If Alexander Steen is in the St. Louis lineup on opening night — and Steen thinks that’s a realistic goal — the Blues might have the World Cup to thank.
Steen, 32, went under the knife following the season to repair a shoulder injury, and while he was one of the originally selected members of the Swedish team for the tournament, he had to be replaced before the competition started. And even though he wasn’t able to recover in time for the World Cup, Steen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford that it gave him something to work towards and that has put him in position to get back into action earlier than expected.
“I wouldn’t have had to be as intense in the day-to-day stuff in the summer (if not for the World Cup),” Steen told Rutherford. “But now that we have time on our side, we don’t have to be as intense about everything, kind of give the shoulder some days to rest. But it’s at such a good place now, I’m not at all worried about where it will be in a month.”
Incredibly, Steen says he actually might have been able to make it in time for the World Cup, but remaining on the Swedish roster would have meant missing the pre-tournament games and only suiting up for action once the round robin play began. But the World Cup is behind Steen now, and all eyes are on his new, one-month timeline because that would put Steen back in action come the second week of October.
Returning in the middle of October would put Steen right on time to suit up for the Blues’ season-opening contest against the Chicago Blackhawks, which is a matchup that has great significance right out of the gate. The only possible stumbling block at this point, Steen told Rutherford, is how his shoulder holds up through contact.
Even if he needs to miss a few games to star tthe season, though, Steen said he’s not doubting he’ll be back at some point in October. That’s good news for the Blues, even if they’d probably love to see him back on opening night.
However, It won’t be anything new for the Blues if Steen is forced to miss the start of the season. Staying healthy hasn’t been Steen’s strong suit, though. Since coming to the Blues by way of a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Steen hasn’t played more than 74 games in a single season and he has dealt with a litany of ailments, including a broken wrist, ankle injury and concussions.
This season hopes to be different, though, and it could be one of the biggest of Steen’s career. Steen enters the final season of his deal with St. Louis and is looking to recapture his 20-goal, 60-point form, while the Blues are attempting to build off of a Western Conference final appearance in the final season of Ken Hitchcock’s coaching career.
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