The NHL released the 2018-19 schedule on Thursday evening, and enterprising Blues fans quickly set to work dissecting it for road trip potential. Following the team on the road can be an excellent way to see new cities, drink in new places, and surprise yourself by how nice everyone else’s building is.
Some trips, however, are more reasonable than others. Who wouldn’t enjoy going to Miami and Tampa in February, for example? As fun as that would be, it’s a little outside a reasonable driving range. Instead, this highly scientific list will focus on those trips which are a little easier on the transit.
Also, I removed the Vegas trip from consideration because...Vegas. That’s a whole other thing.
5. Blues @ Columbus; Saturday, February 2nd
I’ve long been a proponent of Columbus as a hockey destination. The rink is comfortable and modern, the tickets are affordable, and downtown Columbus has a number of convenient nightlife spots in the arena district. Columbus might be a travel stretch for some people, but it’s only an eight hour drive from St. Louis. Take trip with friends. Drive Saturday morning, go to the game, drive home after brunch.
4. Blues @ Washington, Blues @ New York Islanders, Blues @ Boston; Monday, January 14th-Thursday, January 17th
This would be ranked higher on the list if it wasn’t technically cheating. Washington is certainly a drivable trip; I’ve done it solo half a dozen times. Adding the Brooklyn and Boston stops in the middle of the week, however, makes it more challenging.
I am, however, a well known mark for the District of Columbia. Fly out over the weekend - you can get a direct to Reagan on Southwest - and see the sights. Take the train up from DC to New York and from New York to Boston. It’s a great way to see the east coast and your last chance to see the ridiculous Honda Pilot parked inside the Barclays Center before the Islanders bail out at the end of the year.
3. Blues @ Toronto, Saturday, October 20th
Toronto is a pretty good haul; a 12 hour drive where an hour is lost to time zones. Make sure you bring your passport and prepare for vengeful Canadians at the border. It’s also the hockey capital of the known universe, and a trip to the Air Canada Centre is one that I recommend strongly.
Split the drive between Friday and Saturday. Get to Toronto early enough on Saturday to spend two or three hours going through the Hockey Hall of Fame (don’t touch The Cup) and then go to the game. Wake up early on Sunday, snatch a peameal bacon sandwich, and make the long drive back. You’ll be dead at work on Monday morning, but it’ll be worth it.
2. Blues vs. Nashville, Blues @ Nashville - Saturday, February 9th-Sunday February 10th
Are you a marathon drinker? Then this is the trip for you. These two games are both matinees - 1 PM in St. Louis on Saturday, 11:30 AM in Nashville on Sunday. You could wake up for mimosa brunch on Saturday, go to the game, drive down to Nashville afterward, and party straight through until Sunday’s early NBC start.
If you time this correctly, you might not even need a hotel room. Just push yourself to rock out on Broadway until the sun comes up, find some pancakes to soak up the alcohol, and get back after it for a set of rivalry games. The drive back on Sunday night might be brutal, but you’ll certainly have things to talk about.
1. Blues @ Chicago, Saturday, October 13th
The Blues haven’t played a Saturday night game in Chicago since April 23rd, 2016. That was game six of the first round of the playoffs. The last regular season Saturday night home game? October 21st, 2006. Mike Kitchen was the coach. Dallas Drake was the captain. It’s been a while.
I’m told that there’s nothing that matches the intensity of a Saturday night Blues/Blackhawks game in Chicago, but I wouldn’t really know. The last time one was played, I was less than four months removed from turning 19. But I know Chicago’s an easy trip. Hell, take the Amtrak! They’re a huge rival. It’s a great city. And that’s an excellent trip.