The first week of the season, way back in October, I had misgivings about the Blues. The losses didn’t trigger this. It was how they looked while they were losing that I had a problem with. Something didn’t feel right.
Over thirty years of Blues fandom has prepared me for what to expect when something doesn’t look quite right with the team. As the first half of the season progressed, I looked at stats and standings. I got frustrated with the team standing status quo with Craig Berube after they canned Mike Yeo. I didn’t want a fire sale at the trade deadline and the idea of trading Vladimir Tarasenko made my stomach sink, but I still understand where Doug Armstrong was coming from.
Come the start of January, I was in full-on “wait till next year” mode. I think that most of you were. It’s fine to admit it; the past and fancy stats and your Magic 8-Ball weren’t pointing in any other direction save for a high draft pick. Then, against the Anaheim Ducks in late January, it felt like something changed. Right before the All-Star break, they began playing more cohesively. They started playing for each other.
And they started to win.
They hung out together in Jacks NYB to watch the Eagles in the playoffs before their game on January 6th, and on January 7th Jordan Binnington got a shutout of the Flyers. They returned home to St. Louis with a new locker room song - Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” - and a new lease on the season. Come January 23rd they had begun an eleven game winning streak that would set them up for the second-best record after the ASG only to the Presidents Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning.
The season turned around.
Suddenly, sarcastic tweets of “plan the parade” changed into tweets wondering what the route would be. The St. Louis metro area has always supported the Blues, win or lose, but now signs reading “Let’s Go Blues” stayed up past the last game of the season.
And they stayed up through April. And through May. And into June.
Here we sit on June 9th, and the Blues could win the Stanley Cup tonight. FIfty-two years of frustration, of heartbreak, of close only counting in horseshoes and hand grenades can all end tonight.
I’m not going to go on a spiel of how this city needs a win, because other authors have done it and done it better than I ever could.
I will bring up, though, that we have all been waiting for this our whole lives. Some of us are older than others, and some are even older still. People who have owned season tickets since the team played in the Arena, since season one, are finally being rewarded for their patience by the greatest run in team history. Kids like I used to be - who collected hockey cards, who had every one of Brett Hull’s stats memorized, who wanted to be CuJo during PE floor hockey - those kids are still out there. They’re older now, and look up to Vladimir Tarasenko and Jordan Binnington, but those kids are still here, looking toward their heroes in blue. God willing, they’ll be able to grow up past tonight not having to wait for a someday like the rest of us had to.
When I moved away from St. Louis - not by choice - in 1992, my grandmother sent me news clippings from the Post-Dispatch about the Blues. Not all of them were good news, of course, but I still consumed every one. She got Brett Hull and the rest of the 1992-1993 team’s autographs for me on a schedule, and it’s framed on a shelf in my office. I still have the last Blues thing that I bought before I moved away - a puck with the trumpet logo on it - in a display case. For years it sat in my classroom, but this summer I brought it home to sit on my shelves full of Blues and Thrashers memorabilia.
The team that I adopted in Atlanta left, and went on to be the Winnipeg Jets. It’s only right that they were the first team that the Blues eliminated on this journey to being one win away from the Stanley Cup. I, like many of you, have waited our entire lives. We’ve lost people who also waited their entire lives, and I’m sure they’re having a hell of a time watching from the best seats in the house.
This has been a special season for me, for all of you, and for the Blues. Tonight is the last game in St. Louis for the year, and I just want to thank all of you out there for reading Game Time the site, the paper, the Twitter, and everything in-between. Y’all are a wonderful group of people who deserve something to celebrate tonight.
The Stanley Cup is in the house and so are the 3-0 in game six St. Louis Blues.
You do the math.