CAUGHT IN THE NETS
FEELING THE WEIGHT
With Sunday's 4-2 loss to Carolina, the St. Louis Blues have dropped six in a row and are 5-15 in their last 20 games. They are the worst team in the Western Conference and it's a toss-up between the Blues and Penguins as to which team is the most wretched league-wide.
Which brings us to Doug Weight. It seems like only yesterday that Weight arrived in St. Louis from Edmonton, part of a spending orgy that was supposed to bring a Cup to St. Louis. Instead, it has brought the team to the edge of ruin.
Now, as the Blues try to find a new owner, the forward is once again at the center of attention, this time as an important asset the Blues are expected to peddle in order to help forge a future out of the current rubble. Weight, who will turn 36 next week, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and the gifted playmaker will garner a significant amount of attention between now and the March 9 trade deadline, especially given the desire of teams such as Nashville, Ottawa and Calgary to strengthen themselves down the middle.
All of which has left Weight in a most uncomfortable situation. The Blues' woes have made this season one of the most difficult of Weight's 15-year career. Although he has a no-trade clause in his contract, Weight is loath to be seen as lobbying to get out of Dodge. "Loyalty is a big part of what I learned first in New York [with the Rangers] and then in Edmonton," Weight said.
By the same token he can hardly ignore the buzz that surrounds him now wherever he goes. He has heard all the possibilities, all the rumors. And the prospect of winning a Stanley Cup, or at least competing for one, remains an undeniable lure.
"I'd be crazy not to have it on my mind once in awhile. But I don't want it to be a sideshow at all," Weight said. "It's difficult but it's part of the game. It's great that teams are interested. I still feel I have a lot to offer."
And then there's the notion that the Blues might actually want to keep their leading point-getter. Assuming new ownership is found before next season, the Blues will be in a position to re-tool completely with scads of cap room provided ownership gives them leave to spend it. Why not build around Weight and fellow U.S. Olympian Keith Tkachuk? Stranger things have happened.
"We're going to have a remarkable amount of money [under the cap] to spend. Whether it's me anymore or not," Weight said. "Frankly, it could be something that lures other players here."
Regardless, the time will pass quickly between now and March 9. Although Weight hasn't spoken to GM Larry Pleau about the team's plans, he understands he'll have to be able to respond in what could be a short period of time. "I'll have to be prepared and not distracted and have to have an answer ready," Weight said.