It wasn’t until this year, that I got to experience the best part of being a Blues fan in an opposing team’s rink. I’m the proud father of two kids, Nate (7) and Jade (4). I was able to bring them to a Senator’s game and get there early enough to watch the Blues warm up. As we stood against the glass watching in awe of their size and speed, Vladimir Tarasenko knocked on the glass, pointed at my son and threw me a puck for him. Nate was extremely excited that the guy who is on his jersey gave him a puck and the smile could not be wiped off his face for the night. He quickly has become a fan just as I did so many years ago. It was a priceless moment for me.
When the opportunity came to write about the St. Louis Blues and the NHL, I had to jump on it. I’m a loyal follower, for 26 years now I would say. I’ve seen many playoff let downs, seen so many talented players come and go, and last year thinking maybe THIS is the year after the epic seven game series win over the Chicago Blackhawks. As the 50th year of the team is going strong after three playoff games, I jump and yell just as loud now as I did when I was 13 when the Blues score.
I grew up in small town Northern Ontario, Canada where everyone was either a Leaf fan or a Habs fan. It was time for me to branch out and find my own team, and right in his scoring hay day was Brett Hull playing for the St. Louis Blues. They had some pretty amazing players during that time: Brett Hull, Adam Oates, Rod Brind’Amour, Curtis Joseph…the list goes on. The jersey was pretty nice, had good colours, and as I peeked into the standings they weren’t last (very different from being a Leaf fan). Seemed like a great fit.
I had the opportunity to meet Brett Hull at a Midas autograph signing in the early ’90s. I don’t really understand how a star of his magnitude ends up in Sudbury, Ontario but I was grateful that my parents were able to borrow the neighbour’s car as ours was in the shop to get me there to meet him. To this day, I still have that Midas poster and VHS tape that he autographed.
To give you perspective, it was a 4 hour drive to the closest NHL arena in Toronto. The same problems existed then as they do now, ticket prices were still very expensive and hard to come by. Without fail, my Dad was always able to secure tickets to one game a year where I could see the Blues play. I remember very fondly one year, getting pre-game skate passes thanks to Joe Bowen, a long time friend of my Dad. We attended the skate only to have two rookies show up that day. The year was 1996, not only was it an optional skate, Brett Hull, Wayne Gretzky, Al MacInnis, Grant Fuhr were all hurt and didn’t make the trip. The Blues won that game, but the chance to see Wayne Gretzky in a Blues uniform was missed. I have so many memories of games in the past that have shaped the huge Blues fan I am today.
So with that background, I look forward to the opportunity to write about a team that I grew up watching from afar. It is my goal to one day get to St.Louis to see a game live, and now a goal to have my kids there with me to enjoy it just as much as I will. But for now we will cheer the Blue Note with the growing number of Canadian fans north of the border.