St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said Wednesday he isn't sure, nor concerned, if the firing of coach Ken Hitchcock changes what might happen to him approaching the NHL Trade Deadline.
"What happened this morning, there's more important things around here to worry about," Shattenkirk told TSN after Hitchcock was replaced as coach by Mike Yeo.
With St. Louis (24-21-5) fourth in the Central Division and clinging to the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, and Shattenkirk able to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, talk surrounding him is likely to continue up to the March 1 deadline.
"I've kind of been in a position where I've known that something could happen all year, so it really doesn't change my mentality too much," Shattenkirk said. "I'm here to play for this team. It's a mentality that I've embraced all year. I can't really control what happens in that respect. This is a time more than ever where we need to get together as a team and be a close-knit group and I'm not going to do anything to pull away from that."
Shattenkirk, 28, is in the final year of a four-year, $17 million contract (average annual value of $4.25 million). He has 11 goals and 23 assists (34 points) in 50 games and has had at least 44 points in each of the past three seasons with St. Louis.
Video: STL@WPG: Shattenkirk makes nifty move to notch goal
"It's hard to keep track of [the rumors]," he said. "It changes on almost a daily basis it seems like. It's something that every week a new situation presents itself, and that comes from our team, how our record is, other teams how their record is, guys get hurt. My name is kind of always linked in different team's talks. Like I said, I had to deal with it last summer and earlier in the year. It has helped to have to deal with it on a more regular basis because at that point you don't let it affect your game, you're able to separate the two. At this point we just have to wait and see what happens."
Shattenkirk has been the subject of trade rumors since before the 2016 NHL Draft in June.
"I think, more than anything, the unsettling part about it is you don't know where or when it's going to be, that can weigh on your mind," he said. "I think last summer made it a little easier because there was a frenzy there in early July, right around the draft, and I had the end of the summer to take a breath and get to camp and focus on that. Now it's become something that, I wouldn't even say it's flattering, it just becomes more … routine than anything."
St. Louis fired Hitchcock on Wednesday and replaced him with Yeo, who was an associate coach in line to take over next season.
"In my mind, I was thinking earlier on in the season, 'We're used to being at the top heap and maybe that makes me safer,'" Shattenkirk told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday, prior to Hitchcock being fired. "If we're [the last place] Colorado [Avalanche], I probably would have been out of here a month ago. It's hard to say what we're going to do now."