Thank you, NHL and Gary Bettman. For once, you weren't a complete moron. Let me explain.
St. Louis needed this win. A town with such a classy history that has gone through the ringer the past couple of years gets a nice assist from the NHL with the 2017 Winter Classic being held at Busch Stadium on January 1-2.
The Blues and Blackhawks will face off at center ice in front of a packed house carrying seas of red and surges of blue. The Budweiser will be flowing. Snow could be falling. Tempers will rise and boyhood dreams will come true. St. Louis won't look any better.
Yes, it's a win for the city. Every NHL city, outside of Pittsburgh and Washington, wait for their name to be called for this special event. The Stadium Series is nice and all, but that's JV team stuff. The Winter Classic is the main event and brings a city and its team tons of good press and attention. The Lou needs that right now.
It's not a ringing endorsement these days to say you are from St. Louis. People may look at you and raise their eyebrow after they manufacture a polite grin. It's not cool being #1 on the FBI's list of violent crimes, stupidity and most overall violence. That's not a stat that gets you love. It makes you revered and feared. Since the Ferguson riots and ensuing uptick in shooting deaths, St. Louis has taken a hit. Every time I look at my local news and see a South City gas station shooting or an innocent person catch a stray bullet or a hotel being overrun by a criminal, it makes me cringe. What the fuck is going on?
Since I moved to Little Rock, all I see is violence back home. Violence right next to my house off Wabosh and Mardel. It makes me sad that a little injustice, misunderstanding and ill will has caused this monstrous rise. Yes, these things happen other places but nowhere near as frequently. How do you tell a city to calm down and take a breath? It won't be cured by one hockey game at a baseball stadium, but hopefully the unity shown and the passion on display can take the mind off the deadly noise that flows through the streets.
The Winter Classic will also give the sad St. Louis football fans a good reason to think about giving hockey a shot. It's like being told to listen to a rock band and needing to be convinced so you request a live show. The Blues and Hawks at Busch Stadium is a loud anthem to all neighborhood ex-Rams fans to come down and join in the fun. Bury the hatchet with a little action. I implore any non hockey fan to give a chance live. It will change your mind.
What makes hockey so electrifying and great is its ability to combine skill, grace, and physicality on one slab of ice. What makes the Winter Classic so special is the national attention it gathers and dispenses to each team. The cable network EPIX will do a four episode show chronicling the buildup to the event and following each team closely. The city will see an uptick in business as travelers will arrive to see the spectacle while getting a look at the Cathedral of America's Greatest Pastime. Who can say no to this? Even the NHL couldn't resist anymore.
It will be a kick seeing Brett Hull and his dad, Bobby, drop the puck at center ice. David Backes might even be there to square up against his favorite little punk, Jonathan Toews. Our Russian superstar, Vladimir Tarasenko, will square up against Chicago's most popular athlete under investigation, Patrick Kane. Corey Crawford will drag his Ben Stiller frat boy slab of meat up against Jake Allen. Colton Parayko will be winding up at the point, sending pucks at the net or into right field. Saying these two teams don't like each other is like saying water doesn't care for oil. Just because they are eating at the mansion's dining table doesn't mean fists won't fly.
What does this mean to St. Louis? Everything. Financially, emotionally and even a little cerebral comfort that the city isn't being forgotten about. When was the last time you got to watch a hockey game in a baseball stadium? Never. It's been 50 years since the Blues tore into the league with a vengeance(Scotty Bowman and Cup finals!) and this is a perfect way to celebrate that entrance.
Some Blues. Some Hawks. Love. Hate. War. All on a slab of ice at Busch. Tell me how it gets better than this. While some may call this game a band-aid on a torn up town, I see it as a chance for people to get to know one another and some healing to be done. Or, it could just be a great game.
Please, St. Louis Blues fans, make it 60-40 in your favor. Don't let Chicago steal this day like they have everything else. Bring your annoying friend, neighbor and aunt. Just do it. For one day, lets make the blue outnumber the red at Busch Stadium. Wow, that was weird.
Now, about this 2015-16 season.....wouldn't it be cool if Lord Stanley belonged to St. Louis when the puck was dropped on January 2nd? Get to work, Blues. There's a party to get ready for.