There was a brief moment in time that the St. Louis Rams were a good football team. It was only a couple years, but they were one of the best teams in the history of the NFL. It was surprising how fast the Greatest Show On Turf faded away -- almost as surprising as their ascension to the top of the mountain.
In 1995, their first season in St. Louis, they finished 7-9. The next year they won six games. Then five and then in 1998 they won four. It almost cost Dick Vermeil his job after two seasons. That summer they traded for Marshall Faulk, drafted Tory Holt, signed Adam Timmerman and Trent Green. Oh, and had Kurt Warner fall out of the sky. But beyond adding players, they had to change a mindset.
D'Marco Farr was a defensive lineman on that team that won the 1999 Super Bowl, a holdover from Los Angeles. He's now an afternoon host on 101 FM here in St. Louis. He told a story recently that really resonated with me. That summer one of the assistant coaches would drop into team meetings and conversations a simple phrase: Why not the St. Louis Rams? It was an easy question, but a loaded one. Of course the Rams never talked about being Super Bowl contenders, especially heading into that season. They were challenging Cincinnati for the worst record of the 1990s. They weren't contenders. But then, why the hell were guys playing? Was it just for a paycheck? Or did they go through grueling practices in August to get better, to become a winning team? Before they could win anything, they had to believe they could.
Why not the St. Louis Blues? Oh sure, they're not an Original Six team and they've never won a Finals game much less a Cup. They haven't won a playoff game since the spring of 2004. The team has been for sale for months now; they probably can't afford to make much noise at the trade deadline even though its well under the salary cap. But why not the St. Louis Blues?
That history of failing in the playoffs is history. This group of players didn't lose to the Sharks in the first round in 2000. These guys didn't lose Geoff Courtnall and Cliff Ronning in a trade. This squad didn't turn the puck over to Steve Yzerman in the neutral zone in front of Jon Casey. That stuff doesn't affect one damn thing about the 2011-12 St. Louis Blues.
We're now getting into mid-February and the Blues are winning games they probably shouldn't (Hello Devils!). They're dominating teams that are obviously inferior. And they've won their share against the best teams in the league. Why not the St. Louis Blues. It's not a question. It's a statement.
From here to the end of the season, whenever that may be, my new motto is why not the St. Louis Blues. I hope it's yours too. Use it on Twitter. Facebook. Somebody make a damn shirt. It means we're confident, behind our team, and that we have expectations. Hopefully the players feel it too. And it means anything is possible.
You know why we give Wings fans so much shit (other than the fact that they have such thin skin and always react)? We're tired of our team getting pushed around. And now we finally have a team that can push back.
Why not the St. Louis Blues?