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Blues will put Scandella's savvy and experience to immediate use

Blues will put Scandella's savvy and experience to immediate use

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Marco Scandella

Montreal's Marco Scandella collides with the Flyers' Travis Konecny during the Jan. 16 game in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo)

After the trade went down, the first person Marco Scandella heard from was Uncle Sergio, who talked to him about St. Louis.

“I’m just following in his footsteps a little bit,” Scandella said Wednesday after his first skate as a St. Louis Blue.

Uncle Sergio is Sergio Momesso, who played parts of four seasons with the Blues from 1988-91 and again for 31 games during the 1996-97 season. Momesso, who now works in sports radio in Montreal, had a career-high 24 goals during the 1989-90 season. It helped to be playing on a line with Brett Hull and Adam Oates.

The Blues don’t expect Scandella to score goals for them, at least not many. They want the 29-year-old defenseman to help fill the void created by the loss of Jay Bouwmeester, who’s almost certainly out for the season after a cardiac episode last week in Anaheim.

“Penalty killer. Big guy that can defend well,” coach Craig Berube said of Scandella. “Plays a physical game. That’s basically what he is.”

Which sounds like Berube’s type of player.

“And he’s got a heavy shot,” Berube said. “We got a lot of guys back there that can shoot the puck, which we like. We use our ‘D’ a lot. They shoot a lot of pucks, so he’s gonna be useful that way.”

Berube plans to put Scandella to use right away. When asked Wednesday how soon Scandella would get in a game, Berube said: “Tomorrow probably. He’s ready to go. We got him for a reason. So we’ll get him right in there and play him.”

The Blues play the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday at Enterprise Center.

Berube likes what he’s seen from Carl Gunnarsson lately, particularly in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils. So Scandella’s debut probably will come at the expense of Robert Bortuzzo.

Berube wasn’t sure who Scandella will be paired with, but didn’t rule out sliding him into Bouwmeester’s slot opposite Colton Parayko.

“That can be an option for sure,” Berube said. “Getting him in that area and that spot, and getting that shutdown role.”

Scandella was with the Canadiens in Detroit, getting ready to play the Red Wings, when he got the call from Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin that he was being traded to St. Louis for a second-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder.

On one level this was tough because Scandella is from Montreal, and doesn’t every young hockey player in Montreal dream of someday playing for the Canadiens?

Scandella did.

“I feel like I lived the dream,” he said. “Even though it was a small stint. It was just two months. . . . Got the opportunity to play there, play in front of my family and my friends. Scored at the Bell Centre against the Leafs. So some big moments there.”

But as Scandella mentioned, it was a short dream. He was with his hometown Canadiens for only 20 games, 13 of which were played before family and friends in Montreal.

Scandella spent the previous 2½ seasons with Buffalo — he was a teammate of Ryan O’Reilly in the 2017-18 campaign — before being traded to Montreal on Jan. 3. The Sabres had an excess of defensemen, and although he was playing well for Buffalo, Scandella was shipped out.

With his contract up after this season, the Canadiens out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and the trade deadline fast approaching, Scandella prepared for the possibility of another trade before embarking on a three-game, six-day road trip with the team.

“I’m not gonna lie, I packed pretty heavy for the trip,” Scandella said. “I knew (a trade) was a possibility if Montreal was gonna fall out of the race.”

So he took more clothes than normal?

“A little bit,” he said. “Couple more sweaters. You never know this time of year, so you gotta be prepared.”

That’s what you call veteran savvy. Which is one of the reasons why the Blues brought him in. He has 569 games of NHL regular-season experience. He also knows what the postseason feels like, having played 39 playoff contests as a member of the Minnesota Wild, most recently in the 2016-17 season against the Blues.

But after the missing the playoffs the past two seasons in Buffalo and on the verge of missing them again this season in Montreal, getting traded to a Stanley Cup contender was a big plus — more than making up for the fact that he was leaving his hometown.

“I was absolutely excited to come to St. Louis, defending Cup champs,” Scandella said. “What a city, what a great organization to be a part of. So really happy about this.

“Playing in the playoffs is everything in hockey. So just to be a part of this team, this franchise, I feel like I’m really lucky.”

Well, he’s not back in the playoffs just yet. But even with their recent slump the Blues are positioned well for another playoff appearance. First in the Western Conference and first in the Central Division with 22 games left to play.

Besides O’Reilly, Scandella knows Jake Allen, Alex Pietrangelo and Brayden Schenn from playing in the World Juniors with Team Canada. From his roots in Montreal, he knows David Perron, who is from Quebec Province.

“It just makes the transition easier,” Scandella said. “I feel like there’s a lot of potential in this locker room. Obviously, you saw what happened last year. So I want to be a part of that this year.”

A couple other things that should make the transition easier. He played seven seasons with the Wild, so he knows what the Central Division is all about.

And he knows Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn, who was an assistant coach with the Houston Aeros of the AHL, when Scandella was playing there for parts of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons as a Wild prospect.

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