My all-time favorite hockey team beat the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, in the seventh and final game of their first round playoff series. They will now take on the hometown Dallas Stars in round two. I can’t afford to see them play here in town, or even on TV, which we don’t have at the moment. But I can root on the Blues to defeat the hometown Stars, and maybe… just maybe… it is finally our year!
I have been a Blues hockey fan since the team was founded in the 60’s. Their first three years saw them in the Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens in ’68 and ’69 and the Boston Bruins in ’70. They represented the six expansion teams from the six-team expansion division, and they didn’t stand a chance. They lost all four games in all three series. But I was hooked. I was a hockey fan and Blues fan for life after that. And they haven’t been back to the Stanley Cup Finals since. They have had great teams capable of it. They have had stars like Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Curtis Joseph, and Brenden Shanahan. Hall of Famers like Glen Hall and Jaques Plante gave them their previous chances at the championship. This year, it will be up to team captain David Backes, goalie Brian Elliot, and Vladimir Tarasenko to lead the team to the wins they have never managed before.
It is premature for me to celebrate already. The Blues play the Dallas Stars in the next round, a resurgent team led by Jamie Benn, an emerging superstar. But the Blues have lost in the first round of the playoffs for three years in row, even when they were the favorite to win the Cup. And it was the Blackhawks who did it to them last year. This year is big even if they don’t win another game. But I think it is significant that they have taken out the biggest roadblock to victory already. There is hope.