Welcome to the refreshed St. Louis Game Time! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
It’s almost like the goaltender knew it was coming, and he still couldn’t stop it. Brett Hull on the dot was sex on fire on a hockey rink. He’d spin his body around into position, awaiting the deadly one timer coming his way. Fans could hear the fuse being lit from the highest seat in the house, like a chill of Hull’s stick bringing aide to your bloody nose. Down to a knee and the biscuit was fired into the unsafe tree house behind the goalie’s back. He couldn’t stop it, and I was hooked at a young age by the Golden Brett.
In case you haven’t noticed, being a St. Louis Blues fan isn’t an easy chore. It’s like being a fan of the cool horse at the racetrack that won’t win shit, but damn will he place in the top six every year. You buy the ticket, sit in your seat, knowing full well what is going to happen. Kind of that weary goaltender without enough padding to stop a missile. I haven’t written about the Blues since they lost to the Nashville Predators in (big surprise non drum roll required) SIX games. I needed a break, a bottle, and a bar to bury my thoughts on another season flushed down the drains.
So, why not write about why I became a fan of this team in the first place? Instead of rolling over the 2016-17 team’s positives and negatives like a commentary garbage disposal, let’s run back to the origin of my hockey love, because it really did start with Hull and that one timer.
Whenever I watch current stud Vladimir Tarasenko skate around hockey players on the ice like a stunt car whipping past traffic cones on a Warner Brothers lot, I think of Hull in 1989, floating down the ice unguarded and set to launch. There’s nothing more beautiful than a perfectly executed one timer in the game of hockey. The flawless hip check is sweet music to my eyeballs; the sprawled out glove save by a goaltender is magical; the saucer pass from the blue line to the front of the net is nasty. The one timer can’t be beat.
And I’m not talking about any one timer. I don’t take the passes the ride in too close on a player’s stance and stick to where it looks like a guy pulling a receipt out of his pocket and throwing it on net. I am talking about the slow transfer of a puck from one stick to another without any clear stop. Adam Oates and Hull could do that with ease, and that is why their breakup was harder to swallow than any St. Louis dream team in the history of Midwest sports romance athletics.
Hull came to the Blues during the 1987-88 season from Calgary, and he scored six goals in 13 games to show fans what they could expect for the next decade. He netted 41 goals the following season, but didn’t enter holy shit mode until the 1989-90 season. Hull scored 72 goals and 27 of them came on the power play. The next year, Hull’s encore was 86 goals, with 70 in 1991-92. Over the course of that three year period, Hull scored 228 goals and fired 1,082 shots on net.
The unfortunate part during that 1991-92 season is Oates was traded to Boston, and Hull never scored more than 55 goals in a season again. In example #2,160 that good things simply can’t last, the Hull-Oates partnership of Let The Good Times Roll was shut down.
What people don’t understand about the one timer and what makes it so hard to stop is the wicked timing of it. How a player can release it so fast that the goaltender can’t even attempt to react. Hull was a fucking Jedi at it, and his 527 goals in St. Louis placed a patent on how stars were born in this town.
He’s the reason I got invested so heavily in the game of hockey, and wanted to know how the other parts worked. I wanted to know how Hull executed goal scoring so well, and why other teams couldn’t stop him. Sometimes, a single player can suck you into a sport and create a lifelong passion. It’s the same reason my favorite non-Blues player is Alexander Ovechkin and why I defend and get a kick out of Tarasenko. They shoot a ton, score a lot, and are revered for their ability to put the puck in the net. Goaltenders prepare for them all week, and only resist their arms being raised at times due to superior defense and failure of a team carrying a center worthy of their talents.
Brett Hull was unstoppable for nearly a decade, scoring 40 or more goals in eight of nine seasons, and then he went to Dallas and Detroit to hoist Stanley Cups.
Right there is the source code of my Blues fandom: my favorite player creating a legend here, but going somewhere else to realize the ultimate dream. Hull won individual awards in St. Louis, but never won the ultimate trophy. That happened elsewhere. Hull got me into Blues hockey, and left before he could hand a fan the grand prize. Everybody since has also failed.
Being a fan of a sports team includes accepting doom 95 percent of the time, and hoping the other five percent reveals something greater. The Blues have given fans 50 seasons of excitement, but ultimate disappointment. No matter how pissed off a man or woman can get at this team, when October rolls around, we will be there, watching and waiting.
Studs like Hull come and go, planting a seed of incredible ability in their wake. But the real fans are the ones who stick around and keep their eyes open at the possibility of something great happening. The team gets close, fans taste the idea, and then it ends. Hull opened the door, and I chose to stay.
It’s May 25, and other teams are playing hockey. That sucks in its own way, but thanks to Brett Hull’s golden stick of destiny, I will be at the television this winter wondering if the new season is THE season.
Thanks for reading and buy more bourbon.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. SB Nation Why Are You a Fan Reader Sweepstakes starts on 8:00am ET on May 25, 2017 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 8, 2017. Open only to eligible legal residents of the United States, 18 years or older. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, odds of winning, alternative method of entry, prize details and restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Vox Media, Inc.