If you're a sucker for an interesting story line, you would have bet the Blues to win the Western Conference during the preseason. They began the season with burgeoning young stars in Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie, David Backes, David Perron, Roman Polak, and Erik Johnson. They had a mix of veterans like Eric Brewer, Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk and Chris Mason. They had a veteran coach and a Jack Adams finalist behind the bench. Their preseason odds to win the Western Conference were 15 - 1 and looked like a value play early on. But the main reason to bet the Blues to win the Western Conference was Ty Conklin.
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Ty Conklin is this generation's Jim Kelly or Fran Tarkenton. He's been on the losing side of three of the four Stanley Cup Finals as the backup goaltender in Edmonton, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
|2006 - Ty Conklin||1||6||0||1||1||10.00||3||2||.667||0|
|2008 - Ty Conklin||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||.-||-|
|2009 - Ty Conklin||1||20||0||0
| Ty Conklin TOTALS
From the stats above you can tell Conklin hasn't actually contributed much to the three Cup losses, though Edmonton fans will disagree (I still blame Andrew Ladd). We shan't relive the agony of game 1 of the 2006 Cup Finals here, but it stung deeply enough that fan outrage caused Conklin's option to be turned down by Oilers' management. In 2008, even though he carried the Penguins down the stretch while Marc-Andre Fleury was injured, Conklin sat for the duration of the playoffs and Cup finals, not seeing a minute of action as the Penguins fell to the Red Wings. Conklin tried change his luck in 2008-2009 and joined the evil empire of the Detroit Red Wings, a la Marian Hossa. Unfortunately, Conklin's luck followed him to Detroit and his ex-teammates dispatched the Wings, leaving Conklin as a bridesmaid once again.
Now, with the Blues floundering in the not-quite Edmontonian depths of the Western Conference, Conklin will not be crying at the altar in June. The Blues could trade him as a number of teams will likely be looking for a reliable veteran backup heading into the playoffs. Teams like Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Colorado, Calgary, Vancouver, and Buffalo might take a run at a reliable guy to backstop their chances at a Stanley Cup. That Conklin is a reliable backup on a beautiful $1,300,000 per year contract and signed through the end of next year lessens his chances of being dealt. St. Louis' other goalie, Chris Mason, is unrestricted at the end of the year. Couple that with expectations of goalie glut at the trade deadline this year, and it's unlikely that Conklin will get a chance to lose and defend his crown.
Conklin can, however, root for the Blackhawks to make the Cup Finals this year to give Hossa a chance to tie him at the top. Hossa has lost the last two cups in a row, so don't be surprised when the Blackhawks fall to the Capitals or Penguins in the Cup Finals this year.