ST. LOUIS - In a salary cap era, it's not often you see a player remain with a single franchise for 500 games, but that's something Alexander Steen will accomplish with the St. Louis Blues tonight against the Calgary Flames (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX).
"I'm very proud to have been here for this long," Steen said after the team's practice today. "And I'm looking forward to many more."
A lot has happened since the November 2008 trade that brought Steen and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to the Blues. Steen was just 24 years old then, a relative rookie in the League. Now, he's one of the most respected players in the dressing room, one of the club's most consistent players in any situation and also one of its top leaders.
"Even when he's not scoring, he's dependable as heck," Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's always doing the little things that are contagious throughout the group. When you have a player like that on your team, it feeds right throughout your lineup. His attention to detail forces other people pay attention also, and it really helps us win hockey games.
"He's not going to be one of those guys that's going to the lead the National Hockey League in points, but he really leads you in winning areas of the game that really matter," Hitchcock added. "Whether its killing a penalty at the right time, or scoring a big power-play goal or clearing the zone when the game is on the line - he does all the little things that help you win games."
Video: Steen to play in 500th game with Blues
Steen's importance to the club has already been noticed by goalie Carter Hutton, who has been a Blue for only a few months.
"He's a true pro, one of those guys you consider an every day guy no matter what it is," Hutton said. "It's a day after a game or it's a day off, he still comes in and does his work. He leads, he's a vocal guy in the room and on the ice and he leads by example. He's a guy that every night, you know what you're going to get from him. He's a dominant player… It's been a treat to be a teammate with him."
Offseason shoulder surgery could have kept Steen out of the lineup for the early part of the season, but he was back in the game before the preseason ended and now finds himself tied with Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko for the team lead in points (7) through the first six regular-season games.
And with a new four-year, $23 million contract extension, he'll remain a Blue for the foreseeable future.
"I don't think I realized or knew much about St. Louis (back when I was traded here)," Steen said. "The biggest thing I've grown to appreciate about the city and about playing here is how passionate the fans are and how well you're treated in the city. It's been a pleasure."