A year ago, the St. Louis Blues were Stanley Cup Champions.
You remember the date. June 12-13, 2019. It was the last time you’d stayed up all night due to sports euphoria. The Blues also stayed up all night. They were already back in St. Louis with the Cup, drinking everything in sight. Bud Lights and Budweisers were dropping like flies, and players’ shirts were soaked in champagne, beer, and sweat.
That Stanley Cup meant so many things to so many people. You could argue the same thing for every sports championship, but this one was different. Sorry if I come off as being a subjective Blues lifer, but this championship was 50+ years in the making. The first one. It’s a pretty rare thing so when the final seconds ticked off and the Blues won Game 7 by the score of 4-1, something went off in St. Louis.
Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends were stuck in a surreal moment. You could fill the Mississippi River with the tears. The tough guys cried it out. The softies didn’t hesitate. It’s the kind of moment where you don’t think about crying.
I watched it at home with my son. With the wife out of town, it was the two of us hanging out in South City watching history unfold. He didn’t completely get it, but the kid was close enough to the excitement to understand why his dad sounded like Bill Burr during hockey games for the past seven years. Why so serious, dad? 50 fucking years, little dude!
A year ago, St. Louis was united by hockey. A mutual love and adoration of a team that had too much fight and not enough bite for too long. A few days later, the city filled downtown up to the brim with blue shirts, face paint, and beer. Players walked down Market Street shaking hands, hugging strangers, and riding small motorcycles down the street. They were drunk and happy. Not as drunk and happy as Brett Hull, but that’s a hard mountain to climb.
It looks a lot different today. The world is fractured in many places. Due to Covid-19 and the murder of George Floyd, our country is more disbanded than ever and things are ugly. Injustice only breeds more violence, which has led to hundreds of moments humanity would like back. The world didn’t just stop turning; the clock basically snapped in half. How do we get back there? I don’t know. There isn’t a solo road map for all of us to use. There will be many roads to recovery, some taking years instead of weeks.
Playoff hockey sure could help. Many weeks ago, I talked about how it wasn’t a good idea-because of the lack of progress, true plan, and the late start. I changed my mind a few weeks afterwards, inviting the sport back into the mindset of 2020 without rolling my eyes. I think it’s possible and happening. The playoff format will be different, in both feel and look. Fans will watch from bars, restaurants, or their homes. Players can acknowledge a fan-less arena will not be in the same when fighting for Lord Stanley’s summer housing.
But then again, nothing will ever look the same. Social distancing is a real thing and sports will have to adapt in the near future at the very least. Any public event will look jagged and odd for the next year or so. Get used to it.
I just want St. Louis to stand united again. I want the world to stand as one again. Sports have a way of making that happen. They have a way of eliminating the differences between us and finding common ground for us to stand together on. It’s like a healthy drug that everybody can take at the same time, lasting 3-4 hours, depending on the result. Sports take away the ugly or at least mask it for a few hours. I don’t know, but they do. When we lose loved ones or witness injustice, our eyes need a savior. Since individually, we can’t make the change happen in an instant, we turn to sports while we figure it out.
Maybe my head should be elsewhere. I’ve heard that line many times in the past few weeks. Stop thinking about movies or sports, Dan. No thanks. I’d rather numb my pain right now. Find an outlet to give my energy to while voting and make my imprint count at the right time. It’s summer and there’s no sports. That’s just not right. The world looks better with sports going on. Hockey is the closest to fixing that.
Training camps have a date to open. A schedule is in place. Locations and health tactics are being formed. Egos were put aside a long time ago for the sake of games played and the fans. I’ve grown to appreciate hockey even more while respecting other sports (sport?) even less (hint: a guy named Rob is a boss).
The Blues won it all a year ago. OB Clark’s wasn’t the place of legends just yet, but it was slowly becoming the landing spot for fans and players. While I stood outside trying to get inside, cars drove by and honked. Happy honks. People were happy. St. Louis was united by a single sport. A love for a team.
Let’s get back there again. It’s a start. A beginning path back to some kind of normal.