I've been a Hawks fan for my entire life. The good years, the bad years, etc...
For the 28 years I've been on this planet, I've admired hockey. I love everything about it.
I love the speed, the finesse, the brutality, watching 20,000 fans jump to their feet in unison.
My loyalty has always been to the Indian. But I now have a little bit of Blue Blood running through my veins.
Let me explain.
If I get a chance to catch an NHL or AHL game in any city, I'm going. I always find it fun to sit in another team's arena and just take in their presentation of the game. The music, the traditions, the crowd chants. Watching how someone else does it can make your home team's traditions even more important.
I was in St. Louis in December for some medical tests, and the Blues were playing the Flames. It was also Brett Hull hall of fame night. I found some 300 Level tickets on ticketmaster's ticket exchange the night before and I was in for under $25.
The day of the game, I was at my doctors for only an hour or two, then I went out shopping and to just hang around the city. Hit the Budweiser Brewery tour, went by the Galleria in Brentwood. All day I was wearing my Blues jersey and my Blackhawks hat.
I had no less than 3 people ask me how I could be wearing Blues and Hawks gear together. These were people I just ran into during my day, hours before the game and not even near the Scottrade center.
A female employee at Gamestop asked me about it, and then said she was bummed that she couldn't go to the hall of fame night for Hull because she was working late. Someone in another store, also asked how the blue and white was getting along with the red and black.
The short answer, and the one I responded to those inquiries was: "Anyone but Detroit, right?" and everyone agreed with me. The long answer is a little more involved, and after the game I decided to write about it here.
The game itself was great, I got parking outside the Scottrade center for $5, try getting that around the United Center without losing a few windows. We got in early, and got to our seats. The Scottrade center is actually about the same age as the UC, however, it feels a little older to me.
In the 300 level the highest seats are against the wall, there is no walkway around the top rim like the United Center. The atmosphere is fun, and sitting in the 300 level, I was definitely surrounded with hardcore fans, which is always fun. I saw a ton of Oshie jerseys, which was cool. At the USA Olympic orientation camp back in the summer in Woodridge, IL, Oshie was the only player that really caught my attention. At one point, he blasted a slap shot from just inside the right corner of the zone, that beat Tim Thomas like he never saw the puck, and this was during free skate warmups. I was really disappointed that he didn't make the squad going to Vancouver.
The hall of fame presentation was very awesome. Lots of former Blues were there to celebrate Hull's carreer, including Cujo and Gretzky. It was nice, and the crowd really got a kick seeing all the former blues that came to the event. The other suprise, was that they commissioned a Brett Hull statue to stand alongside the statues of Bernie Federko and Al MacInnis.
At one point someone yelled "I hate Mike Keenan" and it was obvious Hull heard, and chuckled a little, as did the crowd within earshot of the yeller.
The game itself was exciting, back and forth. The Blues looked like a young team. There were many missed passes, especially on the PP, which the crowd did not like. Honestly, this Blues team really reminds me of the Hawks in 2007, when they missed the playoffs by 3 points, but you knew this team was going to be fierce for quite a while. I fully expect the Blues and Hawks to be leading the division for the next 3-5 years.
Story about the HOF night for Hull http://dailyme.com/story/2009121600000045/blues-erect-statue-honor-brett-hull.html
The game ended in the best possible way, sending Calgary home with no points, after a beautiful goal by Oshie with about 4 minutes in the 3rd to give the Blues the 4-3 edge. I did have some questions for the Blues faithful, that they can answer for me. (this is being posted at both Second City Hockey, and St. Louis gametime). After each goal there was what I think was a woman, in the 300 level that was leading the crowd with a countdown of the goals, I think she threw a towel or shirt once as well. It was cool and the crowd got into it, can someone tell me exactly who that is, how it started and what exactly it's all about?
This was actually my first Blues game. I was in St Louis, for an annual medical check up. About two years ago, in August of 2007 I moved to St Louis. I rented an apartment in The Hill neighborhood, and brought my girlfriend with me. I had lived in Sycamore, IL basically my entire life. Sycamore is about 60 miles west of Chicago, and right next to Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. So moving to St Louis made me a little bit nervous.
I was born in 1982. For the first 3 months of my life I didn't really gain weight. I ended up in the hospital, for "failure to thrive". I was finally taken to a doctor that diagnosed me with Cystic Fibrosis.
Cystic Fibrosis, is a genetic disease that effects many parts of the body, but mainly the lungs. The body basically had a mucus buildup in the lungs that causes scarring and slowly reduces lung function. I really didn't have much problems until high school. I had been playing Soccer since I was 5, and took up hockey in Jr High, (roller hockey, because there were no ice rinks around Dekalb). In high school I started noticing it was getting harder to exert myself. I would cough a lot as I tried to get the junk out of my lungs. It was hard to put on weight as CF also effects the pancreas which lacks the necessary enzymes to digest food. I have to take enzymes when I eat to help digest my food.
I graduated in 2000 and started college. Over the next years I slowly got worse. Spending a week in the hospital every year became common. Then it was every 9 months, then twice a year.
At one point I was 104 pounds. (I'm 6 foot 2) in May of 2007 after a stay in the hospital and 2 weeks of IV antibiotics at home, I was put on oxygen full time. My lung function was hovering around 15-20%. My pulse was usually around 120-150 constantly, even while sleeping. My doctor told me that it's time to look into getting listed for a double lung transplant. He said that if it was his child, he would go to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis.
In July of 2007 my parents and I drove to St Louis, for a week long battery of tests and evaluation for a transplant. After the week, I was told I was a prime candidate for transplant, and I would be listed once I made arrangements to move to St Louis. I moved to St Louis with my girlfriend on Aug 25, 2007. I didn't have much to do, other then go to pulmonary rehab for an hour each day, We explored the city and quickly fell in love with it.
In November, two of my friends planned on driving down to visit, and we decided to catch a Blues game. The day before they were to come down, I got a call at 4:25 am, telling me to go to the hospital as a matching donor had been found.
On November 12, 2007 (Veterans day), I went into surgery at 1:00PM and successfully had 2 new lungs transplanted into me by 7:30 that night. I remember waking up the next morning and being able to breathe. It was amazing. I got out of the hospital in 8 days. I stayed in St Louis doing rehab for 3 months, and on Feb 15, 2008 I moved back home to Illinois.
About a week after I moved home, I got a card in the mail. It was fowarded to me from Barnes Hospital. Inside there was a photocopy of a hallmark card, that said:
"I was married to my husband Eric for 4 years, we have a son. He was an installation installer, and a die hard St Louis Blues fan" signed Angelia.
I bought a Blues jersey the next week. I now have some Blue Blood. My heart will always be warm for the city of St Louis, the Blues, and a fan named Eric, whose decision to be an organ donor, changed my life forever.
In June of 2008, I joined my friends in a local roller hockey league, and played hockey for the first time in over a decade.
I wanted to write this, because there's a good chance that you sat in the arena with Eric. You might have stood behind him in the line at the concession stand, or high fived him along with everyone in your section after a game winning goal. I wish I would have been able to meet him, he is my hero and I think about him and the gift he has given me every day.
Since I can't thank Eric, I now try to see everyone as a potential "Eric" for someone else, and I try to "pay it foward", especially with hockey fans. I hope to one day meet Eric's family and take them to a Blues game. I know that Eric would be happy this his lungs are getting used to their fullest, every shift I play.
On a side note, I don't want to be preachy, or anything, but 1 organ donor literally saved my life, and probably a few others. The reason the card I got was a photocopy, is because the average organ donor is able to be a donor to 7 individuals, changing and saving lives. Please take a monent and make sure your drivers license is signed if you're an organ donor, if you live in a state with a registry, please take the 10 minutes to sign up, and please discuss with your family your choice to give life.
Newspaper Article May 2009
Posted on Second City Hockey
Posted on St . Louis Game Time