Today is Friday, June 21st, and the St. Louis Blues are still Stanley Cup champions. It’s crazy to believe that we stopped watching the Blues play hockey just over a week ago, and that tonight is the NHL draft. While we’re still riding the high of St. Louis being champions of the hockey world, we’ve been hearing from a lot of people in the Blues organization about winning it all.
I love hearing the stories from inside the team about what it means to them, so I found another person to talk to. If there is one position that is truly underrated and under-appreciated by most, its the role Tony Patrico holds. He gets a fair share of criticism when songs come on people dislike, but he is a big part of keeping the energy going inside the arena, win or lose. I asked him a couple questions about his role and how he feels about the Blues being Stanley Cup champions. I hope you enjoy.
RR - I covered the St. Charles Chill during their one and only season. You were the in-game arena host that season. Now you spend time in the Enterprise Center entertaining Blues fans. What was that transition like, going from the Central Hockey League to the National Hockey League?
TP - Man, the Chill days were something I will never forget. It was my first experience with professional sports. Unfortunately, the team really never caught the steam we all hoped. I think the largest attended game was around 4500-5000 people. And that’s probably exaggerating. However, it did help me prep for my position with the Blues. The first year with the team, I helped out with in-game hosting duties while we were always planning to transition me to the role I hold now which is in-game DJ/hypeman. In the CHL, the diehard fans were stoked. They were just happy for another option for hockey. But in the NHL, a loyal fan base, they were a little more hesitant to accept me. But now, I feel like I am part of the family. I’ve been a Blues fan my entire life. So it’s an honor to help entertain the fans in the city I grew up in watching a team I idolized forever.
RR - We all know how the single season the Chill had was a disappointment to everyone. Meanwhile, the Blues are coming off their first ever Stanley Cup championship. What are the differences between trying to keep fans entertained when one team is in the basement and the other team just won everything?
TP - When the team is down, you have more pressure. Listen, when the team is up and winning, I could play classical music over the speakers and tell everyone to get loud and it’ll happen. But, when a team is losing or down in the standings, it gets much tougher. Indirectly you feel like you have to come up with the entertainment and the reason that people wanna come to the games. Not talking about the huge hockey fans here. Not the guys and gals who have stood behind the Blues no matter what…I’m talking about the mom who brings her kids to the game. The 31 year old single guy who goes with his “bros.” Those are the people that – when the team is struggling – you really have to focus on. It’s a difficult task but this year, I feel like the entire entertainment team did a really good job of making the games fun and enjoyable even in the dark times.
RR - Last question is a two-parter: the Blues haven’t stopped partying after winning their first ever Cup, and fans around St. Louis still can’t believe this moment has finally happened. Has it truly sunk in for you that the Blues finally did the unthinkable by winning the Cup? Also, how did it feel to lift the Stanley Cup?
TP - To be honest with you, it hasn’t really sunk in. Being a staff member of the team, back in January, it was all doom and gloom. We all had high hopes, but honestly, you have to be a bit realistic too. It would take a storybook ending – which it did – to come back and win this thing. Now that it’s happened, I still can’t believe it. In my lifetime, especially being involved with the team, did I ever think that I would be a part of the championship parade and celebration? But here we are. And lifting the cup was the 4th best thing that’s ever happened to me. Right behind marrying my wife, the birth of my two kids, and then it’s lifting that Cup. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. Ever.
The Blues fans have made my job so much fun this past year. I cannot thank them enough for being so awesome, and I really do appreciate every one of them. Thanks!
RR - I want to give a shout out to Chad Wenger, who was awesome enough to send me a copy of the St. Louis Post Dispatch when the Blues took down the San Jose Sharks in round three as well as a copy of the post when the Blues won the Stanley Cup! They will be framed and I am grateful for your generosity!