While the Blues remain Stanley Cup Champions for another 48 hours, I wanted to follow Laura’s lead, and provide you with my favorite Stanley Cup memory from the spring of 2019.
A time that can’t be taken away from St. Louis sports fans who can no longer get into The Enterprise Center to watch a live game, at least for the foreseeable future. A place that hosted away games during the playoffs for Blues faithful is now awaiting its next hockey game, like a kid waiting for the door to open on Halloween.
What I remember about last year can be put into a book. Meeting Jon Hamm and finding out we could be related in a Brentwood bar I had been going to for 20 years. There was the post-Game 7 Cup celebration all over town. The endless articles I wrote with that whisper in my ear wondering if this was going to be it. All of it rings a bell, but nothing hits as hard as game nights with my dad and brother.
A little backstory. Before the spring of 2019, I hadn’t watched a sporting even with these two men in a long time, too long to properly pinpoint. There are alternative factors involved, but let’s just say that life can seem to hit you hardest when you’re least expecting it. Sometimes, those hits can come in the form of a schizophrenia diagnosis that cripples a relationship with your only sibling. Imagine seeing a relationship that you built up over nearly 20 years taken away by something you can’t even see. But sports can eradicate that mess, making things seem clearer and easier to understand.
My brother and I were hockey addicts at a teenage age, watching Mike Modano and his Dallas Stars collide with Brett Hull’s Blues. This time, it was Jamie Benn against Vladimir Tarasenko, or in the end, Pat Maroon pushing an orphaned Robert Thomas shot attempt over the red line and pushing the Blues further on down the line. Every game night took place in my dad’s man cave, a converted garage with everything you’d need for a game.
Bryan barely moved during games, like a grenade with the pin hanging on rolling around an uneven table. When the Blues scored, though, he would exclaim, “Yes!” But the exclamation point was a soft caliber, almost as if he was trying not to upset the hockey gods. My dad had everything to say about the game, including the need for the Blues to resemble zombies in the first period. For the simple fact that Alex Pietrangelo couldn’t execute an outlet pass in Game 3 or 4, my dad will never him off the hook. He was new to hockey, sucked into the allure of a championship.
We all were, diehard fan or just casual observer of a game. I’ll never forget sitting there with a quiet man and another very loud man, bourbon and beer flowing through our veins with cigar smoke surrounding the room in a haze of probability. For a few weeks and tons of hockey, all the troubles life had thrown at us drifted away, like a thunderstorm choosing another town. I didn’t care if the Blues won or not, because I was watching hockey with my brother and dad.
There are some things 2020 can’t take away. For the Blues and their passionate fans, that was the spring of 2019. That moment when St. Louis became the mecca of NHL Hockey adoration.
For me, the best memory is that couch in the man cave. Those are the times I remember most decades from now. Bryan, my dad, and I just sitting there watching the game. So simple.
Thanks for reading.