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The St. Louis Scarecrows Aren't Really Scary
(This post was last modified: 05-26-2024, 04:34 PM by ShadowFenix. Edited 1 time in total.)

Every team in both the SHL and the SMJHL have other teams where they know that they don't want to be matched up against them. There's a handful of teams where playing against them will batter your team down, force them to really be at the top of their game, and leave them wondering which of their life choices brought them to this moment as they're crushed against the boards.

The St. Louis Scarecrows are not that team. Finishing 15th out of 16 teams in the Season 76 SMJHL standings, and at the bottom of their division, the Scarecrows are not the scary team their name implies. Fans of the team can take a deep breath, however, because this is all by design.

Let's take a trip back to S72. The Scarecrows finished the season with a respectable 41-22-3 record, placing them at 3rd in the entire division. Notably, at 10th, 12, and 13th (of a 14 team league), were Quebec City, Colorado, and Detroit. In the following season, the cracks started to show. St. Louis lost star forward James Ward-Prowse, and their two top defenders in Robin Nyckel and Elena Maximova. This ultimately led to a 31-32-3 season barely sneaking the Scarecrows into the playoffs, only to lose in a close 7 game series against the Newfoundland Berserkers. The management at the time had to ask themselves if it was worth trying to do a retool to get back in the hunt, or if their window had closed.

Ultimately, the team decided it was best to pull the plug, and over the coming couple seasons, they traded away or lost most of their talent, stockpiling picks in an attempt to restart from the ground up. The cycle in the SMJHL of players is much quicker than in the major leagues. If a team mistimes the precise development of their players, a star's minor league career could be over in the blink of an eye.

In Season 74, the rebuild had started, and St. Louis finished last in the rankings with a 16-48-2 record. The three teams mentioned earlier, QCC, COL, and DET finished top 3 in the division, and over S74-S76, each of the three teams would go on to win the Four Star Cup. So while the Scarecrows finished at the bottom of the rankings, the clear success of three teams who had been at the bottom was sitting right in front of them.

So St. Louis, with perfect examples to follow, went forth with their rebuild where they stockpiled picks, and made selections that they hoped would bring them on the same trajectory as the most recent Four Star Cup winners. Bringing them to the current season, they have 4 players from the S75 draft class, 6 from the S76 class, 4 from S77, and 2 from S77. The bulk of their team is about to enter the prime of their J career, maxing out on their potential in their 3rd and 4th seasons.

While the defensive side of their team is a little younger than the forwards, a few key trades could place St. Louis in a position where they're competing in the playoffs next season. This lopsided growth schedule, where there's an uneven mix of ages of forwards and defenseman could come to backfire, however. If the Scarecrows don't do something to even this out, by the time their defenseman are ready to compete, the forwards might be graduating out of the program. Still though, there will be a short window where St. Louis is able to compete, and in the SMJHL, where windows are inherently short, any window might be all a team can ask for.

Next season will be the proof fans need on if this rebuild was the right idea. If the team improves, hope will rise. If the team stays at the bottom of the rankings, the management likely only has one more year to show that this rebuild was a success. And if it doesn't improve from there, expect a big move from St. Louis to restart the rebuild. One way or another, history is on the side of the Scarecrows. Following in the footsteps of past cup winners, fans can only hope that this is one of those instances where history will rhyme. This time around though, the Scarecrows are hoping to scare away all these bird teams, in hope that they'll be the only ones left on the field.

[741 words, I wrote this for the 2x team spotlight, and only just realized that that was 2 weeks ago lol]

I happen to be a crow and find them very frightening.

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. : [Image: zS2lCMp.png] : .

You should not have come after the Scarecrows. We'll hunt you in your sleep

Why be afraid when you have a lighter

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