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Memorabilia Memories: Chasin' Pucks

You might recognize the "Memorabilia Memories" (formerly "Lighting the Lamp") feature from the Game Time paper. Rick Ackerman has been nice enough to send over his column for the website. "Memorabilia Memories" will be featured every home game day.

1993-94 (2nd set) signed game-worn Kelly Chase Blues jersey
1993-94 (2nd set) signed game-worn Kelly Chase Blues jersey
Rick Ackerman

Memorabilia Memories, with Rick Ackerman

Blues' fans have always been blessed with the highest quality television and radio announcers and commentators, harkening back to the first years of the franchise when Dan Kelly and Gus Kyle (and Jack Buck the first year) entranced us older fans with their excellent work. And that tradition continues to this day as we are most fortunate indeed to have John Kelly, Bernie Federko, Darren Pang, Chris Kerber and Kelly Chase (and occasionally Bob Plager or Terry Yake as well) to entertain and delight us with their superb contributions as announcers and commentators. So, it is and will be my pleasure to share with you, faithful reader, more about four of these gentlemen in this and the next three editions of Game Time.

Kelly Wayne Chase was born on 25 October 1967 in Porcupine Plain (population 855 in 2011), just off Highway 23 near the Greenwater Lake Provincial Park in eastern Saskatchewan. Interesting historical trivia about Porcupine Plain includes that the first post office and restaurant were built in 1929, the first non-church school in 1935 and the first outdoor skating rink in 1936. It is also listed at the town's official website that in 1988, Kelly Chase began his NHL hockey career with the St. Louis Blues (the only NHL related historical event listed).

Actually, Chase had played with the Saskatoon Blades of the incredibly rough and tumble amateur Western Hockey League, starting in 1985 as a brash 18 year old. In three regular seasons (195 games), he accumulated 55 goals and 71 assists, as well as a whopping 832 penalty minutes. In 30 playoff games, Chase scored eight goals, 17 assists and 106 penalty minutes. Does anybody out there have a battered and battle-worn Chase Blades game worn jersey they would like to sell me?

Signed by the Blues as an un-drafted free agent in February, 1988, Chase began his professional career with the Peoria Rivermen of the IHL, registering 14 goals in 38 games along with seven assists and a mind-boggling 278 penalty minutes, averaging over seven minutes per game. After ten games in Peoria the following season, Chase was recalled by the Blues and played 43 games, scoring one goal and three assists, racking up an amazing 244 penalty minutes, almost six minutes per game.

1990-1991 was the season in which the Rivermen won the IHL's Turner Cup by defeating the Fort Wayne Komets in six games. Although Chase scored 20 goals (and 34 assists in 61 games), he was eighth in team scoring behind David Bruce (64 goals), Dave Thomlinson (53), Michel Mongeau (41), Nels Emerson (36), Jim Vesey (32), Kevin Miehm (25) and Steve Tuttle (24). Chase also accumulated 406 penalty minutes. In ten playoff games to win the championship, Chase contributed four goals and seven points, along with 61 penalty minutes. That earned him a post-season call-up by the Blues and he played in two regular season games and six playoff games the rest of the way, scoring one goal with 33 penalty minutes total in those eight games.

The following three seasons were all with the Blues, each cut short by injuries. Point production dropped off, yet Chase still earned a lot of penalties, compiling 746 minutes in 163 games, an average of almost five per game. In January of 1995, Hartford selected Chase in the Waiver Draft where he spent most of the rest of three seasons with the Whalers. In 111 games, Chase scored three goals and 13 points with just under 500 penalty minutes. He was traded to Toronto in 1997, playing two games for the Maple Leafs before being traded back to the Blues over the summer for future considerations. Somehow he made it through parts of three more seasons with the Blues before retiring in July, 2000. In 458 total NHL games over 11 seasons, Chase accumulated 2017 penalty minutes, as well as 17 goals and 53 points, finishing second (to Brian Sutter) on the all-time list of Blues penalty minute leaders.

This is the 14th season in which Chase has been the analyst for the Blues radio broadcasts. He also is a member of the team on the NHL Network, appearing at various times as well on selected Canadian broadcasting companies as his schedule allows. He has polished his on-camera persona to the point where is easily one of the most articulate, knowledgeable commentators anywhere, combing his terrific memory with an obvious love for "old-school", rock 'em-sock 'em hockey. Chase also appeared (as himself) on the popular Canadian talk show hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos in 2010 and another very successful Canadian television series Battle of the Blades, a competition combining a hockey player with a figure skater. Chase reportedly lost over 50 pounds in training for this series of shows.

On a personal note, I have had the opportunity to interact with "Chaser" on a number of occasions, including several Blues Fantasy Camps and one alumni game in Peoria. Always on the opposite team, Kelly always made me feel at home, whacking me on the pads or knocking me down with a good hit (in no-checking games yet). One memorable face-off resulted in him high-sticking me across the cage of my helmet and throwing me down, chirping as he skated away, "Welcome to the NHL, kid..." What grand memories I have "interacting" with the Blues tough guy!

Please join me in the next edition of Game Time in which I recall my memories playing and chatting hockey with the arguably best over-all center in Blues history, Bernie Federko (HHoF 2002).