Wednesday afternoon word came over the Twitters that D.J. King, the heavyweight left winger for the Blues, was being shipped to the Washington Capitals. In return the Blues are getting Stefan Della Rovere.
Even before either player has a chance to even visit his new city, it's pretty safe to chalk this deal up as a win for the Blues general manager, Doug Armstrong. King, a pugilist with one known skill, had to be moved. Getting a player like Della Rovere, who is considered a fringe NHL prospect, is a win for the Blues. Getting a warm body instead of a bag of pucks is a win for the Blues.
Entering the offseason, the Blues had to make a decision. D.J. King and Cam Janssen, the two designated fighters on the team, were both seeking new deals. And, remarkably, were both healthy. With more and more teams opting to not dress an enforcer, there was simply no way that the Blues would keep around two players with the same skill set.
Janssen and King are fundamentally the exact same player. Both will play 40-60 games and play four minutes a night. Once on the ice, they will be a wrecking ball. They look for hits and look for fights. Both are limited offensively and will only play at even strength.
King probably has more offensive upside the Janssen — King has four goals in 101 games while Cam has scored just two in 206 games — but really, you can't count on either to fill up the stat sheet with anything but penalty minutes.
So the Blues had a choice to make: Cam or D.J. Cam won for two reasons: He's healthy and he's a local boy.
Janssen, a native of Eureka, Mo., grew up a Blues fan. Of all the players on the team, Cam seems the happiest to be a Blue. He was a fan before he came to St. Louis and is a fan not just because he's a Blue. Fans love this stuff. He is us, we are him. The positive P.R. the Blues get from having a local boy running wild can't be topped.
When Cam takes the ice at home, folks go nuts. When he fights and does the WWF crowd-hype thing, it works. He's a showmen for his people, and they love him back.
King, while a nasty fighter who just destroys people, doesn't have that. Cam's fights are boring clutch and jab endurance tests. King's fights are just two guys throwing bombs. King is more entertaining, but he's not the showman like Cam. And he doesn't have the love of his Eureka posse.
Janssen is also healthy. King played in 13 games the last two seasons. He dealt with a shoulder injury and shattered his hand. For a guy who makes his living punching other people, those are two very important parts to have working. He may be healthy now, but the time away from the ice had to do something to his game. Playing that little in two seasons, skills start to decline. The game speeds up.
Cam, on the other hand, has been healthy. When Janssen is wearing a suit and eating press-box food, it's because he's a healthy scratch. Sure, he could easily get hurt, but his track record shows him a healthy guy while King has an injury-prone label.
Really the choice was easy — take the healthy guy, the local guy and use the PR boost. Dump the guy who has battled injuries and hasn't connected with the fans.
The Blues are going into the 2010-11 season with one enforcer: Cam Janssen. And that's the right call.