On Tuesday, Doug Gilmour became only the third player drafted by the St. Louis Blues to be voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He joins Joe Mullen and Bernie Federko on the list of honoured (Canadian spelling) players. Sure Brett Hull and Wayne Gretzky, Al MacInnis and Glenn Hall all played for the Blues, some for long stretches, others...not so much, but Gilmour, Mullen and Federko were the only three to begin their careers here in St. Louis, all on Oakland Avenue in the Old Barn.
Coincidentally, none of the three retired as Blues. Mullen actually enjoyed his best seasons away from St. Louis, Gilmour won a Cup in Calgary and Federko spent just one season, his last, in Detroit. Let's forget that ever happened.
Gilmour was a popular player in St. Louis. He scored 149 goals in five seasons, notching a career best 42 in his fourth season in the league. And then the shit hit the fan. His daughter's teen-aged babysitter accused him of a sexual relationship. It was devastating. The entire city much less the league found out about it. He denied it up and down, but the damage was done. Sports Illustrated a few years later provides the necessary details:
He was practically run out of St. Louis in 1988, amid a storm of bad publicity, after he was accused of having sex with his daughter's teenage babysitter. However, a grand jury refused to bring an indictment against Gilmour, who denies that the alleged incident took place.
Gilmour really signifies an amazing run where the St. Louis Blues fielded some of the best and most recognizable players of the 1990s and won zero championships. They didn't even make a Conference Finals in the decade. Look at this list:
Gilmour: Traded because of the babysitter rumors
Scott Stevens: Lost as compensation for signing Brendan Shanahan
Rod Brind'Amour: After being offered as compensation for Shanahan, traded for the coach's brother, Ron Sutter, Murray Baron and Dan Quinn who was later accused of rape
Adam Oates: Traded after requesting his contract be renegotiated...after already having his contract renegotiated at his request
Phil Housley: Traded to Calgary for Al MacInnis (easily the best move on this list)
Curtis Joseph: Originally offered as compensation with Brind'Amour, later traded to Edmonton because Mike Keenan basically didn't like him
Wayne Gretzky: Did not re-sign with the team after a falling out with Mike Keenan
Brendan Shanahan: Traded for Chris Pronger after it was revealed he had an affair with teammate Craig Janney's wife
Brett Hull: Allowed to walk as a free agent after many in the organization said the team would never win a Cup with Hull. They were right, he won two on different teams while the Blues remain Cupless
Chris Pronger: Traded to Edmonton because owner Bill Laurie believed the team would be easier to sell with a lower payroll
Holy. Crap. And that list doesn't include other players who spent time here, mainly at the end of their careers: Glenn Anderson, Esa Tikkanen, Dale Hawerchuk, Grant Fuhr, Peter Stastny and Adam Creighton. Ok, Creighton's a stretch.
But what if the babysitter thing never happened? What if he had come into his own as a playmaker and defensive forward on the same team as Hull and Oates? Maybe the Blues don't try to make the deal for Shanahan and keep Scott Stevens (they're different kinds of players, but work with me). Even if they lost Stevens and still had Gilmour, the best teams of this era would have been that much better. He had 95 assists in 1992-93. He won the Selke Trophy. He killed the Blues in the playoffs that year.
If the Blues had kept Gilmour, maybe they would have made a Conference Final in the 1990s. Maybe he would have been the linchpin up front that would have accounted for Hull's indifference to defense during his best scoring days. If Gilmour had played his best years in St. Louis, the 1990s, they would have have fielded five or six current or future Hall of Famers during their primes at one point or another: Gilmour, Hull, Stevens, MacInnis, Pronger, Fuhr and Shanahan. And that's not including the guys who coasted to the finish line here.
Amazing. And frustrating. Frustazing even.