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‘It’s obviously a message’: Stewart responds to low ice time, line demotion

Jan 29, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

Chris Stewart Getty Images

After playing a season-low 5:32 against the Islanders and getting dropped to the fourth line against the Devils, Chris Stewart didn’t need to be told what it all meant.

“It’s obviously a message,” Stewart said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “So, the message has been delivered and it’s how you respond. I can’t worry about who I’m playing with or all that other stuff.

“I have to worry about what I can control, and that’s how I play. So I have to stick with it here and try to raise my level of play.”

In the first of his two-year, $8.3 million extension — signed on the strength of last year’s 36-points-in-48-games performance — Stewart has been maddeningly inconsistent this season. On the surface, his 15 goals and 25 points through 52 games might seem OK, but eight of those goals came in a six-game span, and he has just two in his last 17 contests.

Saturday’s game on Long Island was one of his worst this season. Stewart was essentially parked, getting just three shifts in each period while sitting the final 11 minutes, and finished minus-2. The next game out, against the Devils, he was demoted to the fourth line alongside Maxim Lapierre and Brenden Morrow.

Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock isn’t one to single out players, but appeared to be referencing Stewart when he said the Blues had “too many passengers” during a recent slump. Hitchcock also added that Stewart needs to play a more direct-line game.

“I need him to stay north, not go east and west,” Hitchcock said. “Sometimes when you have skill people and they’re not getting opportunities, they try to force offense and it ends up being worse.

“So just stay on the north concept and everything will work out fine.”

  1. kingcobraman - Jan 29, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    like most players when the pockets are full of money they figure they just have to show up and all is good…hopefully the reminder will wake him up…

    • bcsteele - Jan 29, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      Agreed. Thank the Lord Steen has more pride than that. He’s been on fire before and after his extension. Hopefully he stays healthy and keeps it up.

    • paperlions - Jan 29, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      Not really, if anything, this just shows that the contract had no effect whatsoever….because this is exactly how Stewart’s entire career has been, flashing of what could be followed by his picture on milk cartons. He has never been consistent in his play or his effort, ever.

      • brockohol - Jan 29, 2014 at 4:37 PM

        You nailed it. For 5-10 game stretches Stewie legitimately looks like one of the best forwards in hockey…and then like all “streaky” players he cools off. The difference with Stewart cooling off is that you might go an entire month and not remember seeing him on the ice.

        He is often referred to as a power forward and he could not be anything further from a power forward. He is not a physical player, if anything he is a finesse player who only produces when he utilizes speed and skill. He rarely hits, does not use his body down low to protect the puck or win battles, and is not much of a presence in front of the net. He does fight sometimes and when he does he kicks ass so I guess that’s where people get the power forward thing from. Hell, Steen and Schwartz are more of a “power forward” than Stewart.

  2. storminator16 - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    The Stewart brothers are good guys but they seem to march to the beat of their own drums. More power to them, but they will both be known as NHL underachievers. Doesn’t make them bad human beings at all, just mediocre hockey players. With that said, I don’t think Hitchcock is the right coach for Chris nor are the Blues the right team for him. Just my opinion.

    • storminator16 - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      “Mediocre” wasn’t the right term to use there. I meant to say “inconsistent”.

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