Two years ago, the Blues did something that no one expected them to: they shattered our reliable collective persona as long suffering Blues fans.
the 2019 Stanley Cup championship wasn’t even on anyone’s radar as a possibility as the disastrous first half of the season kept chugging along. Only towards the end of their improbable run into the playoffs did people start to wonder if the lightning in a bottle that the team caught was strong enough to take them deep. I’m not sure if people thought that they were capable of winning the Cup at that point.
Multiple minor miracles had to come together in the perfect order to get the Blues’ their first team championship, and I don’t think anyone would have it any other way. They were never a team that was given a free pass to greatness; the 2019 Cup champions won because they worked: for themselves, for each other, and for the note on the front of their jersey.
When Brett Hull, St. Louis’ id, screamed “WE WENT BLUES” into the mic at the Stanley Cup parade and celebration the Saturday following the win, fans shook their heads and smiled, and let a new team motto be born. What the hell was he talking about, anyway?
It doesn’t take much thinking for a seasoned fan to figure out what Uncle Brett was shouting about. Going Blues means doing things your way, the improbable way. The Blues don’t do things easily. It took fifty two years and fifty one seasons. It took three trips to the Cup final in their first three years, and a hell of a long layover until they made it back. It took countless hall of famers, contracts and trades that broke our hearts, almost moving to Saskatoon of all places, Mike Keenan, Bill Laurie, teams that were too good to exit in the first round doing exactly that.
Being a Blues fan is hard work, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I can get cantankerous whenever a player or coach says “we did it before, so this team can do it again” whenever the team’s play flags. I don’t want the championship used as a convenient way to wave away poor play or problems. June 12th, 2019 is the most monumental night that the city of St. Louis has seen since David Freese took control of game six of the 2011 World Series. It honestly is one of my favorite nights of my life (granted, I do not do much).
The championship is proof that this team can win.
This team is not the same one that won the 2019 Stanley Cup, though. It’s lost Jay Bouwmeester and Alexander Steen to health problems and injury. It’s traded away Jake Allen and Joel Edmundson. It lost Alex Pietrangelo to free agency. It’s short some of the individual identities that made up that team. It’s also retained a lot of that team’s heart.
It might take another 52 years. It might be right around the corner. No one expected the Blues to win in 2019. No one will probably expect the Blues to win the Cup the next time that they do, either. That’s the beauty of this franchise. They know hard work is rewarded. They just don’t know when.
That hard work isn’t just the work that’s put in for that season. It’s decades of building relationships with the fans, with the city, with community organizations and charities. It’s knowing and loving the founding fathers of your team, and appreciating what they mean while they’re here - and the outpouring of grief when they’re gone. It’s about the special bond the Blues’ Alumni have regardless of if they’ve played for other franchises or won a Stanley Cup elsewhere. It’s about seeing former active players being happy for the team’s successes despite being firmly entrenched contributors to their own Cup run.
Calling a sports team a family is such a cliche that I won’t do that here. It’s hard to find a word to describe the Blues, but they’re a group that have been bonded by decades of working toward an ultimate goal. Now they’re bonded by the experience of achieving that goal.
They always knew what it took to win, they just took their time doing it. No one knows if they’ll take their time doing it again, but rest assured, no one in the fanbase ever has to worry about if the Blues can go Blues again. It’s just a matter of when.