The time had come for me to finally take in my first Blues game at the Scott Trade Center. Why it took so long I don't know, probably the fact that when I'm in STL I'm out chasing critters or visiting friends and relatives. My time seems so short when on vacation or a business trip. I rang up my old high school buddy and hockey goalie John M. and we picked the game that fit our schedules, Thursday Oct 8th against the Thrashers. Chopper was getting a statue out front so that was something to look forward to. The fateful Escalator Crash game as it would turn out. I would have preferred the Blackhawks or Detroit but beggars can't be choosy. John's son Joe would be along for the night also.
Having spent many a game in the ole barn I was a bit curious about the new joint. Would it live up the the tradition of the old Arena? Would the fans be the same rowdy group I remembered? Would the pisser lines be horrendous? Would a Blackhawk fan show up in one of their jerseys with me without my trusty rubber hose. I braced myself for the outrageous beer prices.
We started off at O'Connell's Pub at 4652 Shaw Ave. John had grown up down the street and his dad had taken him to the pub before Blues games many years ago. 40 years later the tradition continued with some Flat Tire beers and tasty burgers.
We parked in some hotel valet building I didn't recognize and walked over, looking for the SLGT paperboys the whole way. My first impression upon seeing the Scott Trade was man, that's a lot of glass. I scanned the building for something to remind me of the ole barn like the neon goal sign but no luck. We grabbed a beer and headed for our seats as the game was about to start. Dayum traffic and rain, we had missed the Chopper statue dedication and warmups. We did get a fine Blues calendar upon entry. As Borat would say, very nice.
The first thing to jump out at me as I scanned the insides from my seat were the banners in the rafters. Barc, Glenn Hall, Bernie. It was good to see old friends remembered. Then I saw "it". My jaw dropped. Bob Plager's banner way off to my right away from the retired banners. WTF is that? Honored? I looked for someway to climb up and cut that shit down with my pocketknife but no luck. When teams came into STL they didn't talk about Bob or Barc, it was the Plager BROTHERS. There were a duo. If you retire one they come as a package, not individually wrapped. I turned in my seat so I wouldn't have to see that abomination but it would be a uncomfortable distraction the whole game. I wondered if I could get a flamethrower in under an overcoat the next trip. We'd fix that shit real fast.
Between periods we wandered down to where I was told the SLGT gang hung out but no joy in finding them. People looked at me like I was an escaped mental patient as I asked about SLGT. Finally one fan piped up and said I was in the right spot but he didn't see any folks from here. So we walked around a bit to people watch and see the new digs. No huge rats like the old Arena I noticed, no hanging cigar smoke cloud, no fresh blue and white paint over the old brick and concrete walls.
On the way back to our seats between the 2nd and 3rd period we were late and had to wait for a stoppage. We waited and waited and when the delay got to 5 minutes I looked around for a TV monitor to watch the game. I could have sworn they had montiors in the ole barn to catch the action while you waited for the girlfriend using the bathroom or in the beer line. The Blues management should really look into fixing this as we ended up waiting almost 10 minutes of the 3rd period for a stoppage. The longest wait I can ever remember to get back to a seat.
Fast forward the Blues lost the game 4-2. We played not so good but it was great to finally see the young Blues in their own house. On the way out as we bunched up for the escalator there was a strange sounding boom followed by screams and moans. The infamous escalator accident. My pausing to decide where to buy a shirt may have fortunately kept us off the ride down.
Before going out the front lobby I did find a display honoring members in the St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame. After a quick glance I found some friends I grew up with. Marty Vescovo and. Mr. Olsen were some names that brought back some great memories. Finally a connection to the past, even though it really wasn't Blues related, it was still STL hockey.
Out front we stopped to pose for pics with Chopper's new statue. In the middle of the photo shoot a pretty young lass and her friend showed up. The girl appeared to be
a fun gal drunk on her azz and it wasn't long until she was professing her undying love of Chopper,. When her bump and grind stripper act drew the gendarmes over it was time to exit stage left, no need to add another lewd conduct charge to my sheet.
The new place is functional, nice and shiny, it just didn't have the same feel in my opinion. Maybe a few more games and growing some new memories will help. If this is where we finally win the cup it'll do I guess. I sure wish we could have won the cup while in the old barn. Anyhoo, LET'S ROLL!!!