A recent article from the official site of the St. Louis Blues might have revealed what was the driving force behind Chris Stewart's disappointing 2011-12. After coming over to St. Louis and having a successful 2010-11, Stewart looked slow and unmotivated out on the ice in 2011-12. Between last year and the present year, Stewart reportedly worked out and improved his stamina. As we've seen, his hard work is paying dividends.
So, was Stewart's dismal performance due to a lack of effort? Not quite. It turns out Stewart has an allergy to brown rice - a staple in his meals - which was affecting his metabolism and causing him to be sluggish on the ice.
Well, this is certainly an interesting story. Stewart, a player with Jamaican ties, grew up with brown rice being a prominent feature in his diet. Evidently, at some point during or shortly before the 2011-12 campaign, Stewart developed an allergy to the food he's consumed for ages.
Stewart reportedly worked with Matt Nichol, a strength and conditioning coach with Paragenix Systems, in finding out why he felt so tired during the third period and why he was gaining weight despite training and a fairly regulated diet. Nichol's findings after various tests showed an allergy to brown rice was causing Stewart to feel bogged down and tired earlier than he should.
Now, Stewart is off of brown rice (whether he likes it or not) and it's showing. In 38 games in 2013 he already has more goals (16) than he scored in 79 games last season. He also has matched his point total from last year (30) in an shortened 2013 season.
A newly developed allergy would explain why Stewart looked like a completely different player last year compared to when he first came over. It also might make the decision to give Stewart a new contract a bit easier as we may be able to throw the belief that he had poor motivation or a poor work ethic out the window.