ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Cory Stillman says he nearly fell off his chair when he got news he was being traded to the St. Louis Blues, in the the 11th-hour of the trade deadline of the 2000-01 NHL season.
His Calgary Flames were bottom feeders that year, but St. Louis was in a playoff spot. And he says that change of setting and being around a head coach like Joel Quenneville made a positive affect on the rest of his career.
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“Learning what expectations are and learning to win,” Stillman says. “Realizing sometimes you don’t have to be at the rink for two hours. You practice for 40 minutes, but are expected to be at your best every night and if you’re not, someone else is going to do it.”
Proof that he really improved as a player is found in his year-by-year point totals. Before St. Louis, he averaged 37.6 points per season, and in two full seasons in St. Louis he averaged 56 points. And his two seasons immediately after leaving St. Louis, were the two best of his career, with 80 and 76 points with the Tampa Bay lightning and Carolina Hurricanes respectively.
And in those two seasons he won back-to-back Stanley Cups.
But in St. Louis he described every aspect of his next two seasons as ‘awesome.’ Especially the idea by Quenneville to invite players to bring their kids to the rink and keep the locker room feeling like a family. The only regrets seems to be failing to win a cup in the 2000-01 season, when they made it to the Conference Finals.
“It’s exciting when you’re playing, and when as soon as you lose and the other team wins those four games it’s just total heartbreaking,” Stillman says. “And it’s like ‘what just happened? And that’s what happened to us.”
You can hear more of the conversation Yake had with KMOX’s Alex Ferrario during the intermission report of Thursday night’s Blues vs Tampa Bay Lightning game at 7 p.m. Listen on AM 1120 or Sports Radio 98.1 HD3.
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