Predators send Blum back to Milwaukee to regain 'urgency'

Monday, December 12, 2011 at 5:37pm

Jonathon Blum went from being sat down to being sent down.

The Nashville Predators reassigned the 22-year-old defenseman to the Milwaukee Admirals on Monday. He was a healthy scratch for each of the previous two contests after having played in the first 27.

The move leaves just six defensemen on Nashville’s active roster for Tuesday’s game against the Calgary Flames (7 p.m., Bridgestone Arena, Fox Sports-Tennessee).

“We just need to get him playing with more urgency,” assistant general manager Paul Fenton said. “We talked to Jonathon this morning, and he knows where he’s at. He’s very good at evaluating his own play and in his words he’s playing ‘cautious’ right now.”

Blum’s departure likely also was fueled by the recent play of Roman Josi, his former defense partner with the Admirals. Josi made his NHL debut Nov. 26 at Detroit and scored his first career goal in last Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

“[Josi] has been good,” coach Barry Trotz said following that contest. “He’s a little bit unassuming. He’s a good first-year player. He’s not too cocky or arrogant. He’s very polite and does the right things as a young pro.

“I was very happy for him to get his first goal.”

Blum had two goals (one game-winner) and three assists after having started the season on an NHL roster for the first time. His minus-11 rating was second worst on the team to Kevin Klein (minus-13).

He was recalled for the first time last February and played in the final 23 games of the regular season and all 12 in the playoffs. He was a plus-8 in the regular season, which put him among the NHL’s top 10 rookies in that category.

“We need him to play with the urgency he showed over the stretch late in the season after he was recalled,” Fenton said. “He showed us everything we needed to see then and everything we knew he was capable of doing. He just needs to get back to that.

“Sometimes players struggle mentally and sometimes physically. Right now the mental part of his game is not where it needs to be.”

Trotz had been critical of Blum’s play almost from the start of this season. The 2007 first-round draft pick began the season with Klein as part of the Predators’ second pairing. He played more than 20 minutes in each of the first seven contests.

More recently he was on the third unit, often with Jack Hillen, and logged 20 minutes or more only three times in his last 20 appearances.

“I just wanted the chance to play and prove myself. I got that last year,” Blum said early this season. “I did well with my opportunity and I have to keep that up this year.

“… I knew I had high expectations coming in to play a big part on this team.”