ trip for the 2019-20 season, when Mitch Bozak — Tyler’s father — asked Berubi why Bozak didn’t get more ice time.
Berube did not miss a beat with his answer:
“Well, I finished his last minutes and I haven’t got any results yet,” Berubi said with a laugh at the time. “I was remembering his goals this year and his stats. Like 12 to 13 minutes, that’s the time he scores all the time.”
Veteran Robert Bortuzzo, who missed his third straight game Monday night with an upper-body injury and is currently on injured reserve, took part in the morning skate for the Blues but wasn’t yet ready to return to the lineup.
“He’s skating now, so he’s feeling better,” Berubi said. “He’s been skiing two days in a row now. … I think he’s definitely making progress.”