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I’m Sorry for Loving the 90s

The Clown Suits Were Part of Childhood — and What a Childhood It Was for Us ‘90s Kids

This story first appeared on Page 5 (The Five Hole) of the Nov. 21, 2019 edition of the St. Louis Game Time paper, sold outside of every Blues home game. For more information or to subscribe, email gtbradlee@gmail.com

Tonight is for people like me. (Actually, tonight is a marketing ploy to sell merchandise, conveniently disguised as a tug at nostalgic heartstrings, but it’s a damn good marketing ploy and I can’t resist nostalgia, so let’s go along with it.) Tonight is for us ‘90s kids, and if you’re not one of us, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you didn’t have the Do-do-do of “…Baby One More Time” echoing through your childhood, and I’m sorry you didn’t get turned on by Britney Spears or Nick Carter before you even knew what it meant to be turned on. I’m also sorry you weren’t growing up when the world’s most popular movie featured a few seconds of a naked Kate Winslet.

I’m sorry Eminem got you triggered, and I’m sorry you didn’t have Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter to get you through the tough times. I’m sorry you didn’t have Princess Diana’s death to show you how cruel the world is. I’m sorry you didn’t have Matt Christopher’s “The Hockey Machine” to foreshadow the Mike Danton scandal, and I’m sorry you pretended an extramarital blowjob in the White House was a scandal at all. It feels so quaint nowadays, eh?

I’m sorry that I’m not sorry for memorizing every word of “AllStar” and for playing “Goldeneye” on N64. I’m sorry you didn’t idolize Mark McGwire in the way only a kid can, and I’m sorry you therefore struggle to overlook his PED use and realize that he wasn’t just bigger than baseball. He was baseball, and in a way, always will be for us. I’m sorry, in short, that the ‘90s dared to be crazy and colorful and cartoonish, and that we 90s kids dared to soak it all up for the brief time it was there.

Five thoughts while the brain gets smart but the head gets dumb.

1. These jerseys are a big part of hockey history. The Great One only debuted for a new team four times in his NHL career. In one of those debuts, sure enough, he was wearing a trumpet-crested Clown Suit. It was Leap Day, 1996 in Vancouver — and he scored a goal.

The last playoff game ever in Maple Leaf Gardens was Game 5 between the Blues and the Leafs in the first round in 1996. Mike Gartner, maybe the most underrated goal scorer in NHL history (he scored 708, if you can believe it, sixth on the all-time list) got the OT winner. You bet the Blues were wearing the Clown Suits.

Chris Pronger was wearing a Clown Suit when he shoved Nick Kypreos, who then launched himself — in the opposite direction of the shove — onto Grant Fuhr.

Pronger was wearing one, too, in May of 1998 when he took a slapshot to the chest that momentarily stopped his heart.

Until San Jose’s last year against Vegas, maybe the greatest playoff comeback of all time took place with the Clown Suits on. Geoff Courtnall ran over Jamie Storr (who, yeah, tried to sell it) in the first round in 1998. The Blues were trailing 3-0 in the third period, but got a five-minute power play out of the ensuing scrum. They scored four times to win the game, hahaha (Hi, 1998 Darren Pang!)

And If you look closely at Jon Casey’s right shoulder as Steve Yzerman’s rocket flies past it, you’ll see a trumpet. Like it or not, it’s one of the 10 or so most iconic goals in hockey history. (The Blues won the Cup; we can watch this now without needing intensive psychotherapy.)

2. It was pretty damn refreshing to see the Blues play that well against a good team. For all of Tampa’s struggles, they’re still top-10 in percentage of expected goals for … and the Blues straight-up kicked their asses on Tuesday. All things considered, it was their second-best performance of the season, behind only the win over Colorado on Oct. 21.

3. What if Oskar Sundqvist keeps shooting like this? Most of us thought his shooting percentage of 12.4 last year was an aberration, but here we are, 22 games into the season, and he’s shooting 12.1 percent so far. The possession and scoring-chance numbers don’t back it up, but right now, he looks dangerous on every shift.

4. I wrote on Saturday night that Jordan Binnington was nails on breakaways. What does he do? Give one up to Derek Grant of all people. Well, folks, Binner redeemed himself with a breakaway save on Tuesday, AND a save on the rebound. Again I’m right in my analysis.

5. About midway through the first on Tuesday, Tyler Bozak tried to saucer a pass from the right half-boards to Jaden Schwartz in front of the net.

It felt strangely familiar, almost as if we’d seen that before somewhere. Very weird. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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If you enjoyed this story — and even if you didn’t — you should check out my book, Ticketless: How Sneaking Into The Super Bowl And Everything Else (Almost) Held My Life Together.