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Robert Thomas: This Kid is No Joke

‘Goofy’ Kyrou keeps teammates laughing, but opposing D-men have a much different reaction to his on-ice antics.
Robert Thomas

By Lou Korac

Leave it to St. Louis Blues center Robert Thomas to offer the best description of teammate Jordan Kyrou.

The two were sitting together for a post-game interview following a 2-1 win against the expansion Seattle Kraken in January and Thomas didn’t mince his words when asked what Kyrou is like off the ice. “He’s pretty goofy,” Thomas said, laughing before offering a more serious description. “He’s always putting smiles on guys’ faces. He’s always joking around, a fun guy to be around. Not so much in the mornings, though, but as the day goes on, he’s pretty funny, and he just brings a lot of joy to people. But yeah, don’t talk to him in the morning.”

Kyrou looked over to his left, smiled and said, “Thanks, bro. That’s nice of you…I’m not that grumpy. Only until like 9:30 or 10.”

Kyrou and Thomas are part of the next generation of Blues players climbing the ladder and helping the team evolve from the big, bruising, heavy mindset that helped them win a Stanley Cup in 2019 into a more fast and skilled group.

Need an example? Look no further than the Dec. 29 game between St. Louis and Edmonton. Imagine the range of emotions that were going through the mind of Oilers defenseman Dmitri Samorukov when Kyrou had the puck on his stick and nobody between them.

The dynamic Kyrou had just received a pass from teammate Vladimir Tarasenko on his side of the center-ice red line and had only one man left to beat – Samorukov. One on one, Samorukov had no chance. A quick burst by Kyrou and he was gone, and only goalie Mike Smith was between him and the back of the net. Kyrou won that battle with a quick, deft flick of the wrist over the veteran netminder’s glove hand. It gave the Blues a 2-0 lead, on their way to a 4-2 win.

That was just a small sample of what the 6-foot-1, 195-pound speedster can do already, and many believe the 23-year-old is just scratching the surface. “Elite skill,” said veteran Blues center Tyler Bozak. “Something we get to see every day in practice and in the games. It’s fun to watch. He can do a lot of amazing things with the puck and find ways to score, make something out of nothing. We’re lucky to have him."

Added Blues goalie Jordan Binnington: “I know how good he is, how hard he works. It’s really good to see. I’m glad I’m on his team, for sure.” 

Kyrou, a second-round pick (35th overall) by the Blues in 2016, made a name for himself in 55 games last season with 14 goals and 35 points, but he topped both of those marks this year by Game 36. For his efforts, he was named to the All-Star Game, winning out over teammates Tarasenko, Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich.

It took Kyrou, who tore up the OHL while playing for the Sarnia Sting, some time to get to where he is, and that required patience. The offensive gifts were evident, but learning to become the well-rounded player one must be to become an NHLer required perseverance and seasoning in the AHL. So he spent parts of two seasons with the San Antonio Rampage to begin his pro career.

There’s still work to do on the defensive side, but it’s hard to overlook the gifts that Kyrou brings to the table. “He’s been a real good player all year,” said Blues coach Craig Berube. “Pretty consistent all year. He’s producing at a pretty good level. His all-around game has been good. He’s very noticeable out there, and he’s doing some really good things night in and night out. The NHL’s a different league. You’ve got to do things a lot different in the NHL than you do in college or junior hockey.

“These (younger) guys are real good offensive players, but over time here, they’ve managed the game better, managed the puck better, made good decisions. When you don’t have the puck, defensive responsibilities are really important. They have to keep improving and keep doing it. That’s how you gain trust in a player.”

Kyrou feels his patience has paid off. “I put my time in over the years,” he said. “I just continued to work on my game with the coaching staff and work on all the little things I need to do.” 

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