Lighting the Lamp
with Rick Ackerman 14 November 15 Chicago Blackhawks
The last time that the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks tangled was a night to remember as the Blues bacon-roared back from a 2-5 deficit to edge the Hawks 6-5 on Vladi Tarasenko's spectacular overtime goal. With everything seemingly going against the Blues, including foggy travel problems which saw their plane diverted to Milwaukee and a long bus ride to Chicago, the boys nevertheless triumphed and stole the game in large part due to the excellent play of Jake Allen, who is slowly but surely working his way into becoming the Blues' #1 goalie. A battered and bruised Brian Elliott suffered his first bad game in six starts and was eventually yanked when he was banged into and hurt. And then Allen outdid himself in both New Jersey and Nashville, making 69 saves in 2-0 and 4-0 victories.
The visiting Blackhawks will surely still be smarting from being embarrassed so badly by the Blues on home ice last week, so it will most likely be a rough and tumble affair as the Hawks seek to gain a measure of revenge tonight. They won't have another chance until the two divisional rivals meet again on January 24, 2016, the last game before the All-Star break. It behooves the Blues to be ready for a furious start and brace against a strong Chicago attack in the first period, which happens to be St. Louis' worst period, outscored 14 to 9, out shot 160 to 137 in 15 games so far, not including the last game against the Rangers.
Tonight's contest will also give the Blues a chance to do something they have been unable to do so far this season, score a power play goal on home ice. In six previous games, the Blues are a combined 0 for 21 with the man advantage. In comparison, the penalty killers have done a fairly good job, allowing only four power play goals against while being shorthanded the same 21 times. In nine road games, the Blues have seven power play goals on 27 attempts; they have allowed five power play goals against while shorthanded 37 times. Interesting penalty stats, eh?
All-Star winger Patrick Kane will be playing, something quite unexpected back in early August when Kane was accused of rape by a woman from Buffalo he met at a bar and then took to his home. It certainly looked like he was guilty at first. However, the grand jury investigation stalled and was postponed in September amid speculation that an out-of-court settlement was forthcoming. Then just earlier this month, the case was abruptly dropped by the Erie County District Attorney when the accuser decided not to move ahead with criminal charges against Kane. Lack of "proof-based" evidence [Note the quotes. ed.] and the accuser's "lack of cooperation" were also cited as factors in the decision by the DA.
Veteran St. Louis hockey fans easily remember a similar situation with a totally different outcome when a Blues player was accused of a similar crime in 1988. Doug Gilmour was drafted by the Blues in the seventh round of the 1982 Entry Draft and played five seasons in St. Louis, scoring 149 goals and 354 points in 384 games, establishing himself as a solid, two-way NHL center. Early in August, 1988, Gilmour was sued by the parents of a then 13 year old babysitter Doug and his wife Robyn had hired. It was alleged that Gilmour seduced and had sex with the teenager, although there was no police report at the time of the alleged incident. The Blues organization and President Jack Quinn were also named in the million dollar lawsuit.
One week later on September 6, Gilmour was traded to Calgary (basically for center Mike Bullard, who scored four goals for the Blues in 20 games before being traded to Philadelphia). Amid rumors that the Blues tried to negotiate a payment to the accusers, it surely looked like Gilmour was guilty, especially after being traded to a team in Canada. However, in October the Gilmours counter-sued for slander and libel and a Grand Jury was convened by St. Louis County prosecutor George "Buzz" Westfall to investigate and see if criminal charges against Gilmour were warranted. Westfall, by the way, was a close personal friend of Blues chairman Michael Shanahan. Shanahan was also one of the biggest contributors to Westfall's election campaign. In a bizarre twist, Westfall arrested the defense counsel, Richard Schwartz, and had him indicted on felony charges of concealing a crime, failing to report that his underage client was a victim of statutory rape. With several different legal proceedings winding their way through the courts, it was virtually impossible to determine the truth about what happened and eventually the lawsuits were all dropped, especially when the Grand Jury failed to indict Gilmour for any crime.
Gilmour went on to play fifteen more seasons for Calgary, Toronto, New Jersey, Chicago, Buffalo and Montreal, amassing 301 more goals and 1060 more points in 1090 NHL games. He won a Stanley Cup in 1989, his first year with Calgary, and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.