Today in and of itself was a highlight. The opportunity to see Blues alumni - many of whom were our childhood heroes - play one last time was incredible. As someone who was a kid when she fell in love with the team, I missed seeing Brett Hull and Adam Oates together on the ice. Today rectified that, and added the added bonus of Wayne Gretzky, Bernie Federko, Mike Liut, and others.
It was, for every fan at the highest-attended alumni game in NHL history, an incredible day.
Post-game, Brett Hull and Wayne Gretzky were nice enough to sit down and entertain press questions after the game. Gretzky had high praise for the Blues organization and their involvement in youth hockey movements in the region, citing the increased team support and involvement as a major factor in growing the sport in the Midwest.
Hull was blown away by the fan support at the alumni game. Visibly excited, Hull described his experience as:
It was fantastic. I kind of went on the Ken Hitchcock plan and I didn't want to come in. I didn't want to know what it looked like. I didn't want to see it. I wanted to walk up the stairs and really get a surprise.
And it was bigger and better and more exciting than I ever could come close to imagining. It just shows you what great sports fans the St. Louis area has.
It's been, since they announced it in the city and the Blues and the Cardinals, they did a wonderful job in promoting [the Winter Classic]. And now that it's here, I think having this game here, a couple days ahead of the real one, I think it's going to be even more exciting, because I think they saw even as slow and as old as [the alumni] were, it was still exciting. And they can feel the Blackhawks/Blues game coming, and it's a real game.
The whole thing wasn’t just fun and games for Hull - he described going from pumped up for participation to “every stride was agony.” Age apparently catches up to us all, unless you’re Pierre Turgeon.