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Blues' Steen still excited to play former team

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Five years have passed since Alexander Steen was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the maturation process from the time he a Leafs player to a present-day member of the Blues is a constant reminder of how much the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native has grown as a player.

Steen and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo were acquired for forward Lee Stempniak, who has since moved on to play for the Phoenix Coyotes and currently the Calgary Flames. The Blues look back fondly on the day of Nov. 24, 2008.

For Steen, who's among the NHL leaders in goals (21) and points (33), he'll be facing a Leafs team that only carries one player from his days in Toronto (Nikolai Kulemin).

It's still a special game for Steen.

"I don't know that it's so much that they traded me. I think it's more the team that originally drafted me," said Steen, who has 94 goals and 210 points in 313 games with the Blues. "It's a special city to play in, but there's a lot of differences on that team now, everything from management to players.

"It's special seeing the trainers and team services, guys that I hung out with a lot when I was there. It's fun to see those faces and Randy [Carlyle] behind the bench, since I grew up with his son [Craig]. That's special too."

Steen recalls the trade and said at the time it was a tough transition, but one he expected.

"The way I left, it was almost a waiting game for something to happen," Steen said. "It felt like everybody was on the move. Once it happened, I think it was more of a feeling this team I'm going to really believes I'm capable of helping them. Since I got here, they've been great. They've given me opportunity after opportunity and I've kind of grown with the team here.

"We've had some success over the past couple years, but true success is measured in the playoffs and that's where we haven't been able to achieve our goals. We've been hungry this year."

Colaiacovo, a Toronto native, is in his second stint with the Blues, who signed the veteran defenseman to a one-year contract for added depth this season.

For the Leafs, center Jay McClement will be facing the team that drafted him in 2001. McClement was part of a trade that sent him and Erik Johnson to the Colorado Avalanche for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Maple Leafs did not take part in a morning skate Thursday. They arrived in St. Louis after losing 3-1 to the Los Angeles Kings at home Wednesday. It was the Leafs' second straight loss and seventh in nine games (2-5-2).

Here are the Maple Leafs' and Blues' projected lineups:


James van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel

Mason Raymond - Trevor Smith - David Clarkson

Joffrey Lupul - Peter Holland - Nikolai Kulemin

Frazer McLaren - Jay McClement - Jerry D'Amigo

Carl Gunnarsson - Cody Franson

Jake Gardiner - Morgan Rielly

Mark Fraser - Paul Ranger

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: John-Michael Liles, Carter Ashton

Suspended: Dion Phaneuf

Injured: Tyler Bozak (oblique), Dave Bolland (ankle), Colton Orr (elbow)


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Vladimir Sobotka - Chris Stewart

Derek Roy - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko

Brenden Morrow - Maxim Lapierre - Adam Cracknell

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo, Magnus Paajarvi

Injured: Jordan Leopold (hand), Ryan Reaves (hand)

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