Since the 1970 St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup Final where they lost to the Boston Bruins in 4 straight games, I have waited for the chance to return and have one more shot at rooting for my team to win their first hockey championship, their first Stanley Cup. We were in the finals and we had beaten the two best teams in hockey to get there. But hockey playoffs are more grueling than any other sports playoffs. We lost in 6 games. I am a dedicated fan. And I will be one for life. And I will root for them again next year. And they will very likely lose again this time of year next year. But that’s not the point. They will always be my team.
It went to seven games just like the Chicago Blackhawk series. I was fully prepared to see the Blues lose and be out of the playoffs… again. But it didn’t go quite that way this time. Hope has returned to roost in the heart of this Blues fan.
The Blues are going to the Conference Championship series for the first time since 2001. It will be a chance to return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1970. The Blues have never won the Cup. Now that the string of first round playoff exits is ended, I have reason to hope that some of the endless frustrations are coming to an end. The next round will either be against the Nashville Predators or the San Jose Sharks. The Blues have already defeated much tougher foes in the first two rounds, the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks and the division champion Dallas Stars. But I am, of course, aware that either team is capable of upsetting the Blues. I am mentally prepared for a loss. However, there is reason to hope.
St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott stretches just before the start of the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on January 14, 2016. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The reason to hope is goalie Brian Elliot. He stood up to more than 30 shots on goal in last night’s game. Only one got past him. The other side was not nearly so lucky… or so skilled. Combined with the scoring abilities of Vladimir Tarasenko and Paul Stastny they should be unstoppable. I know I am rattling on with my own self-absorbed fascinations and ephemeral joy at last night’s victory. And I know it may not be any more than a moment’s flicker of light and hope and happiness… but that’s what being a sports fan is all about.
Down again… oh, oh, oh, down deep and so blue again…
They did it to me again this year.
Since 1967 when the St. Louis Blues were a first year expansion NHL hockey team, I have loved and lived for the Blues. Their first three years in the league they were in the Stanley Cup finals. I got to watch them play on my family’s old black-and-white Motorola against the Boston Bruins, their third try at winning the cup. (My best friend preferred the Bruins and every other kid in town who could even stand hockey sided with them… Hence old Tiger Bates crooning at me “St. Louie is gonna be Blue tonight!” after every single game.) They didn’t realistically have a chance. They were the representative from the expansion half of the league. They dominated teams like the Minnesota North Stars, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the California Golden Seals because they managed to land aging Hall-of-Famers like goalies Glenn Hall, Jaques Plante, and scorers like Dickie Moore and Doug Harvey in the expansion draft… there’s more to read about their history here;
I also loved the next generation of heroes, like Red Berensen here, the old Red Baron of Hockey, and future Hall of Famers like Bernie Federko, Brett Hull, and did you know that the Great Wayne Gretzky played a season with the Blues before he retired? Almost every year of their existence since that fateful first three years of Stanley Cup play they have been a legitimate contender to go back and actually win the cup. Philadelphia did it in the 70’s, Pittsburgh in the 80’s and 90’s, the Stars did it after moving to Dallas. But the Blues have never made it back to the Stanley Cup Finals. Something always goes wrong.
photos from the St. Louis Blues home page and Arch City Sports
We never seem to be able to get past arch rivals. The Chicago Blackhawks beat us and go on to win the cup. The Los Angeles Kings beat us and go on to win the cup. The last three years in a row we’ve been taken out in the very first round of the playoffs… This year, despite winning the toughest division in hockey, they lose to the Minnesota Wild (the team that filled the hole the North Stars left when they moved to Dallas). I am totally confusticated and fristumbobulated… and I mean in the worst possible way! (Those are bad words in the language of the fairy-folk from Iowa… terrible curse words.) It couldn’t be worse… well… except, of course for being a fan of Chicago Cubs baseball. (Yeah, I guess it could be worse.)
Anyway… after such high hopes… I am once again singing the Blues.
I found Chilly Willy at a yard sale for 50 cents. He was a perfect rare find for our family stuffed animal collection. He has good taste in reading material too. He had a few bugs nesting in the straw somebody used for stuffing when they refilled him. A little work de-bugged the cool bird. Now he can skate like a pro again. (I’m a St. Louis Blues’ hockey fan, but Chilly predicts the Pittsburgh Penguins will win every year. Since Sidney Crosby showed up, he is very nearly right.)