By Brian Weidler
March 24, 2006 may well go down in history as the day the St. Louis Blues took the first real steps towards the "elite" levels that the franchise has been flirting with since its inception in 1967.
On the previous night, March 23, the Blues were mathematically eliminated from the NHL playoffs for the first time in almost three decades. A 25-season run of playoff appearances officially ended that night, but as one door closed, a new one opened.
The following day, Dave Checketts was announced as the new owner of the Blues, pledging to build a Stanley Cup winner for the fans, who, as he noted, "never let the Bluenote hit the floor."
That night, 2003 draftee David Backes made his pro debut, scoring his first professional goal in the third period of a 3-0 Rivermen win over San Antonio. While this was going on, 2005 first-round pick T.J. Oshie was notching the game-winning goal on the power play in North Dakota's 5-1 victory in the NCAA Midwest Regional semi-final.
Later that evening came the first reports of a strong rumor that 26-year-old Magnus Kahnberg, a premier scorer with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite league (Elitserien) for the last three years, was close to signing a contract with the Blues. Kahnberg, acquired from Carolina in the Doug Weight trade, looks to be skilled enough for a scoring-line wing slot with the 2006-07 Blues.
A vision for the future in Checketts. A solid pro debut for a potential power forward. An unheralded first-round pick continuing to establish himself as a premier player. And a skilled young European apparently on the verge of making St. Louis the place where he launches an NHL career. All of this bodes very well for the future of this franchise, and I think I can safely say in the name of all those who never let the Bluenote hit the floor... it's about damn time!
More to come. Remember... "if we do not prepare for ourselves the role of the hammer, there will be nothing left but that of the anvil." Auf wiedersehen.