Blues forward Alexander Steen recently announced his retirement from the NHL. After 15 seasons, many of which he dealt with a chronic back injury, he didn’t get to go out on his terms, but he can be proud of the career that he had, a career that saw him play in 1,018 games while also registering 622 points, 496 of those coming during his time with the Blues.
Related: Blues Name Ryan O’Reilly New Captain
While his on-ice production was impressive, the thing that he will be remembered for most is something that most people outside of the organization and media didn’t know about him. That is, his major role in the team’s success off the ice.
Treating His Teammates Like Members Of His Family
It has been stated by both the media and from his teammates that Steen would do anything for his team. That included something as small as inviting them to his house for dinner or a beer, to something as big as giving his teammates a place to spend the holidays. In fact, a few years ago he and his wife cooked Christmas dinner for the players who didn’t have a significant other or family in town and invited them over to his house to spend Christmas with them.
As Steen’s former teammate Chris Butler said in an interview with the St. Louis Post -Dispatch:
“He’s been such an inclusive guy since I got to St. Louis, especially someone like me where I was back and forth a bit. There wasn’t ever a time when I was up or down where I didn’t have a message from him, ‘When you get in town, come over for dinner or stop by for a beer. If you don’t have plans for the holidays, you’re welcome at our house’… He was the guy making sure everyone was taken care of and felt like they were part of the organization, part of the team, and part of the puzzle.”
Former Blues Goalie Jake Allen also said that when guys were down and didn’t want to go out when they were on the road he would drag them out anyway. Steen knew that it was the right thing to do instead of intentionally leaving a guy out of a team outing just because they said that they didn’t feel like going out.
Being a team-first guy was something that Steen took pride in during his career.
A Mentor to the Young Players
One of the main reasons Steen was asked to take a fourth-line role along with reduced responsibilities on the ice was so he could act as a mentor to players such as Ivan Barbashev and Oskar Sundqvist.
And serving as a mentor to players just entering the organization is something that he did really well during his career. As Colton Parayko relayed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch;
” You knew you could ask him anything, go to him for anything, that’s special as a young guy knowing that you have that… It didn’t even have to be anything hockey-related. It could be outside hockey and that’s what was really cool. I loved playing with him.”
Blues GM Doug Armstrong also said during Steen’s retirement press conference that he held the young players accountable and gave them a “Shoulder to cry on.”
Just ask players like Jake Neighbours and Scott Perunovich how much they’ll miss a guy like Steen. It’s not like they can’t use the advice of an experienced NHLer as they begin their careers.
Steen: A Future Coach?
With his reputation as a team-first guy that helps his teammates to grow and develop as both players and people, perhaps there’s an opportunity to get involved in the game at another level. Perhaps his next steps will lead him into a role in coaching or player development.
As Doug Armstrong said during the initial announcement of Steen’s Retirement; “If he wants to stay in the game, he has all the pedigree to coach or manage or do whatever he wants.”
Steen’s leadership off the ice is something that will be greatly missed by his teammates As Parayko pointed out, Steen was a teammate that “Everyone wants to have.”
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