Hello St. Louis Game Time readers,
I have been following along on this site for about a month now, but have yet to really post anything significant, because I have refused the urge to post anything until now, when I think I have something significant to contribute. I looked through the archives and did not see anything about this topic.
The topic I’m here to discuss today is this: If you could put together a team (20 players – 12 forwards, 8 defensemen, and 2 goalies) from St. Louis Blues past as a team, who would be on it. Now, I’m going to make a limitation or two. Looking over at www.hockey-reference.com, I found out that 108 players have played two full seasons (164+ games) in a Blues uniform. Only 69 players have played three full seasons (246+ games). Even though I would have to knock out some of my all-time favorites, I think at least three seasons (or 246 games played as a St. Louis Blue is needed in order to make this team. Starting goaltenders usually play less games, so I’m using 3 years at 60 games played = 180 minimum games for a goalie.)
1st Line – Brendan Shanahan / Bernie Ferderko / Brett Hull
2nd Line – Jorgen Pettersson / Pierre Turgeon / Joe Mullen
3rd Line – Brian Sutter / Garry Unger / Jamal Mayers
4th Line – Wayne Babych / Doug Gilmour / Pavol Demitra
The first line averaged, respectively, 1.1/1.16/1.26 points per game as a Blue.
The second line averaged, respectively, .91/1.09/1.11 points per game as a Blue.
The third line averaged, 2.29/1.12/1.27 PIM per game as a Blue, and still could put the puck in the net regularly. I could not put Sutter or Unger on line 4, so this line goes here. Another note: Mayers made it over Keith Tkachuk (and others) because he is one of only 7 Blues to play a decade of hockey in STL.
The fourth line averaged, respectively, .87/.92/1.00 points per game as a Blue.
DEFENSEMEN: (or defencemen, as those tricky Canadians would say. J)
1st Pairing – Al MacInnis / Chris Pronger
2nd Pairing – Barclay Plager / Bob Plager
3rd Pairing – Jeff Brown / Barrett Jackman
I think the first two are two of the best defensemen ever, so there was no doubt in my mind that they deserved the top pairing. The second grouping went together because they were both in the Blue Note for 10 or more seasons and played fantastically when they were. Plus, you can’t split up the brothers if you can avoid doing so. The third pairing was very difficult for me to decide. Jeff Brown actually leads all Blues defensemen ever with .89 points per game. Part of that, I’m sure, was being on a power play with Brett Hull to pass to. He held his own, though, scoring 80 goals in 4+ seasons as a Blue. Barrett Jackman is probably my favorite post-lockout player on the Blues roster, so that was my deciding factor there.
Curtis Joseph & Grant Fuhr
My reasoning is this: CUJO was my favorite player growing up in the Brett Hull era. He made more ridiculous glove saves than any goalie I can remember. Patrick Roy had the butterfly, Dominik Hasek had the stacked pads, Joseph used the glove as well as Ozzie Smith. He carried the team in a time where top line defensive defensemen did not really exist here in St. Louis. My apologies go out to Murray Baron, Rick Zombo, and Garth Butcher…but they are fantastic 2nd and 3rd line defensemen. Grant Fuhr had the luxury of Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger clearing the way for him.
(Note: even with the 180 games played caveat for goalies, only 4 played as a Blue long enough to be on this team – the two I chose, plus Mike Liut and Greg Millen.)