I got hooked by hockey in 1969 and 1970, winter of my eighth grade year in school. It was the year we first started getting NBC on the old black-and-white Motorola TV. WHO in DesMoines had finally boosted their signal to the point where our TV antenna in Rowan, Iowa could pull a signal in.
The NHL was on every Sunday morning during football season and my friend Mark had one of those hockey game boards where you twirl players on metal rods to score goals in a plastic net defended by a metal or plastic goalie. We were 13 and deeply in love with a game we could only watch on TV and never play (No hockey rinks are generally available in rural Iowa).
Mark liked Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito and their Boston Bruins hockey team who battled through the division of six old teams that had been around forever and had all the good players.
I, like the fool I have always been, pledged undying loyalty to the underdog St. Louis Blues. The expansion division consisted of teams that had only played for three years, filled with young guys and old veterans nearing the end of great careers. Hall-of-Famer goalies Jaques Plante and Glenn Hall both played for the Blues. So did the Battling B-Brothers, Bill Plaeger, Barclay Plaeger, and Bob Plaeger. Along with Red Berensen, Frank St. Marseille, and Doug Harvey. I idolized those guys. In the 1970 Stanley Cup final, they lost every game except the last one, which they lost in spectacular fashion in sudden-death overtime.
I was a Blues Fan for life. I was disappointed every single year as they lost somewhere in the playoffs or in the regular season, never making it back to the Stanley Cup Series. Until 2019.
Young boys’ dreams can come true, even if it takes a lifetime to get there.
They won in 6 games by taking the last three in row.
Now they go back to the Stanley Cup finals, best of seven, for the first time since 1970. And, ironically, they face the same opponent they faced then. In 1970 the Blues lost four in a row to Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and the Boston Bruins. In the fourth game I nearly died when, in the sudden-death overtime, Bobby Orr flew through the air like a bird and put the puck into the net to kill any hope of the Blues winning a single series game.’
They have never won the championship of hockey. They have never drunk wine from Lord Stanley’s Cup. Now they have the chance again for the first time since I was 13 and utterly disappointed.
Yesterday the St. Louis Blues hockey team beat the San Jose Sharks 5 to 0 in game 5 of their best-of-seven playoff series. They are one win away from the Stanley Cup finals again for the first time since the 1960’s.
Once again Jaden Schwartz scored a 3-goal hat trick to lead the scoring. The reliable Vladimir Teresenko scored as well, while goalie Binnington scored a shut-out on the Sharks.
As the Stanley Cup playoffs proceeded, my team, the St. Louis Blues, took on the Dallas Stars, my hometown team. Of course, I couldn’t really lose in this playoff best-of-seven, because I love both teams. But the way it turned out was a super-win for the good guys.
The Stars won their first-round playoff based on the magnificent play of Goalie Ben Bishop. His play recalled for me the days when the Great Glenn Hall won the playoff MVP award for the Blues in the Stanley Cup final that the Blues lost to the Montreal Canadiens in 1968.
The Blues, led by leading scorer Vladimir Teresenko, have been the hottest team in the second half of the NHL season. They came from far back in the pack and out of the playoff picture into the playoffs, winning against the favored Winnepeg Jets in the first round.
And the series itself could not have been more amazing. The Blues finally won the deciding seventh game in the second overtime on a goal by Left Wing Patrick Maroon. It could not have been more exciting. Especially after the Blues had playoff hopes dashed in the first round so many times in recent years. Now, if the Blues can only beat the hated San Jose Sharks, they will be in the Stanley Cup final again for the first time since 1970.
I am, of course, not a sports reporter. I am a loony Blues fan who never gives up even though his beloved hockey team has never won the big prize.
Game one of the second round playoff with the Dallas Stars went to the St. Louis Blues. Tarasenko was a hero again. This is already a good year with the Blues fighting back from so far down in the standings, making the playoffs in an incredible hot streak that hasn’t cooled off yet. We won one series already, and surging towards a second. I am happy.
I have watched the Blues play the Dallas Stars numerous times at the American Airlines Center (or whatever corporate name the Dallas arena has at the moment). But with my current state of health and finance, there’s no way to see a game live now. Still, I am happy. The Blues are winning again.
It has always been a hopeful sign for me when my favorite sports teams do well in the playoffs. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 2011 and the blossoming of my novel-writing career began right after in 2012. The Arizona Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl in 2008, and though they lost, they came extremely close to winning, losing only in the final minutes, presaged my successful shift to the ESL teacher position at Naaman Forest High School in Garland, Texas. And now the St. Louis Blues hockey team won a first round playoff series for the first time in a while, against a top-ranked team that was supposed to beat them, and set themselves up for a deep playoff run that might turn into their first ever Stanley Cup championship of the NHL.
Jaden Schwartz, a Blues scoring star, got three goals in one game, called a hat trick in hockey, in the final game against the Winnepeg Jets this last weekend. They are on the road to more victories, and even if they lose going forward, it is still a positive sign for me at a time when I desperately need something positive to happen.
Today’s post should probably be titled with “raspberries” rather than “strawberries” because of the alternative meaning of strawberries being a red abrasion or scrape instead of the double meaning I actually need. But I had strawberries from Walmart to serve for breakfast, not raspberries, so that totally ruined the potential metaphor.
I tend to like to watch the news while I cook breakfast for the kids. Hence the need for raspberries. I mean, the angry orangutan in charge of my news-related happiness or horror is on a real tear about now because he can feel the law and the news media zeroing in on every crime and criminal thought he has been playing with for decades, intending to prosecute both him and those who support him. Like several of the speakers at Senator John McCain’s funeral, I have no need to directly blow raspberries at him. The oblique and carefully worded ones will do fine. But I do have nothing but raspberries for him. The things he is doing to health care, education, the environment, and international relationships have either undone the good the government has previously done or made the made the matter much worse.
Of course, the Pumpkinhead in Chief is not the only evil, bloodsucking monster in the news that makes me blow raspberries at the TV screen during breakfast. I will specifically try to sort out my voter registration problems so that I can register a vote against Grandpa Munster… err… I mean, the Zodiac Killer… err… well, you know, that guy whose name I do not wish to invoke at the moment to protect my children and virgins everywhere. It is a problem because I let my voter registration lapse as a Jehovah’s Witness, and now the State of Texas won’t let me renew it by mail. I have to find the proper registration office to sit in for hours being glared at by Republican officials who see on the paperwork that I was a registered Democrat more than two decades ago.
I also blow raspberries at Republican hard-heartedness that still hasn’t reunited children with their immigrant asylum-seeking parents out of fear of letting too many brown people into their “white” country. Raspberries also for conservatives that talk about Democrats being violent and chaotic people as they post threats of shooting deaths for liberals on social media.
I’m sure you have probably already concluded that having the TV on during breakfast makes for rather rootie-tootie-fruity breakfasts around our house. And you wouldn’t be wrong.
I also have raspberries to give the Chicago Cubs this time of year as they try to beat my Cardinals out of the playoffs once again. They deserve lots of fruit. Particularly pineapples thrown at their prissy blue helmets during late innings of games they are winning.
But, fear not. My dietary health is safe for now. I am getting fresh fruits. I am fortified with vitamin C. It happens that we are eating STRAWBERRIES, not raspberries for breakfast. And strawberries are good for you, even if the morning news is not.