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Memorabilia Memories: Hall Of Famer Bernie Federko

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.

Mitchell and Ness signed Bernie Federko Blues jersey; Custom Crafted with HOF and Arena patches
Mitchell and Ness signed Bernie Federko Blues jersey; Custom Crafted with HOF and Arena patches
Rick Ackerman

Memorabilia Memories

with Rick Ackerman                                                              20 February 15 Boston Bruins

Bernard Allan Federko was born on May 12, 1956 in the town of Foam Lake,  (population 1,148 in 2011) Saskatchewan, located in an agricultural area southeast of Saskatoon on the Yellowhead Highway. Founded in 1882, Foam Lake was incorporated as a town in 1924 and is the home of the Quill Lakes International Bird Area, which attracts visitors from around the world.

Starting in 1962 (at age six), Federko played locally for the next ten years, eventually playing for the Foam Lake Flyers senior club. And then beginning with the 1973-74 season, Federko traveled south to Saskatoon, where he starred for the junior Blades of the amateur Western Canada Hockey League for three seasons, leading his team to the league finals in 1975 and 1976.  He broke Bobby Clarke's single season record for points with 187 (including 72 goals in 72 games). Federko also led the playoffs that season with 45 points (18 goals) in 20 games. He also earned first team All-Star status and won the WCHL Most Valuable Player award.

As a result of his proficiency and incredible skill, Federko was drafted sixth overall by the Edmonton Oilers of the World Hockey Association in the 1976 WHA draft. Of course, he was also selected with the seventh pick of the NHL Amateur Draft by the St. Louis Blues, just behind teammates Blair Chapman (second overall by Pittsburgh) and Fred Williams (fourth overall by Detroit). In the second round of the 1976 draft, the Blues picked up left winger Brian Sutter (20th overall) from the Lethbridge Broncos of the WCHL, as well as goaltender Mike Liut in the fourth round (56th overall) from Bowling Green State University (CCHA).

After a strong training camp with the Blues later that year, Federko was dispatched to the Blues Central Hockey League farm club in Kansas City to start the season. He scored 69 points (30 goals) in 42 games played and along with Sutter (38 points in 38 games with 15 goals) was recalled to St. Louis where he recorded 23 points (14 goals) in 31 games. He also added a goal and an assist in four playoff games that season. His efforts in Kansas City were not forgotten, though, as he won the Ken McKenzie Trophy as rookie of the year and a berth on the second all star team.

For the next 12 seasons Federko would don the Note and pile up the points. The 1978-79 season was his break-out year as he led an overall weak team with 95 points (31 goals) in 74 games, eighth in the entire league. His best season was during the 1983-84 campaign, in which Federko scored 107 points in 79 games, including 41 goals. His best playoff year was in 1986 when he totaled 21 points in 19 games including 7 goals. Overall, Federko led the Blues in scoring nine times (in 13 seasons), including eight consecutively 1979-86, along with three straight 100 points seasons from 1984-86.

In 1989, Federko (and left winger Tony McKegney) was dealt to Detroit in a shocking trade that saw center Adam Oates and right winger Paul MacLean come to St. Louis. After his lowest point total since his rookie season, Federko decided to retire from the NHL in 1990. At that time, Federko held 11 St. Louis Blues' career records, including games played, goals, assists and points. And he still holds the all-time Blues' records for games played (927), assists (721) and points (1,073). His #24 jersey was retired and hoisted to the ceiling at the TradeStocks Center in 1991 and Federko was officially inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

After a brief stint as General Manager of the St. Louis Vipers of the Roller Hockey International League in 1993 and 1994, Federko continued to do television color commentary for the Blues. This is his 14th consecutive season, his sixth as an ice-level analyst between the benches for home games, occasionally replaced by Darren Pang, especially this season. Of course over the years, Federko has also appeared on KMOX radio broadcasts.

I am more than happy to report that I have been privileged to get to know Bernie personally through several Blues' fantasy camps and various events and public gatherings over the last ten years or so. Playing with him as my center was a thrill as he hit my tape with every pass (and set me up, along with Tom Stillman, for my first goal), as was sitting on the bench discussing play and strategy. And he gave me personal advice on how to deal with accepting declining skills while playing hockey and knowing when it is time to hang up the skates and stop competitive play. Bernie is quite the guy, always quick with a good story, always quick with a handshake and a smile.

If St. Louis had a Mount Rushmore of hockey, Federko would have his face carved in stone as one of the four greatest Blues ever. Perhaps this quote best describes his love for hockey and for the Blues, "One thing that Barclay and Bobby Plager taught us was that that blue note we wore was sacred. That sweater never hit the floor. If anybody threw their sweater on the floor, there was a price to pay. We carried that on. YOU took pride in what you did to wear the blue note."

Please join me in the next edition of Game Time tomorrow for a feature on another great Blues television personality, Darren Pang.