On a balmy Tuesday afternoon at Enterprise Center, Alexander Steen fielded questions via a Zoom call with media members after announcing his retirement from the St. Louis Blues last week. Steen cited the injury he was battling made it impossible for him to continue as a member of the Blues.
"There was a time there in Edmonton when I was started getting some different uncomfortable pain when I knew it was a little bit different of an injury and was probably more serious," Steen said. "We worked at it, and it just wasn't bouncing back like other injuries do with time off or rehab and treatment and other things."
Steen ran the gauntlet when it came to rehabbing the injury, but nothing worked. Doctors, specialists, trainers, you name it. Unfortunately, degenerative discs in his back and father time had the final say, and that was for Steen to ultimately call it a career. And what a career it was.
1,018 regular-season games, 622 career points, and one Stanley Cup championship. This was the guy who many thought of as the "throw in" when the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Steen and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to the Blues for right-winger Lee Stempniak in November of 2008. Here's something you might not know. When former Blue Chris Pronger asked to be traded out of Edmonton in the summer of 2006, the Maple Leafs and Oilers almost consummated a deal with Pronger as the main component, but the Leafs balked when the Oilers asked for Steen in return. The Oilers ultimately ended up dealing Pronger to the Anaheim Ducks, where he would also win a Stanley Cup. Do you think the Leafs wish they could hit the rewind button? Thankfully there isn't a DeLorean that can take them back in time to undo those two blunders.
If Steen's stellar career hadn't been derailed by injuries, lockouts, and a worldwide pandemic, I think it's safe to say he would have hit 300 goals easily. As it stands, he will finish with 245. On the Blues all-time list, he will finish in the top ten in games played, goals, assists, and points.
While the T.J. Oshie's, Vladimir Tarasenko's, and Ryan O'Reilly's got the headlines, Steen didn't care for them. When he accepted a role on the 4th line in 2018-'19, Steen was questioned about how he did it for the betterment of the team. Instead, he answered about the defense. That is what you call being a professional, ladies, and gentlemen.
In today's sports world, it has become about me, me, me, and Instagram posts. Not Alexander Steen. Just as quietly as he came into St Louis, he is leaving the same way.
When things finally get back to normal, you can rest assured that the Blues will give Alexander Steen the appreciation night that he so richly deserves so the fans can say thank you one last time. On Tuesday, when asked about his legacy as a Blue, Steen replied, "There's a line in a book about leaving a jersey in a better place than when you get it. That's something I've tried to keep in the back of my head, to keep pushing forward together with everyone I've played with."
You certainly did, Steener. You certainly did. Thank you.