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BenFred's 5: Time for Blues to trust Kyrou. Illini impossible to figure. And what's up with the All-Star sweaters?

BenFred's 5: Time for Blues to trust Kyrou. Illini impossible to figure. And what's up with the All-Star sweaters?

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Blues take on the Edmonton Oilers

St. Louis Blues center Jordan Kyrou looks to shoot on Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen during the third period of the St. Louis Blues 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers at the Enterprise Center on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. Photo by Troy Stolt,

Five topics from columnist Ben Frederickson that St. Louis sports fans should be discussing:

1. Blues better with Kyrou on the ice

Questioning Blues coach Craig Berube’s decisions have quickly become a good way to look silly.

The Lineup God, full credit to Bob Ramsey on that nickname for Chief, has proven that he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Berube knows what he wants. He knows how to get it. His moves tend to work, even if they don’t always make sense at first. Sometimes they are geared to get more from the player who’s out as much as they are to get another player in.

So, here’s hoping pulling the up-and-coming Jordan Kyrou from the ice during the Blues’ stinker of a road trip was a motivating tactic that doesn’t require a reminder.

The 21-year-old returned to the ice Tuesday in the first game of the Blues’ five-game homestand. The Blues beat the Sharks. Kyrou isn’t the sole reason the Blues won, of course. But the Blues are 9-2 when he plays, and they are 8-1 since his last trip back from San Antonio.

A goal that wasn’t during that win went down as another reminder that Kyrou can help this team right now. His third-period goal, a beauty of a shot on a breakaway pass from Brayden Schenn, was wiped away after a Sharks review. Kyrou was offsides. Barely.

It should surprise no one that Berube was as pleased with the other aspects of Kyrou’s 14-plus minutes as everyone else was excited about what they thought was Kyrou’s third goal of the season.

“Kyrou had a good game tonight, I thought,” Berube said after the win. “It was too bad the goal was offsides. He had some real good chances tonight. I thought he had a good, strong game."

Berube has challenged Kyrou to tighten his defensive screws and be more responsible with the puck to limit turnovers. The time off the ice was related to those topics. Kyrou’s return reminded everyone this team is better when he’s out there.

He’s too promising to watch from the press box.

2. Illinois riding a roller-coaster

The best example of a college basketball season defined by chaos on the court might be Illinois.

Brad Underwood’s team beat Wisconsin on the road Wednesday night, a notable achievement considering the Badgers had won the last 15 games between the two. The Illini (11-5) now have back-to-back Big Ten wins, with two home games coming up.

This is the same Illinois team that got smoked by Arizona and Michigan State, but nearly upset then third-ranked Maryland and did upset then fifth-ranked Michigan.

This is the same Illinois team that lost to Mizzou at Braggin’ Rights.

Keyword for the Illini: Consistency.

It’s nearly impossible to find across the college landscape this season.

3. A buzz for the BattleHawks

I heard a while ago that the St. Louis Battlehawks were selling season tickets as well if not better than any team in the soon-to-launch XFL, but the league at that time was not willing to confirm with hard numbers. Now there appears to be some.

Sports business reporter Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reported this week that the BattleHawks have sold more than 6,000 season tickets to lead the eight-team league. I can add this: The team has a growing confidence it is going to sell out the lower bowl of The Dome for its first home game on Feb. 23.

As of now there is no plan to sell seating in the second level, which will be curtained off to create a better in-game atmosphere. Whether it’s a desire to remind the world of St. Louis’ passion for football, or just a curiosity about the XFL, people here are interested. Sustainability will be the big question, but attention from the start seems higher than some expected.

4. No to soccer. Yes to valet.

Mike Parson, the Missouri governor who stranded St. Louis and the MLS4TheLou ownership group at the finish line of a marathon pursuit of state tax credits that would have gone toward working on the public infrastructure surrounding a primarily privately funded project, scored political points with the no-money-for-sports-no-matter-what crowd. How does that crowd feel about Parson’s political accomplishment — securing a taxpayer-paid valet service for lawmakers at the Capitol? You can’t make this stuff up.

5. NHL All-Star sweaters similar in a bad way

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad uniforms Major League Baseball made its players wear during last season’s Players’ Weekend were the worst look by a pro sports league in calendar year 2019. You remember the ones. The home whites – as in, all white – made manager Mike Shildt and his Cardinals look like a painting crew.

I bring it up today because we have an early candidate in the 2020 competition. Welcome to the ballot, National Hockey League. The All-Star sweaters that will be debuted in St. Louis are nearly as bad as baseball's flop. 

More generic black and white. Lame and tame. Boring.

Hockey scores a point for the silver striping that is supposed to represent The Arch and a musical staff, a nod to the city’s history. But those minimal touches had to be explained before they were noticed.

The sweaters are getting ripped on the internet. People are also hustling to drop $140 on them. What do I know?

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