Thomas Greiss and his family have a spot in Olivette, a quick move to Centene Community Ice Center.
He’s already gone to Gateway Arch and St. Louis Aquarium. He is indeed a big fan of St. Louis Barbecue.
“I’ve been to Sugarfire a few times,” Grace told Post-Dispatch last week. “That’s really good. I love barbecue.”
As for Gateway Arch, he probably knows more about western expansion in the United States than any native of Fussen, Germany.
“Coming from Germany, I didn’t have many ideas about buying Louisiana,” he said. “The museum downstairs (in the arch) is really interesting. Good learning experience. And then we had a great view from above the whole city and the Cardinals field and stuff. So it was fun.”
Of course, the key to Grace’s time in St. Louis will be how much fun he has playing the goalkeeper for the Blues. Phil Hosseau’s loss via trade to Detroit left a huge gap in goal behind star Jordan Bennington. It was Hoso, after all, who carried the blues through Bennington’s long slack last season.
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The response to Greiss’ signing of the free agent was predictably frustrating among Blues fans. After all, at 36, it’s controversial how much he has left. And he came off the worst season of his 13-year NHL career: scoring 10-15-1 with 3.66 goals-to-average and 891 save percentages last season with the Red Wings.
“Last year has obviously not been my best year,” said Grace (rhymes with “rice”). “I didn’t play better. Just things didn’t go well. I wasn’t very happy about it. But this is a good year to bounce back from it and have a better season. My body still feels great. I’m ready to go. No major injuries. Still seeing the disc is good. “.
The Blues and general manager Doug Armstrong are hopeful that Grace’s numbers last season will be extreme.
“It’s a bit like putting on (Nick) Lady,” Armstrong told Post-Dispatch after signing Grace. “Going back to when he was on successful teams – how was he playing?”
The Red Wings very much look like a team on the rise. But they missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year last season and had a 30th-ranked NHL defense, allowing for 3.78 goals per game. Just as Lady posted much better numbers with the Blues last season after his trade deadline deal brought him from Detroit, Armstrong is hoping for a similar result with Grace.
“He’s much older,” said Armstrong. “He won’t see anything here he hasn’t seen before. We have to play well in front of him to give him a fighting chance to be the man he thinks he can be and we need him to be.”
Prior to last season, Greiss was impressively consistent throughout his career – posting a GAA of 2.74 or less and a savings ratio of 0.908 or higher in 10 of 11 previous seasons, most as a “1B” goalkeeper in terms of playing time.
Most recently in 2018-19 with the New York Islanders, Greiss teamed up with Robin Lehner to win the Jennings Cup for the fewest goals allowed by the team.
He is best known for his five seasons with The Islanders (2015-20), in which he was among the top five in the franchise in wins, goals against and savings percentage when he left via free agency for Detroit. But it’s been around, with spells in San Jose, Phoenix (now Arizona), and Pittsburgh as well.
Blues quarterback Robert Portorzo and former Blues David Perron and Oscar Sundqvist were part of the Pittsburgh organization during the Grace of the Penguins’ season (2014-15). Grace Lady has been known since his time with Islanders and last season with Detroit.
“He’s a great skater,” Grace said of Lady. “Feels the game and reads the game well. Just a smart player.”
Grace spent part of this season in Detroit, his native Germany and Florida where his wife has relationships. But he’s been in St. Louis acclimatizing since early August.
“I’ve talked to a few teams, but St. Louis were the best group ever,” said Grace.
His one-year deal is worth $1.25 million, but he gets an extra $250,000 if he starts at least 20 games.
For many veterans whose careers are fading away, winning takes on even greater importance. This is certainly the case with Grace.
He said, “Oh, sure.” “I think especially, if you haven’t won the Stanley Cup yet. It might be different if you’ve already won it.”
As for Detroit, “It’s a really good organization,” Grace said. “I was treated really well. They were very professional, but the loss is not fun at all for the whole organization and it is definitely difficult to go through. But I think they are in (a) good place and they can make a big step this year.”
As for St. Louis, Bennington’s numbers will get the bulk of the starts if all goes as planned this season. But the Blues will need about twenty starts from Greiss while Joel Hofer gets more seasoning in the NHL, with Springfield.
During the blues’ unofficial voluntary practice at Centene, Greiss is still wearing his Red Wings helmet and pads.
“I am looking forward to it (the new gear),” he said.
Just as the Blues and their fans are eagerly waiting to see how Grace is doing this season.