Good morning, Blues fans. While you a break from binge-watching Leaving Las Vegas and switch from bourbon to Bloody Marys on this bright-eyed morning, let’s review what happened over the weekend in the land of hockey.
The Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the Western Conference Finals, adding another page to their wondrous debut season while the Washington Capitals moved a win closer to ousting Sidney Crosby and the Penguins from contention. Really, the Vegas news is the most prominent for a number of reasons, which I will cover here in semi-serious fashion.
It’s painful to realize and even harder when you compare it to other Cup-less hockey clubs, but I’ll do the adult thing and try to figure out this means.
5) Congrats to Ryan Reaves and David Perron. They soldiered through a combined 841 games for St. Louis and got a single conference finals trip, so good for them in finding a place that didn’t house broken heart rituals. Reaves offered ten minutes on Sunday night, laying out eight hits and blocking a shot. It’s hard not to root for him and the Frenchman.
4) Seeing Vegas triumph over the San Jose Sharks, a team notorious for sending the Blues packing, wasn’t pleasing. It’s like seeing the other kid at school throw the bully in the trash can after you got your ass kicked.
3) Good for Vegas fans. We are witnessing history, and while it’s the bittersweet kind for Blues fans and other cities, it’s hard to hate it. Cinderella stories enliven not only the sport, but the world of competition on every level. Blake Apgar of the Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted a fan saying on Sunday afternoon that he was on the verge of tears due to the elation of this incredible run. Think about it. You love hockey and live in Las Vegas, where there has never been NHL hockey. Finally, a team comes to your city and during the first year, it’s playing for a chance at a championship. It’s overwhelming really. Just fucking great...
Stand by while I plow through the final third of my Bloody Mary with an extra shot of vodka.
2) Doug Armstrong connection. So young Blake Armstrong, the son of Doug, spent a huge chunk of his final year in college as a scout for the Knights. In a way, he helped construct the roster. A phone call to Doug probably occurred. Armstrong could have told younger Army to revive Geoff Courtnall’s career or recruit Garth Butcher for captaincy of the team, but he most likely did not advise such. It’s hard to disregard the Armstrong effect here. Blake is now taking on law school, but he played a part here.
(switches back to whiskey)
1) Here’s the thing. This is good for the NHL. The Knights success will only bring more eyes to the sport. Millions of people flock to the desert for gambling and escapism in a year, so they will find out about the Knights and their winning. While it pains me to say this, watching Vegas players hoist a Cup will truly bolster the league. Maybe the NHL can get back on ESPN and revive the timeless voice of Gary Thorne. Perhaps another network brings back weekly hockey games that don’t solely exist on NBC Sports.
An out-of-nowhere breakthrough by Vegas is good for hockey, plain and simple. It gets more eyes, ears, and noses pointed at his amazing sport that doesn’t get enough attention due no matter how much the rulemakers change it. The game has shed physicality from its playbook in efforts to
be more safe make it more reasonable for newcomers to come back to the sport. A Vegas triumph will help.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to see the Blues sitting at home watching teams like Washington, Vegas, and Tampa Bay move on to big things. It nails home a reality of how far St. Louis is from being a serious Cup contender, so we look to other teams to keep the energy alive before next month brings the month long gloom of no hockey activity.
I’m 36 year sold and have no idea when the Blues will win a Stanley Cup. Will it be before my 40th? Nope. 50th? Possibly. Will Patrik Berglund have gray hair when he dons the jersey for the last time? Will he gray up like Alexander Ovechkin inside a year suddenly and hang them up as a Blue? There isn’t enough alcohol to consider that.
For now, I’ll root for Reaves and Vegas fans. Love or hate it, their team is helping the sport of hockey.
Thanks for reading.