Tuning Bluenotes

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

It was one of the biggest messes in the NHL, and poor John Davidson, mop and bucket in hand and knee-deep in slop last November, must have wondered why he ever left New York to try to clean it up.

His last-place St. Louis Blues were playing to crowds of 5,000, dragging the city's great hockey tradition through the muck.

Now? Holy cow.

After a 7-20-5 start, St. Louis, under new coach Andy Murray, is 21-7-4 since. Davidson also landed a high handful of draft picks and building blocks for UFAs Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk, and created an atmosphere that might very well lure both of them back this summer.

"I enjoyed it there, loved playing there. They're definitely on the radar this summer," said Guerin. "J.D.has done an unbelievable job. He's a very classy guy - he treats the guys incredibly well. He's going to do great, he really is. Guys love playing for him."

That's painful

Which hurt worse for Edmonton? Losing Marty Reasoner, the third Oiler Derek Boogaard has injured in the last three games? Or watching Boogaard in the post-game interview, with a big grin on his face, saying "I knew they weren't going to do anything?" ... Why on earth would Philly mortgage anything for a rental goalie in Marty Biron, unless they have an agreement in place to sign him in the summer. In which case, why on earth would Biron sign with Philadelphia, the NHL's goalie graveyard? ... Jackets winger Jody Shelley is no fan of Nashville's newfound swagger. "They're a team that really loves themselves," he said. "And you love to beat a team like that." ... Detroit's scouting staff knows its stuff. They've unearthed some awesome talent from deep in the draft, but you have to wonder about trading for Jason Williams for Kyle Calder, who has fewer points and is a league-worst minus-31.

For sale or rent

So who's the better playoff leader? A) Tkachuk - minus-16 in 81 postseason games, with two stretch drive suspensions? Or B) Todd Bertuzzi, with 14 career playoff points in 10 years, and one post-season suspension? Feel free to go with C) None of the above ... Talk about blowing up in your face. If Oilers officials leave that long-time season ticket holder alone, rather than hauling him into a backroom and insisting he rip the "Trade Lowe" tape off his Oilers jersey, maybe 200 people see the hand-made protest. Instead, "Big Brother Puts Screws to Fan in Attempt To Stamp Out Free Speech" made them look like petty, thin-skinned bullies on the evening news.

Fight club

So, fighting is the biggest reason the NHL hasn't caught on in the United States? You could have fooled Detroit coach Mike Babcock: "I'm always hearing how fighting shouldn't be a part of the game," he said. "But everyone stands up and cheers about it." ... Bad timing: The Blues sign D Eric Brewer to a four-year, $17 million contract on Saturday, and on Sunday Brewer goes minus-4 ... The Dry Wit of the Week Award goes to Jeff O'Neill, lamenting the abuse against Mats Sundin that isn't being called: "It's not like he is not noticeable out there, he's the best player on the ice, he's six-foot-five and he gets high-sticked in front of four referees. It's just kind of weird that there's not a call." And you thought subtle sarcasm was a lost art ... Ryan Smyth is a great guy, hard working, fantastic in the community, but it's hard to feel sorry for him. He made a business decision, that $27 million over five years wasn't enough to stay in Edmonton. Live with it.


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