It was impossible to miss the hair.
During the St. Louis Blues’ thrilling Stanley Cup run last spring, former Blue Scottie Upshall hopped into my Uber for a short ride across downtown. Over the course of maybe eight minutes, about 70 opinions were fired out of Upshall’s mouth among his friends and a lot of laughing occurred. I could tell you what was said, but then again, I’d have to high stick you in the face and leave you down by Laclede’s Landing.
That was Upshall, an energetic player on and off the ice. Listening to his media sessions were hilarious, and he accepted the chirps from teammates about how important his hairdo was to him on any given night. He could get hit with everything on the ice and the famous song “Werewolf in London” exclaimed, “and his hair was perfect!”
He was a solid NHL player, a first round pick who played 759 games over 15 years with six teams. The Blues were the last. By the time he got to St. Louis, Upshall wasn’t the goal scoring threat he once was with Phoenix and even Florida. On Ken Hitchcock’s teams, Upshall formed a lethal fourth line alliance with Kyle Brodziak and Ryan Reaves. They changed what fans should expect out of a fourth line, which is widely known to be about disrupting the other team, creating energy, and giving the more skilled players a rest.
Upshall and company could put the biscuit in the basket though, putting up 25 goals spread out across the three players. Upshall contributed ten of those, but he was more known for his willingness to sacrifice his body on the ice. He’d hit you six different ways and leave with the puck. Upshall was the last man standing most nights and liked it that way. A guy who could have been a model was one of the grittiest hockey players in the league.
He last played two years with the Blues, calling it quits since. There were some rumors earlier this season and last year that he may lace the skates back up, maybe even for the Blues, but those vanquished quick. He officially retired this morning, accepting a job with the hockey network, TSN.
It’s time I focus my attention on the hair and camera!! Wait, that’s always been priority #1!! https://t.co/wLd8BIjuQC— Scottie Upshall (@ScottieUpshall) February 24, 2020
It isn’t like Upshall will be remembered among the great Blues players. His #9 is currently attached to Sammy Blais’ jersey, so there’s no jersey retirement ceremony planned. But he’s no slouch either. Upshall scored 138 goals in his career and added 615 penalty minutes. Body of work is where one can appreciate Upshall’s career. He was a horse for the Blues, doing whatever was needed. Some would say he was a third liner playing on the fourth line, which is accurate and a testament to the depth on those Hitchcock teams.
And he is easily in the top 5 Uber rides of my career driving, which spans over 3,600 rides in 2.5 years. I’ve gotten a handful of athletes in my car, and most are reserved and quiet. Upshall was the opposite. I could have filled three articles with his hot takes and comments. But I’ll just keep it with me.
The casual NHL fans only look at goals scored and points to evaluate the worth of a player. There isn’t an identical stat to MLB’s WAR in the NHL yet, so it’s hard to determine just how much Upshall did. You’ve had to see him play to recognize his impact on the game. He was everywhere at once and scored a few in the process.
He was good on the ice, but is now where many of his teammates would joke that he belongs: In front of the camera.
Enjoy retirement, Scottie.