FanPost

The Los Angeles Rams Are the Best Thing That's Ever Happened to the St. Louis Blues

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It was with great excitement that Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke announced on January 12 that he was taking his football, and heading far away from his home in Columbia, Missouri.

Shortly following a season that included an absence of nearly twenty thousand fans at the team’s home opener, a city that was once home to The Greatest Show on Turf, began life without its NFL franchise. Criticism of fan dedication and economic prowess were among the backhanded slaps that St. Louis took in the relocation process; leaving a firestorm of resentment, confusion, and ultimately, grieving, in its wake.

Meanwhile, a team over on Clark Avenue was going about business as usual. Now, nearly four months following the Rams’ departure, the Blues are continuing to do just that, as they carry on with their second round matchup with the Dallas Stars – and they’re doing it in all the right ways.

"Kroenke sucks!" was the chant hailed from the seats of the Scottrade Center on the night NFL owners approved the Rams’ relocation to Los Angeles. As the Blues took on the New Jersey Devils on the surface below, a hunt for sports-related fulfillment from those who inhabit the Gateway to the West was made evident.

At this time, opening day at Busch Stadium was still months away. The only sports team who has brought the city pride in the form of playoff success and championship rings in the past decade, was yet to even assemble at Roger Dean Stadium for spring training.

So this left the Blues: the team that is notorious for tearing through their schedule in the regular season, and promptly erasing hopes of Stanley Cup contention by exiting the playoffs at their first opportunity. But this time, things were going to be a little bit different – or so it seemed. They finished the season in a rather compelling manner, and received home ice advantage in their series with the Chicago Blackhawks for their efforts. After game four, when the team was up 3-1 on the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Blues were on top of the world. They were going to get out of the first round.

But then came the apparent fall. The one that fans of the Blues have come to expect; and the fall that encapsulated what they’d felt in January when the moving trucks were heading in and out of Edward Jones Dome: disappointment. After six games, the series was 3-3, and those guys from The Windy City were going to embarrass the Blues again.

It was borderline tragic, really. The glimmer of hope that glistened off the Gateway Arch was effectively dimmed by Jonathan Toews and company, and a Cardinals’ team that has gotten off to a mediocre start wasn’t there to bail out anyone. The pride of St. Louis was resting in the hands of Ken Hitchcock.

Going into the seventh and final game of round one, anticipation of another postseason collapse ran wild through the Scottrade Center. An opportunity for the Blues to compassionately replace sorrow constructed by the departure of the Rams, and replace it with a dependable figure that says, ‘I’m here for you,’ was ripe for the taking.

It seems ironic, the way that events transpired in Game 7; but necessary, nonetheless. As Troy Brouwer hit the post once, and then fanned on another attempt to knock a puck in the crease to the back of the net and take the lead, time appeared to stand still. Any air that was previously in the lungs of fans wearing blue was quickly removed with a collective, "Ohh!" that rang around the arena. Even as Brouwer’s third attempt was good enough to light the lamp, a bit of uneasiness still remained.

It’s the Blues. They’re going to blow it. This is what they do.

With less than five minutes remaining, Brent Seabrook nearly solidified that stigma, which has hindered the Blues for the better part of their existence. A puck off of his stick that made friends with both posts somehow found its way out of Brian Elliott’s crease, and with it, went the past; the past that says ‘these things just happen to the Blues.’

Termination of this unfortunate identity has brought about the new demeanor of ‘never say die’ that embodies the team, as well as its fans. A Game 7 victory that was stuffed with marquee moments occurred at a time when St. Louis’ sports culture needed it most.

Whatever occurs between now and the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is uncertain. The fact of the matter is, the race to the Finals is wide open. But, perhaps, that’s the most encouraging thing of all.

The power that’s dispersed by somebody or something that is not only capable, but is completely willing, to be the ‘knight in shining armor,’ is something that cannot be overlooked. When the going gets tough, it’s those who refuse to abide by the guidelines set forth by peers that come out on top – and that’s exactly what St. Louis has in Ken Hitchcock. He’s not Jeff Fischer, and he’s not Stan Kroenke. He’s a man who is willing to sever pretense, and instill pride. He’s a man that St. Louis can believe in.

"It’s all about us and our team and our city. That’s all that matters to me." - Ken Hitchcock

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