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Hitchcock attributes Stewart’s down year to lack of fitness

Jun 20, 2012, 2:57 PM EST

Chris Stewart 2

One of the big mysteries out of St. Louis this year was the poor play of Chris Stewart.

The 24-year-old saw his offensive production plummet and ended up a healthy scratch twice in the postseason, a stunning development from a guy that was — as recently as last season — considered one of the league’s best young power forwards.

Now, we’re starting to learn more about Stewart’s struggles.

Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock spoke with Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Stewart’s major issue this year — a lack of fitness.

“He’s got to play with a high level of physicality for seven months, nine months. That’s a long time,” Hitchcock explained. “You can’t do it unless you’re in optimum shape. His season was a roller-coaster. He was up, he was down, he was up, he was down.

“In order to play the type of game he needs to play, it requires an unbelievable level of fitness. It’s not a game of skill. It’s a game of grit and skill. In order to play that game, you’ve got to be in unbelievable shape. Otherwise, you break down.”

One wonders if this is related to Stewart’s playing weight. He’s listed at 232 pounds — the heaviest player on St. Louis roster — and stands 6-foot-2, which is a pretty solid frame.

(I’m not saying this is the case, because some guys play better when they’re heavier. But it’s definitely worth mentioning.)

Regardless, Stewart has made amends for his down year by joining Team Biosteel, a professional sports training and nutrition group that counts Boston’s Tyler Seguin and Montreal’s Carey Price among its clients.

Stewart’s new dedication to fitness has already impressed Hitchcock.

“Stewy’s figured out that he wants to have a long career,” he said. “It’s not like he’s suddenly found a trainer. What he’s found is that he can only get so far himself doing the training.

“Now he’s got somebody pushing him really hard everyday. I’m really proud of him.”

  1. jernster21 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I love Stewy and hope nothing but the best for the guy. If he truly dedicates himself, he can be a dominating force in this league and put up 30+ goals a year. You see glimmers of amazing things from him (at least I did when he played for the Avs) but other times you see someone who isn’t motivated at all. Hopefully it’ll all come together and he has a great year next season which results in a big pay day/long term deal.

  2. creasemasta41 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Possible sleeper in fantasy next year?

  3. davebabychreturns - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Boy when Ken Hitchcock is complaining about your fitness level you know you’ve got problems.

  4. ericcartman69 - Jun 21, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    Sure, Stewart is out of shape….a trainer may help with that. He is also a chronic pot smoker, he’s lazy and he spends wayyyyy too much time hitting on his teammates girlfriends and wives. Not to mention the Buick size chip on his shoulder. A trainer isn’t going to help with those issues. The guy is a cancer in the lockerroom, thats a big reason the Avs traded him. He’s a troubled young man, for sure.

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