With last night's official announcement that the 2017 NHL Winter Classic will be in St. Louis at Busch Stadium, years of day dreaming suddenly became reality. (No, not as many years as day dreaming of a Market Street parade, but years nonetheless.)
Blues fans have gotten through their New Year's Day hangovers to watch other cities beam with pride at hosting the league's marquee regular season event since 2008. St. Louis has consistently been among the top markets in Winter Classic TV ratings, despite the Blues having never had a sniff of the action until now.
One of the central charms of the Winter Classic is how the event tries to honor the local city, especially the stadium, in which it's being played. Singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field. "Sweet Caroline" at Fenway. Terrible Towels at Heinz Field. Recordings of Kate Smith in Philadelphia. A dude taking a dump in a bag in Detroit. Not playing in Minnesota. All iconic.
So now that we know we'll finally be let into the gang, what St. Louis-specific local flair needs to be at Busch Stadium next January? I polled twitter last night for some of your responses, but first a few that I think are absolutely vital.
I put Charlie Glenn first because this one is the most important to me, and I imagine many Blues fans. Charles Glenn is as much a part of the Blues hockey experience as organ music, hip checking, and early tee times on May 10th. Most teams have their go-to anthem singers that fans adore, but Charles' pipes flaunt incredible range, and the soul he brings night-in-and-night-out perfectly matches a franchise named after such a cultural influence as blues music. The absolute last thing St. Louis' Winter Classic needs is to have Charles Glenn replaced by some generic, white-ass country singer, probably named Blake McGruff or some shit.
Despite the NHL's attempts to make each outdoor game feel like a celebration of the city in which it's being played, they have consistently yielded to pressure from NBC to give up the National Anthem slot to some random recent winner of The Voice, as if people who watch The Voice are going to tune into the Winter Classic for the singular purpose of listening to the anthem singer. This particularly hit Boston fans hard, as their beloved Rene Rancourt has twice been denied the chance to sing the National Anthem at the Winter Classic despite significant fan pleading. (You'd think that if the NHL could give Boston two Winter Classics, they'd let Rene sing at at least one of them.) The only exception the NHL has made? Yeah, three guesses who that was for.
The bottom line: Charles Glenn must be present at the 2017 Winter Classic. If not as the anthem singer, than at the very least by singing "When the Blues Go Marching In," another staple that needs to happen.
2. The Clydesdales
How do you explain the Clydesdales to non-St. Louisans? Personally, I think Park & Recreation captured the feeling pretty perfectly:
A pregame parade of the Clydesdales - I'm talking full hitch, baby, not the single horse that the American Outlaws got for the US National Team game - is an absolute must. To hold the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium without them would feel like the entire event was a waste. And I'm not planning on spending $800 for my all my friends and family to experience a wasted event.
And if we can truly slip into the fanciful for a second, imagine parading a newly won Stanley Cup around on the wagon next to a World Series trophy, with a dalmatian sitting between them, showcasing them to all the Chicago fans in the building. I'm feeling frisky just thinking about it.
3. Organ Music; Specifically "Here Comes The King"
Something tells me this one is not even being thought about, it's such a forgone conclusion, but if one thing unites the Blues and Cardinals fan experience, it's that sweet, sweet pipe organ. The organ is one of the few things that has remained truly constant since 1967, and the Blues celebrating their 50th anniversary without it? They might as well take the ice wearing a solid orange sweater. Of course it must be played by Jeremy Boyer, too - baring the creation of an Ernie Hays Hologram.
4. A Special Double Issue of St. Louis Game Time/The Committed Indian
Far be it for me to tell Brad or the Committed Indian crew how to do their jobs, but seeing as the two papers are linked to each other not just by the Blues-Blackhawks rivalry, but by being the only fan-made papers of their kind in North American sports (that we know of), the opportunity for an extra special joint edition sounds too good of an idea to pass up. Until the day these teams meet in the Western Conference Finals (which could be sooner rather than later, even with divisional playoffs), this game will likely become the signature match-up for the rivalry of this era. Why not get together & sell to all 48,000 fans of either team?
5. Towel Man in Big Mac Land
OK, I know, I know, but hear me out...we all know Towelie isn't exactly the most popular guy in the Game Time Universe. I don't blame you either. He's kind of an attention whore, but damnit if he isn't our attention whore! More importantly, the counting of goals is a fantastic Blues fan tradition that will outlive us all, as well it should, and there's no way that it won't make its way outdoors. And if there's a goal to count, come hell or high water Towel Man will count it for us. So why not put him in the most attention grabbing spot, complete with built in marketing opportunities for the guy? And who knows, maybe the national attention he'll get by being on NBC (hopefully several times during the game) will give him enough faux celebrity status that he'll retire, finally satisfied.
So, what did you guys think the Winter Classic at Busch needs to feel like it's ours? Let's find out!
@JMill1120 A giant stature of a toasted ravioli— Brian Simpson (@bmsimp) March 10, 2016
@JMill1120 somebody has to do a backflip before the game. @StLouisGameTime— Joe Barker (@_JoeB) March 10, 2016
My money's on Kevin Shattenkirk.
@JMill1120 @StLouisGameTime a #KroenkeSucks chant just for good measure on national TV?— Harrison Milfeld (@hmilfeld) March 10, 2016
Well obviously. Fuck that guy.
@lakestump @JMill1120 @greekfire and @TheUrgeRocks— St Louis Game Time (@StLouisGameTime) March 10, 2016
If you don't get to check PTMFUS off your Winter Classic Game Time Bingo Card, then what are we all even doing here?
Nelly. #Nelly4WinterClassic https://t.co/OXObI0iu38— Tylo Ren (@KingDonutI) March 10, 2016
I would make a "Hot N Hurr" joke about how we won't have any snow, but I think you guys have come to expect a better quality of humor around these parts.
A guide on the quickest route to get out of St Louis. https://t.co/31doBvd9VW— Pez MLTC (@PezDOY) March 10, 2016
Sorry, but I do have a guide on the quickest route you can take to hell.
@JMill1120 Let Mike Shannon call it.— Tim Wiemers (@TimW_GT) March 10, 2016
"HEHEHEHE - Welcome to Busch Stadium ladies & gents. Happy New Year to all you out there, and to our Jewish listeners, Happy Hanukkah!"
@JMill1120 @StLouisGameTime rally squirrel— Corey Reese (@CReese87) March 10, 2016
We will never forget you, Rally Squirrel.