The St. Louis Blues will not have Alex Steen on the ice for them this season, announcing today that the veteran forward has been forced to retire due to a back injury. The release indicates that he has “multiple levels of degenerative herniated discs of his lumbar spine.” Though he is retiring, Steen’s contract won’t actually be coming off the books entirely.
Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic confirms that he will be treated as an injured player for this, the last season of his contract, meaning he will earn his full $3.5MM salary and the Blues will still have to deal with his $5.75MM cap hit. That cap hit can be moved to long-term injured reserve for cap relief, though it is still a more complicated process than the complete relief that actual retirement would bring.
Steen, 36, started his NHL journey back in 2002 when he was selected 24th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs, though he wouldn’t actually make it to North America until 2005. When he did, he was already a polished professional from his years in the Swedish Elite League and stepped into the Maple Leafs lineup immediately. With 18 goals and 45 points in his rookie season, there were high hopes that he could be a superstar in Toronto. After a few more solid, if unspectacular seasons, the Maple Leafs made one of their patented (at the time) moves to secure a more veteran talent, trading Steen and fellow first-round pick Carlo Colaiacovo to the Blues for Lee Stempniak.
His Maple Leaf career in the rearview, Steen started the real meat of his hockey journey with St. Louis, a team that he would play 12 seasons and more than 850 games for. Seven different times he earned votes for the Selke Trophy as one of the league’s best defensive forwards, while also reaching new career highs in goals (33) and points (64). His career finishes with 622 points in 1,018 games, and at long last, he got to lift the Stanley Cup in 2019.
Steen isn’t a hall of fame candidate, but he will go down as half of one of the best father-son duos to play in the NHL. His father, Thomas Steen, played 950 games with the Winnipeg Jets and tallied 817 points of his own while also earning Selke votes for that focus on defense. When Alex Steen scored his 600th point during the 2018-19 season, they became just the fourth father-son duo to each record at least that number, behind Gordie Howe/Mark Howe, Bobby Hull/Brett Hull, and Peter Stastny/Paul Stastny. Quite the great company to be in.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images