An open letter to my son, Sheppard, about the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions
By Donut King (@KingDonutI)
Sheppard, you were way too young to remember when the 2018-19 Saint Louis Blues became the first team in franchise history to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. You watched it. You were to turn 21 months old about a week and a half later. You stayed up way past your usual bedtime to do so, and that was Dad’s fault. And you did not particularly enjoy yourself, actually. But you watched it.
One day, you are going to grab a copy of this commemorative issue of St. Louis Game Time. You’re probably going to wonder who the hell Donut King is. But be assured that it’s me, Tyler, your father, writing to you from the past about the most special sports moment that you will never remember but I will tell you about in the best terms possible.
It was a typical late spring day. We lived in the south end of Kansas City. There was some sunshine, it was warm and some rain showers went through. It would turn into a lovely night . . . but that had nothing to do with the weather. That had everything to do with what happened at about 9:40pm CDT that evening.
That was about the exact moment when your father’s favorite sports team—the Saint Louis Blues—won the Stanley Cup for the very first time.
And I want to tell you a few things about this team, because again, you don’t remember it. And you should know about them, because they were special. Oh holy hell, was this team special, son.
THEY WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THERE.
The Blues were at the bottom of the division, conference and league standings in the early part of January. Dad even gave up on this team a few times. The head coach was fired in the middle of the season and his replacement was a cast-off from the Flyers organization. Just about every player on this team had their bad times to start the season. Nothing was going right. And then . . .
THEY CAME TOGETHER AS A TEAM IN 2019.
2018—overall—was a bad time to be a Blues player, coach or fan. Nothing went right in the second half of the 2017-18 season. As a result, that Blues team missed the playoffs by one point. ONE POINT. They started the 2018-19 season—as I said—as a bad team. Two of their players even fought each other—like, an actual honest-to-God on-ice fist-fight—in practice. And then 2019 started, a few lineup changes were made, they called up some kid from the AHL team in San Antonio and . . . holy shit, Sheppard, they just started kicking ass. They played as a team. They even won 11 games in a row at one point. They were amazing. And then . . .
THEY ALMOST WON THE CENTRAL DIVISION TITLE.
Yes, that’s right, son. The team that was in last place on January 3, 2019 almost came all the way back from that depth of shiftiness to win the Central Division. On the last day of the regular season, there were scenarios available for the Blues to end up the top team in the Central Division heading into the postseason. It did not happen; the Blues finished third in the division, but not without a fight. And then the playoffs started . . . and . . .
THEY WERE ABLE TO TAKE THE KNIFE, JAM IT IN TEAMS’ EYES AND INTO THE BRAIN AND KILL THEM.
There is no way to predict the future and tell you that the Blues have a long history of being playoff beasts, son, but I can tell you this: the Blues used to be the team that was always ridiculed for losing early in the postseason and having general ineptitude when they went to the Cup Playoffs. Well, all of that was not the case in 2019. They were 4-1 in the postseason in games where they had a chance to eliminate the other team. That did not HAPPEN for the Blues in previous seasons, son. But the 2019 team was different. They had the killer instinct to take teams out when they were down. They did not let them breathe. And then . . .
THE 2018-19 SAINT LOUIS BLUES WON THE FUCKING STANLEY CUP, SHEPPARD.
And your father—as he wrote this—still was dumbfounded by this. The team that had given your father 38 years or so of heartbreak until then had done what previously did not seem possible. They won the damn Stanley Cup. It was amazing. Like I said, you were a bit upset . . . perhaps groggy because it was past your bedtime and you were waiting for Mom to get home from work—which she did just as the clock hit zeroes. That was when your father—tears streaming down his face, screaming and laughing maniacally—gave your mother a huge hug as she entered the apartment. They had done it. Oh, also . . .
YOU WERE AT THE PARADE.
So was Dad. So was Mom. You had—as Tomorrow’s Blues writer Brian Weidler put it—“100 babysitters” around you as the Blues held a Stanley Cup Parade on Market Street on a rainy, muggy and later sunny Saturday afternoon. Sometimes you enjoyed it. Sometimes you didn’t. We have pictures. But you were there.
But most importantly, Sheppard . . .
YOUR GRANDPA MIKE AND GRANDMA LINDA WOULD HAVE BEEN SO PROUD OF THIS TEAM.
And you should be, too. You, unfortunately, will never get to know your Grandpa Mike and Grandma Linda on this Earth. But son, not only were they wonderful people, they were the ones who attended many a game at the old Saint Louis Arena on Oakland Avenue in the 1970’s, watching the Blues from the cheap seats. They were Cardinals fans first, but they loved the Blues. It was their love of the Blues that was instilled into your Uncle Kyle and your father at a young age. Baseball was a pastime for all of us, but hockey became your father’s passion. Your Grandpa Mike and Grandma Linda had a lot to do with that. And they would have been so damn proud of this Blues team, the way they played and the way they brought the thing they so much wanted for the Blues to have when they were alive . . . the Stanley Cup.
Thanks for reading, Sheppard. I hope you, too, will be a Blues fan for the rest of your life.
LET’S. GO. BLUES.