I'm pretty sure that if I hear/read/see the phrase "The Cardinal Way" one more time I may kick something [ed. note: this does not count in this article]. Sportswriters have been either singing its praises, recognizing that it means nurturing talent through a farm team, being patient, and doing what needs to be done - or else they've been relentlessly mocking it as a humorless, holier-than-thou game beloved by The Best Fans In Baseball.
Guess what, St. Louis - it's not over.
The Cardinals may be done, washed out in a four games to two World Series defeat that left many fans wondering what way they were following, but the Blues season is off to a great start. Major goal scoring has been on display from the normally defensively minded club. You won't be seeing any high fiving of the bench, though, whenever one is scored.
I guess it's time for people to start calling the Blues humorless, to say that they're sanctimonious sourpusses.
In this age of end-zone dances, home-run bows and slam-dunk poses, it’s a hard to imagine, hard to fathom professional athletes would opt for substance over spectacle. But the Blues are doing just that.
Perhaps you noticed during the last two games, wins over Nashville and Winnipeg. When the line of David Backes, Alexander Steen and T.J Oshie have been on the ice for Blues’ goals — and that has been the case on six occasions — there has been no skate to the bench for a Conga line of high-fives.
There has been the traditional raised arms, the traditional hugs and smiles among those involved. And there has been a return to positions for the drop of the puck. In short, the Blues act like they’ve been there before, and aspire to be there again.
Uhoh. First off, let's just get this out of the way: where have the Blues "been?" The playoffs? Sure. You can say that the Cardinals have been there before because there is the World Series and they've managed to win it eleven times. "There" for the Blues as of right now means back-to-back losses to the LA Kings.
It is a maturity thing, for sure. You don't want to run around yelling "neener neener neener" after you've scored a goal, and captain David Backes has a very valid point when he compares the high-five line to a "high school, college type of play." Rubbing it into your opponents faces is immature and it is unsportsmanlike; if the Blues view the high-five line as that, then they are right to say "hey, this is something we need to stop."
Apparently the idea came from some Elder Statesmen like Paul Coffey, Brett Hull, and Kelly Chase - stop with the celebrating and just do your job. Be workmanlike. Coach Ken Hitchcock approves, and to be honest, the old guys have a valid argument. Celebrate on the ice, but prove your point through goal scoring.
The trick is not to kill any exuberance. The killing of exuberance is where people (especially with the Cardinals and their perceived response to the Los Angeles Dodgers) get upset. There is a clear cut difference between getting carried away out of actual excitement (see: Yakupov, Nail), showboating, and rubbing it in to piss off your opponents. The former is fun and helps fans get caught up in the moment. It's also more often than not an organic experience that just happens. The latter two are being assholes.
Some may think that the high fives aren't a jerk move; others might think they are. In sports it's best to err on the side of sportsmanship, because you never can tell when you're going to piss off an opponent after rubbing something in their faces. There's some self preservation that needs to be involved: don't do it because it's the Right Thing To Do. Do it because you want to do everything possible to win that game, and don't want to poke a sleeping giant.
Is this the start of overwhelming class being associated with the Blues? Are Blues fans now going to be mockingly called The Best Fans In Hockey? Somehow I don't think so - there will always be after the whistle shenanigans or stupid penalties taken out of frustration. That's going to be part of The Blues Way until someone steps up and addresses that. Should it be addressed? Probably so, since it impacts the score more than celebrations do - and also impacts the perception of the team.
Are the Blues going to get made fun of for the article in the Post-Dispatch? Of course. People's radar are tuned in to any chance they can to make fun of St. Louis teams right now. The Blues need to be impolite and shut them up through scoring.
There'll be time to be nice in the off-season.