Tuesdays With Hildy: An Open Letter To Tom Stillman

Dilip Vishwanat

The Blues might have one of the newest ownership groups in the NHL, but rumor has it that they've been part of the group of owners who are supporting the lockout. Neither Tom Stillman nor other members of the Blues' top brass will read this, but why not get out how we, as fans, feel?

Dear Mr. Stillman,

Hi! Welcome to the NHL, of course. It would be remiss of me to not congratulate you on your purchase of the Central Division Champion St. Louis Blues. There's so much that I'm sure that you and the fans both are looking forward to this season!

Like, you know, having the season start.

I know that the Blues aren't the biggest fish in the pond. Heck, according to Forbes, we're the smallest. That doesn't matter much to the fans, though. We don't necessarily care about you inking the biggest stars, just the smartest players. The Blues haven't been big spenders in recent memory, so it's ok if you keep that trend up. We won't hold it against you. Honestly, most of the fans of the team are kind of proud of the achievements of the team last season, and that is augmented by the fact that they didn't need a superstar to make the city believe in them again. All they needed was some hard work and determination, and ta da! Success!

Funny how that works, isn't it, sir? Hard work and determination. Learning to work together as a team for the common good. All of that good ol' fashioned teamwork and sportsmanship stuff. The guys on the ice know what that's about. Blues fans are concerned that the gentlemen in the boardroom don't exactly have a grip on the concept, though. There seems to be some division between the haves and have nots as far as owners go. Some teams can afford a year off. Some teams can't. I have read elsewhere that the Blues are one of the ones who might be trying to extend the lockout to get the most favorable terms. That confuses the fans a bit, Mr. Stillman.

Why would you want to throw away the chance to make money? You and I both know that attendance, had this season started on time, would have been through the roof. The banner raising ceremony on opening night? Bet you no one who would have attended that game could have spoken the next day from all the yelling and celebrating. Fans really wanted to see if the team could take the next step this year; we wondered if they could maybe get that Western Conference Champions banner. It's been a while.

Instead it'll just be a while until we can see the division championship banner raised to the rafters. It'll be a while until the guys get together again and try to find the momentum and chemistry that made the team so successful. Time is money, Mr. Stillman, but just as important as that, time is hockey. The longer that they're away from the rink, the more likely it is that their production slips off or -- God forbid -- a repeat of the 2005-2006 season happens. Blues fans have suffered without a Cup for over 40 years, and I know a lot of people whose hearts couldn't take watching another debacle like seven seasons ago happen again.

We all love this team very much. We like to think that you, a local businessman, do too. You were one of the members of the old guard who would go to road games, and who followed the team just as much as a fan as an owner. You know how we all feel without the team to watch, because you don't have them either.

I'm not expecting you to talk some sense into Jeremy Jacobs at the Board of Governors meeting or anything, but please -- you and the smaller teams, the ones not in huge markets -- please try to get this thing resolved sooner rather than later. There're more of you than there are the big guys. Like the Blues have proven, David and Goliath isn't just a story. The little guys can win sometimes. Maybe not the whole thing every time, no. But they can still make progress and still chip away at the establishment.

We feel like you can too.

Thank you so much,

The Fans Of The St. Louis Blues

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