1998–99 St. Louis Blues season

1998–99 St. Louis Blues season

The 1998–99 NHL season first came realignment, as the NHL went from four to six divisions. The Stanley Cup winners were the Dallas Stars, who won the Buffalo Sabres in six games with a 4–2 score.

NHLTeamSeason
Season=1998–99
Team=St. Louis Blues
Conference=Western
ConferenceRank=5th
Division=Central
DivisionRank=2nd
Record=37–32–13
HomeRecord=18–17–6
RoadRecord=19–15–7
GoalsFor=237
GoalsAgainst=209
GeneralManager=Larry Pleau
Coach=Joel Quenneville
Captain=Chris Pronger
AltCaptain=
Arena=Kiel Center
Attendance=
GoalsLeader=Pavol Demitra
AssistsLeader=Pavol Demitra
PointsLeader=Pavol Demitra
PIMLeader=
WinsLeader=
GAALeader=
Despite the loss of Brett Hull the Blues made the playoffs for the 20th straight season by finishing in 2nd place with a record of 37–32–13.

ummary

It was an eventful season for the National Hockey League. First came realignment, as the NHL went from four to six divisions. Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington were grouped in the Eastern Conference's new Southeast Division and Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Vancouver moved into the new Northwest Division in the Western Conference.

Two days before the New York Rangers' season ended, Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement. He held or shared 61 NHL records, including most goals (894), most assists (1,963) and most points (2,857).
Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins led the league in scoring for the second straight year with 127 points and won the Hart Trophy as MVP. It was the third year in a row that the trophy went to a player from the Czech Republic; goaltender Dominik Hasek had won it the previous two years. Four of the top six scorers were from Europe. Teemu Selanne of Finland and Anaheim won the first Richard Trophy as the leading goal scorer and was second to Jagr in total points. Peter Forsberg of Sweden and the Colorado Avalanche was fourth and Alexei Yashin of the Soviet Union and the Ottawa Senators finished sixth. The top scorer among rookies was another Czech, Milan Hejduk of the Avalanche.

The Dallas Stars again had the league's best record, with 114 points to lead the Pacific Division. The New Jersey Devils led the Atlantic Division with 105 points while the Ottawa Senators were tops in the Northeast Division with 103. Colorado Avalanche, Detroit, and Carolina were the other division leaders.

Dallas swept Edmonton in the opening round and eliminated St. Louis in a six-game series that included three games that went into overtime. In the conference championship series, the Stars trailed the Avalanche, 3–2, but won at Colorado to even the series and the won again at home to get into the Stanley Cup winners.The Buffalo Sabres, who had finished fourth in the Northeast Division, swept the first-place Ottawa Senators in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, then eliminated the Boston Bruins in a six-game series and the Toronto Maple Leafs in five games to get to the finals.

It seemed as if the Stanley Cup championship ought to be a breeze for Dallas, but the Sabres gave the Stars a real battle. They won the first game in overtime at Dallas and, after the Stars won the next two, the Sabres evened the series. Dallas took a 3–2 lead by winning at home. Game 6, at Buffalo, went into the third overtime. Brett Hull scored a controversial goal with 5:09 remaining in the extra period to win the game and the series. Replays clearly showed that Hull had a skate in the crease when he scored, but there was no review.
Joe Nieuwendyk of Dallas won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He scored 11 goals, including 7 game-winning goals, in the post-season. [ [http://www.hickoksports.com/history/nhl199899.shtml#hist1 Hickok Sports] ]

Offseason

Blues captain Chris Pronger was in midseason form during one of the team's voluntary scrimmages in late August. After 90 minutes of exhausting four-on-four hockey with only eight players per team, Pronger was campaigning to prolong the game.

The sentiment was nothing new for a man who logged more ice time per game (30:37) than any other player in the league last season. And when Pronger wasn't on the ice, it seemed that Norris Trophy winner Al MacInnis was. At 35, MacInnis had the finest season of his outstanding 16-year career. He led NHL defensemen in scoring with 62 points, averaged more than 29 minutes per game (fourth in the league) and was +33 on a team whose next-highest mark in that category was center Craig Conroy's +14. The problem for the Blues was finding four other defensemen they wanted to put on the ice.

In training camp the Blues were getting ready for the regular-season wars. During intrasquad games MacInnis and Pronger exchanged slashes -- MacInnis called them "love taps" -- and Pronger fought rookie forward Brandon Sugden and had a nasty mid-ice collision with defenceman Jamie Rivers, who was subsequently lost in the waiver draft. That ill-tempered defense will help goalie Roman Turek, who had sparkling numbers (16–3–3, 2.08 goals-against average) as Ed Belfour's backup in Dallas last season. Turek, 29, will get his first crack at being a No. 1 goalie now that Grant Fuhr has been shipped to Calgary. Netminding was a problem for the Blues in 1998–99: St. Louis allowed the fewest shots of any team in the league, but its goals-against average ranked only 14th.

The scoring load will fall to 24-year-old forward Pavol Demitra, who broke out last season and led the team with 37 goals and 89 points. His 10 game-winning goals were one behind league-leader Brett Hull of the Stars. Crafty center Pierre Turgeon had a strong postseason (13 points in 13 games) and a solid training camp. The rookie to watch is 22-year-old forward Jochen Hecht, a German who had two goals in five playoff games after a late-season call-up. He has outstanding size (6 ft 3 in, 200 pounds) and skill and is versatile enough to play any position up front.

The Blues are a team with a scrappy attitude, a handful of stars -- count 41-year-old coach Joel Quenneville among them -- and a future among the Western Conference's elite teams. [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hockey/nhl/preview/team_preview/stl_preview/ CNN/SI] ]

NHL drafts

The 1998 NHL Entry Draft was held on June 27 at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo, New York. A total of 258 players were drafted.

There may not be any future Hall of Famers among the 258 players chosen in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, but there was plenty of talent to go around.Leading the talent pool is Vincent Lecavalier -- the No. 1 selections taken by the Tampa Bay Lightning who has been compared to Lemieux.Not even Lecavalier, a player some have compared to Lemieux because of his position (center), height (6-foot-4) and origins (French Canadien), was certain of his immediate hockey destination after being picked No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay.While not expected to make an immediate impact, Lecavalier's selection as No. 1 was a no-brainer for the Lightning. He was the top-rated prospect by the NHL's Central Scouting Service after a 44-goal, 71-assist season with Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The Nashville Predators felt just as highly about David Legwand. The NHL's newest team, which filled out its initial roster with 26 players in Friday's expansion draft, traded up one spot with San Jose to get the No. 2 pick in the Entry Draft.Legwand of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, is another product of Canadian juniors, which traditionally dominates the draft. The 6–1 center from Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League was one of 21 junior players of the 27 selected in the first round, and one of 132 in the 258-player pool.

There were 139 forwards taken in the draft, along with 83 defensemen and 23 goaltenders. The remaining 13 players' positions were unidentified.There were few surprises among the first four picks -- Legwand was also rated No. 2 by Central Scouting. The next two picks went pretty much according to form, with San Jose taking defenceman Brad Stuart from Regina of the Western Hockey League and Vancouver picking defenceman Bryan Allen from Oshawa of the OHL. Allen was rated No. 3 by Central Scouting and Stewart No. 4. After that, there was a wide disparity in thinking between Central Scouting and the team scouts.

Dimitri Kalinin, a Russian defenceman rated No. 1 among Europeans, wasn't selected until the No. 18 pick by the Buffalo Sabres. Mathieu Biron, a defenceman from the QMJHL rated seventh by Central Scouting, lasted until the 21st pick when he was selected by the Los Angeles Kings.Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was Russian center Nikolai Antropov, the No. 17-rated European. He was the No. 10 pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The draft was generally considered weak for goaltenders and Patrick Desrochers of the OHL was the first goalie picked when he went No. 14 to Phoenix. Mathieu Chouinard, who played in the QMJHL, was the only other goaltender picked in the first round and went right behind Desrochers to Ottawa.

Some familiar names came up in the draft when Montreal picked center Eric Chouinard in the first round, Colorado picked Philippe Sauve in the second and Calgary picked Shaun Sutter in the fourth. All are sons of former NHL players, Guy Chouinard, Bob Sauve and Brian Sutter.Trading activity was at a minimum, except mostly for draft picks. In one of the few significant deals, Philadelphia sent Paul Coffey, a 14-time All-Star defenceman, to Chicago for a fifth-round draft choice. Skrobat, a Russian defenceman, was the final name called after nine rounds and 10 hours of activity. [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hockey/nhl/1998/draft/news/1998/06/28/nhl_entry/ CNN/SI] ]

Regular season

Despite the loss of Brett Hull the Blues made the playoffs for the 20th straight season by finishing in 2nd place with a record of 37–32–13. Helping to keep the Blues playoff streak alive was Al MacInnis who won the Norris trophy as the best defenceman in the NHL, while Pavol Demitra provided the scoring touch with 37 goals. In the playoffs the Blues would find themselves in a quick hole as they trailed the Phoenix Coyotes 3 games to 1. However the Blues would rally and take the series in 7 games. However, in the 2nd round the Bleus would be knocked off again as they are beaten by the Dallas Stars led by Brett Hull in 6 games. Hull would go on to score the Stanley Cup Clinching goal for the Stars.

* Bright spots
# Chris Pronger is poised to become THE defenceman in the NHL, if he's not already.
# Everybody wondered who would step up to replace Brett Hull's goals and, poof, here comes Pavol Demitra with 37.
# LW Jochen Hecht is turning heads and should make the team.
* Gray areas
# Geoff Courtnall missed 58 games with a concussion, but has looked good as new in camp. Still, those head injuries are tricky.
# Everybody likes Roman Turek's potential.
# Jury still out on young guns like Michal Handzus, Jamal Mayers, Tyson Nash and Lubos Bartecko.

eason standings

Right wing

"Note: GP= Games played; G= Goals; A= Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalties in minutes"

Player stats: playoff season

Center

"Note: GP= Games played; G= Goals; A= Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalties in minutes"

Defense

"Note: GP= Games played; G= Goals; A= Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalties in minutes"

Playoffs

NHLBracket
RD1=Conference Quarterfinals
RD2=Conference Semifinals
RD3=Conference Finals
RD4=Stanley Cup Finals
group1=Eastern Conference
group2=Western Conference
RD1-seed01=E1
RD1-team01=Penguins
RD1-score01=4
RD1-seed02=E2
RD1-team02=Devils
RD1-score02=3
RD1-seed05=E3
RD1-team05=Bruins
RD1-score05=4
RD1-seed06=E4
RD1-team06=Hurricanes
RD1-score06=2
RD1-seed07=E5
RD1-team07=Sabres
RD1-score07=4
RD1-seed08=E6
RD1-team08=Senators
RD1-score08=0
RD1-seed03=E7
RD1-team03=Maple Leafs
RD1-score03=4
RD1-seed04=E8
RD1-team04=Philadelphia Flyers
RD1-score04=2
RD1-seed13=W1
RD1-team13=Stars
RD1-score13=4
RD1-seed14=W2
RD1-team14=Oilers
RD1-score14=0
RD1-seed15=W3
RD1-team15=Red Wings
RD1-score15=4
RD1-seed16=W4
RD1-team16=Mighty Ducks
RD1-score16=0
RD1-seed11=W5
RD1-team11=Sharks
RD1-score11=2
RD1-seed12=W6
RD1-team12=Avalanche
RD1-score12=4
RD1-seed09=W7
RD1-team09=Blues
RD1-score09=4
RD1-seed10=W8
RD1-team10=Coyotes
RD1-score10=3
RD2-seed03=E1
RD2-team03=Penguins
RD2-score03=2
RD2-seed04=E7
RD2-team04=Maple Leafs
RD2-score04=4
RD2-seed01=E5
RD2-team01=Sabres
RD2-score01=4
RD2-seed02=E3
RD2-team02=Bruins
RD2-score02=2
RD2-seed07=W1
RD2-team07=Stars
RD2-score07=4
RD2-seed08=W7
RD2-team08=Blues
RD2-score08=2
RD2-seed05=W6
RD2-team05=Avalanche
RD2-score05=4
RD2-seed06=W3
RD2-team06=Red Wings
RD2-score06=1
RD3-seed01=E7
RD3-team01=Maple Leafs
RD3-score01=1
RD3-seed02=E5
RD3-team02=Sabres
RD3-score02=4
RD3-seed03=W6
RD3-team03=Avalanche
RD3-score03=3
RD3-seed04=W1
RD3-team04=Stars
RD3-score04=4
RD4-seed02=W1
RD4-team02=Stars
RD4-score02=4
RD4-seed01=E5
RD4-team01=Sabres
RD4-score01=2

Awards and honors

All-Star teams

ee also

* List of Stanley Cup champions
* 1998 NHL Entry Draft
* 46th National Hockey League All-Star Game
* National Hockey League All-Star Game
* NHL All-Rookie Team
* 1998 in sports

References

External links

* [http://www.hickoksports.com/history/nhl199899.shtml Hickok Sports]
* [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hockey/nhl/1998/draft/news/1998/06/28/nhl_entry/ CNN/SI]
* [http://www.nhl.com/ The National Hockey League Web Site]
* [http://blues.nhl.com/ Official website of the St. Louis Blues]
* [http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nhl/stlouis/blues.html St. Louis Blues Website]
* [http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/seasons/teams/0000361999.html Blues on Hockey Database]


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