It’s hard to argue that the 2018-2019 St. Louis Blues had one of the greatest stories in recent sports memory. Worst to first? That hardly happens. It’s still unfathomable to many of us that a team that frustrated fans so much at the start of the season and through its midpoint could pull off the achievement that they were able to pull off.
It’s incredible to think of. It’s brilliant that their Stanley Cup run happened - it was a much delayed thank you gift to fans who’ve supported for years and alumni that built the team from the bottom up. Honestly, as a Blues fan - and as a sports fan in general - I don’t think that how I felt watching game seven will ever be topped. No Cardinals World Series win has felt so cathartic to me, and whenever the Blues win the Stanley Cup next won’t feel the same.
I think that this video starts off with a good point - expectations coming into this season were crazy high. Between quality off-season trades and signing and a level of expectation that the previous year’s conclusion was a fluke more than anything, most fans and NHL pundits expected the Blues to make the playoffs.
There was an expectation of success there that somehow the team managed to shoot in the foot nearly right off the bat, and continued to shoot in the foot as the season reached the end of January. Many Blues fans were upset that the team wasn’t living up to pre-season hype, but it was the way that they were faltering that was so infuriating and spectacular.
They turned themselves into the underdogs. It wasn’t an organic label bestowed upon them by the composition of their team, or the 8-ball they found themselves behind. That team was stacked with talent and skill. General Manager Doug Armstrong had them pressed right up against the salary cap. This team was not the 2008-2009 Blues.
Can a team that costs that much be considered a true underdog? When a team brings poor outcomes upon themselves, are they scrappy when they fight back, or are they just doing what they should’ve done from the start?
There is no way here that I’m diminishing the achievements of last year’s team. It was a once in a lifetime event to see them claw their way back up the standings, and certainly they weren’t the favorites in the Stanley Cup Final.
Is there a difference, though, between not being favorited and being an underdog?