Al Arbour is one of the greatest to ever coach a hockey game, and Blues fans know what the franchise lost when the team fired him in 1972, another casualty - like Scotty Bowman - of Sid Solomon III. Bowman recounts that the team told him that "Al is a good sergeant, but he’s not a general," which may be the greatest underestimation of a coach in NHL history.
Dan O'Neill has written a beautiful write-up of Arbour's achievements, both with the Blues and with the New York Islanders, the team he's most closely associated with. But it's not for a happy occasion. Arbour, 82, is dealing with Parkinson's disease and dementia, and he's fighting as hard through both as someone can. He's currently in hospice care.
O'Neill has an addendum at the end of his article (which you absolutely should read) that caught my eye:
No. 3 is in a tough game now. He’s doing his best to block the shots, but he could use a little inspiration. Claire Arbour speaks of how much her husband cherished his days with the Blues, how they loved their time in St. Louis.
He still perks up to hear the old stories and visit with old friends.
If you’d like, send him a card at The Pines, 1501 North Orange Ave., Sarasota, Fla., 34236.
Simply address it to Al Arbour. There are no sergeants there by that name.
So, what do you say, Game Timers? Let's tell Al how much he means to us and to the franchise. If you're old enough to remember seeing him play, tell him that. If you're like me, and have to rely on stories from your folks, tell him how much you envy your parents having the opportunity to watch him in action. This is a good chance to tell him how much we love him before we can't let him know that any more.