Wow! The NHL offseason moves fast. I feel like it was just last week that I was watching Ovechkin celebrate on what seemed like a never-ending bender (He may actually still be partying right now).
A lot has happened in the past few weeks, so let’s take a second to slow down, and get a good look at one of the new skaters for the St. Louis Blues.
Tyler Bozak is a 32 year old Center who has been in the league since 2009. Up until this point, Tyler’s entire career has been spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he’s had the pleasure of playing with some of the elite young guns in the game, over the past few years. Coming in at 199 lbs, and 6’1″, he’s got a slightly larger frame than that of Paul Stastny. In his first NHL season, he spent time going from minors to NHL, back and forth, which is why he only had 37 starts for the season. If we remove that outlier, Tyler has been average 69.5 starts per season, including an 81 game campaign just last year. Over the course of his career, he’s averaged just north of 40 points per season, and has an average Face-off win percentage of 53.6%.
But enough of the metrics. While I think Bozak is a great acquisition to bolster of lineup of the Blues, where I think he really shines is his ability to become a new fan favorite, and provide a strong cohesiveness in the locker room.
Bozak has loyalty in his blood. The main reason he even left Toronto to begin with is because they were wanting to get younger, so it made sense for both parties to mutually part ways, and for Tyler to seek opportunities in STL. His commitment to one team, which has only made playoff appearances in 3 of the 9 years he’s been with the squad, and only made it past the first round once just shows that if a team believes in him, he will give his all back to them. Take comfort in the fact that we’re very unlikely to see Bozak perform like the previous wearer of #21 when things got tough.
In case you haven’t done so yet, take 10 minutes out of your day to read Tyler’s letter to the city of Toronto. In it, he goes into detail about everything he loved about the city, including his favorite memories, some stories of old players, and some of the things he’ll miss the most. He comes across as the kind of player who dives into the atmosphere of the city he’s playing for, and someone who genuinely enjoys interacting with fans, and playing for the love of the game.
Tyler Bozak recalling what being an NHLer is all about:
“All the visits to the SickKids hospital in Toronto, those were the most important days to me. To make a difference in their lives and see their faces — it was a priceless experience. And I thank the Leafs for the opportunity to do so. It’s truly a world class organization.
That’s what being a Toronto Maple Leaf meant to me.
Tyler Bozak on Fan Interactions:
“You all meant the world to me. Every conversation in public — even the ones where you told me I needed to be better — will stick with me. Because you cared, no matter what. And as a player that’s what you want.
Every high five, every selfie, every moment … I appreciate them all so much.”
Tyler didn’t forget to address his new home crowd though. He wraps up his letter to Toronto explaining why he felt St. Louis would be the next stop in his career.
“The very first call I got this off-season was from Doug Armstrong, the St. Louis Blues GM.
He told me about the city, the team and his plan. I spoke with some other teams and there were a few good offers, but St. Louis was a perfect fit.
Mostly because I don’t want to block another Vladimir Tarasenko shot ever again.
I’m kidding. (I’m not kidding.) I know how good the Blues are. They’ve been so hard to play against for years. They’ve got great talent, and even though I was fortunate enough to accomplish some great things in Toronto, I never got the one thing I’ve always really wanted.
The Stanley Cup.
I want to win a Cup. So damn bad.
That’s why I signed in St. Louis. There’s your headline. Print it.”
Tyler later goes into talking about how he reached out to ex-Blue Paul Stastny about what the culture is around STL, and how great of a place it would be for him to raise a family, and how his son would have to adjust to having a different shade of blue on his new hockey jersey.
Read those quotes from Tyler and try not to smile. A warm-hearted, thoughtful player, who loves his fans, and the surrounding community just as much as he loves the game he’s playing. A guy who has only known one sheet of home ice for his entire career, who “wants to win a cup so damn bad” and thought STL was the place to chase that dream. He’s got determination, and drive to achieve the ultimate goal in hockey. Lifting the cup.
Again, I encourage all Blues fans to spend 10 minutes reading Tyler’s letter to his old city. It’s a great example of the kind of high class, respectable player that we can all get behind, even before he steps out onto the ice.
Only time will truly tell how the additions to the Blues roster will effect the team moving forward. I for one and incredibly excited for this October.
Thanks for reading,
Let’s Go Blues