Chuck Berry would be proud. The St. Louis Blues are finally Stanley Cup champions. In fact the St. Louis Blues went from worst in the NHL (as of January 4th) to first as they claimed the Stanley Cup. This is a team that was almost dismantled mid season. Their rise to Stanley Cup champions is like nothing ever witnessed by the NHL ever before. A fifth string goalie comes in and plays incredible to get the Blues back in playoff contention and within two months the Blues are challenging for the Division and Conference leads. Did I mention that they were last place in the entire league in early January?
This is a feel good story. The Blues illustrate a team of hope, and hard work. While their playoff run theme song might have been “Gloria” by Laura Branigan, it might as well have been “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey but in the end perhaps it should have been “You Can’t Catch Me” by the late Chuck Berry (a long-time St. Louis resident).
The Blues have had some great players over the years. Bernie Federko played with the team from 1976 until 1989. Brian Sutter another great Blues player. Then of course there was Hull and Oates with Brett Hull and Adam Oates having a number of great seasons in St. Louis. There was also Al MacInnis, Brendan Shanahan and Keith Tkachuk. Other great Blues players included Chris Pronger, Curtis Joseph, and Pavol Demitra just to name a few. There were also a few great ex-Oilers to play for the Blues including non other than Grant Fuhr and Wayne Gretzky. The Blues seemed to always have decent teams – in fact the Blues enjoyed a playoff presence every year from 1980 to 2004 – the third longest streak in North American professional sports history.
History of the St. Louis Blues
By now, we’ve all learned about the history of the Blues. They were one of the six expansion teams that came into the NHL in 1967. Their first few years of existence saw them go to the Stanley Cup Finals only to get swept each time. Some of you may even remember when in 1983 “Wild Bill” Hunter attempting to purchase the team and move them to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I remember this as a kid and was one of the many who hoped this would come to fruition, but alas the Blues were destined to stay in Missouri. The Blues have qualified for the playoffs in all but nine of their 52 seasons, appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals four times, but 2019 was the first time the Blues have been champions.
Five Feel-good Stories of the St. Louis Blues
There is lots to love about the Blues. While the officiating throughout the playoffs can (and will be) debated the St. Louis Blues, like most teams, had calls work against them and calls work for them. They seemed like a team of destiny this spring. Nothing was going to stop them. If you believe in karma perhaps that worked in their favor as well. As a hockey fan I love the personal stories that materialize along the way. 2019-19 has been an amazing journey for the St. Louis Blues organization and for their fans. Here’s a look at some of the feel-good stories that have helped build the mystique of the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
- 11 year old Superfan, Laila Anderson – this was simply an amazing story. The Blues flew young Anderson and her mother to see seventh game in Boston. Laila has a life-threatening autoimmune disease and has been recovering throughout the past few weeks and months. During the team’s visits to the hospital, Laila got to know many of the players on her favorite team. You can learn more of her story here. She was there and was on the ice when the Blues were presented with the Stanley Cup. In fact in one of my most favorite moments of the entire playoffs, Blues defensman and superfan of Laila, Colten Paryko brought the Stanley Cup over to Laila. Laila was interviewed by Hockey Night in Canada and gave a most confident and amazing interview in which she commented: “I never gave up on these boys. They have done so much for me that they don’t know. I couldn’t thank them enough for helping me get through my fight.” Colten Paryko, like TJ Oshie last year has become one of my favorite people on the planet.
- The Canadian Content – the Blues have a ton of Canadian players on their roster and with all due respect to the other nations, hockey is Canada’s game. The world needs a Canadian based team to win the Stanley Cup. With the Blues winning this is a pretty good start.
- Saskatchewan Boys bringing it home – speaking of Canadian content, the Blues have a number of players from the province of Saskatchewan on their team. Saskatchewan folks are a hardworking, down-to-earth type of people and we couldn’t be happier for Brayden Schenn from Saskatoon, Tyler Bozak from Regina and Jaden Schwartz from Wilcox. Well done boys. From Humboldt to Arran, Saskatchewan, the entire province and country is proud of you. “For the Riders” indeed.
- Jordan Binnington – at one point this guy was the Blues’ fifth string goalie and as the story goes in November, December just before he was actually called up to the NHL, he told St. Louis brass that “I’m ready”. Ready indeed, this guy was lights out in the regular season and throughout the playoffs. Rumors suggest that he was almost going to quit playing after this season if he didn’t make it to the Show. Well he did and now he set a record for rookie goaltenders (and all tenders) having compile all 16 wins it takes for a team to win a Stanley Cup in the playoffs. Well done. Awesome story and great for sending a message to never quit and never give up on your dreams.
- The Big Rig Patrick Maroon – in February 2018, my beloved Edmonton Oilers again made a trade that I never understood. The Oilers traded Patrick Maroon to the New Jersey Devils for a third round pick and a prospect by the name of JD Dudek. The “Big Rig” as he was referred to in Edmonton was a fan favorite, scored 27 goals playing with Connor McDavid and was able to play a heavy, physical and intimidating style of play for the Oilers all with a modest contract. He loved playing in Edmonton, so why would you trade him? Oh wait Pete Chiarelli was the GM then. I digress. Patrick Maroon signed a one year deal for less money to play in his hometown of St. Louis in part so that he could be closer to his son. If you seen Maroon’s interviews over the years he loves his son more than anything. Fast forward to the playoffs this season. Patrick Maroon was a key cog in the Blues playoff run. We were so happy to see him hoist the Stanley Cup where he nervously approached hoisting the trophy uttering a “F*ck Yeah!”. Pure emotion.
The Hockey Fanatic congratulates the St. Louis Blues on an amazing playoff run and as 2019 Stanley Cup Champions. This is great for the NHL and great for hockey.