If you came of age following Blues hockey in the 1990s, your earliest memories are likely speckled with diagonal stripes, “OH BABY”s, and a collection of players who peaked in Edmonton, Chicago, New York, or almost anywhere except St. Louis.
When the Blues hired Mike Keenan in 1994, he was fresh off winning a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers. The thinking went, of course, that he could export that success to St. Louis and supplement the Brett Hull/Brendan Shanahan/Curtis Joseph core with his own brand of grit and skill.
Shanahan lasted a year under Keenan. So did Joseph. Half a year, really, when you consider that the 1994-95 season was shortened to 48 games by the first of Gary Bettman’s three (!!!) work stoppages (so far [!!!]).
I didn’t drink or smoke pot in high school. Really. Not at all. Not once. But I played hockey, and my teammates and I would hang out, play Xbox, and laugh ourselves stupid thinking about the players who were on the hockey cards we were purchasing ten years prior.
As Blues fans sit and wait with baited breath for Colton Parayko to put pen to paper, I thought it would be fun to break down my favorite weird, random Blues of the 1990s. Without further adieu, my top five:
5. Rob Pearson
Pearson was traded to the Blues in 1996 in exchange for Denis Chasse, who would slot comfortably into an Honorable Mention position on this list. He racked up 7 goals and 13 points in 45 career games for the Blues before inauspiciously departing for a minor league free agent deal.
His 45 games in St. Louis were the last of his NHL career, and he was out of the league before he turned 26. He did score 23 goals as a 21 year old for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1992-93, so you can be sure that there’s a Torontonian somewhere who still thinks it was a mistake to let him go.
4. Charlie Huddy
Before Rich Pilon truly lived up to his name, there was Charlie Huddy. I don’t really know what a “huddy” is, but it does sound like the noise a 36 year old defenseman would make as Sergei Fedorov flies around him. In Huddy’s defense, he had some truly great years in Edmonton as Paul Coffey’s partner. He won a literal fistful of Cup rings for the Oilers before stopovers in LA and Buffalo on his way to St. Louis.
He was traded to the Blues with a draft pick that eventually became future HOFer Daniel Corso and ended up playing only 15 regular season and 3 playoff games in the Note. One of those playoff games was a game seven against Detroit in 1996 that went to double overtime tied at zero and then bizarrely ended without a result.
3. Libor Zabransky
This pick is here solely because it’s one of my favorite hockey names ever. It’s just fun to say. Take the time right now to bellow it as Ken Wilson would have. Leeeeeeeebor Zuhbraaaaaansky.
Unfortunately, he only got to bellow it once, as Zabransky scored one goal in his 40 career NHL games, all for the Blues. He bolted back to the Czech Republic after being assigned to Worcester in 1998-99, since everyone knows that living in a rebuilding Soviet satellite state after the fall of the wall is still better than living in almost anywhere in Massachusetts.
2. Konstantin Shafranov
Some stars shine too brightly to stay lit for long. When Keith McDonald was called up to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000, he hit three home runs in nine plate appearances. He never had another hit in MLB, but for about six minutes, he was the greatest baseball player I had ever seen. Shafranov was the same way.
I was a fanatical NHL 96 player on my Sega Genesis, and for a large part of the fall of 1996, I coped with my Gretzky loss angst by assembling a top line for the Blues of Gretzky, Hull, and Shafranov. He scored two goals in five games with the Blues in October of 1996 and then disappeared forever. His time with the Blues was so brief, in fact, that a picture of him in uniform does not appear to exist on the internet. But it happened!
He bounced back and forth between North America and Russia for years, playing his last professional season in 2009-10 with the Fort Wayne Comets at the age of 41. He recorded 57 points in 58 IHL games that season before racking up 4 assists in 6 games at the World Championships for Kazakhstan. Very nice.
1. Adam Creighton
Could it be anyone else? Late last year, I discovered an eBay seller who had bootleg-ish versions of the infamous trumpet third jersey for sale. Upon purchasing one, because duh, I had little hesitation about whose name and number would adorn it. Adam Creighton was my choice, and the gentleman working behind the counter at the True Blues shop at Scottrade Center cackled endlessly when I explained what I wanted.
Creighton was a true Keenan throwback, having played for him in Chicago between 1988 and 1992. He was a behemoth of a man, standing 6’5” and weighing in at 220 pounds, and he skated like he was at least four times that size. Not in terms of stride length, of course. Our boy moved about as quickly as the jumbotron.
Creighton scored 25 goals and recorded 30 assists in 109 games for the Blues before returning to the Blackhawks as a free agent in 1996. Though his stay here was short, it remains memorialized forever in my closet. Legends never die.