PLAY GLORIA…just after this highlight package. Because holy fuck…the Blues won the Stanley Cup for the first fucking time in my lifetime!!!
Ok. For the last 15 hours or so, I’ve been in and out of sleep and reveling in my favorite team of all the teams I root for winning their first championship in team history. They did so against the Boston Bruins, whom represented the city that triumphed over St. Louis three times in my lifetime when competing in title games / series’. I was at Lehigh University for two of those moments in time – the ’01 Super Bowl and the ’04 World Series. New England kids attend that college, if you didn’t know. It wasn’t pleasant. The 2013 World Series was far removed from ya boy being heckled by a stream of Massholes as I was living in LA, but it was spearheaded by David Ortiz in gruesome fashion (we’ll get back to Big Papi later in this blog). The Cardinals losses don’t stay with me at all – they won titles in 2006 + 2011 to alleviate that pain. The Rams game hurt a lot…but it to has lust it’s edge due to Stan Kroenke being a sniveling turd + the Patriots beating the shit out of everyone (except Eli Manning, of course). I don’t think I’d be blogging anytime soon had the Bruins won last night, friends. That pain would’ve transitioned to suffering quickly, as my life as a Blues fan was littered with heartache. I can’t even say heartbreak, because they never were in position to truly sever my aortas. Let’s go to my fan history with the Blues first to gain appropriate context, rail riders.
Part One: Irrelevance & Failure Of The Worst Kind
I was born in 1982. The Blues became my bedrock team due to my pops’ acquisition of dope season tickets (we had a partial plan – my bro got ten games, and I got ten games. Those game selection drafts were hectic) all through high school. From my first day on Earth until I left for undergraduate school, the Blues won exactly won game after the 2nd round of the playoffs. One fucking game. Ironically enough, PBM & The Train attended that game together! One of my first truly belligerent evenings at a sporting event, as we led chants for two hours that mostly revolved around former Blues defensemen Bryce Salvador. Don’t ask. Common themes throughout that sustained above-average play that yielded basically nothing? Inconsistent goal tending, questionable coaching (guys too old or too new to the bench to inspire greatness), and a lack of depth on the grind lines / back end that constantly got exposed by legitimate contenders. From 1990-2001, The Red Army Redwings team, The Avalanche All Star squads, and the likes of Mike Modano’s Stars, Pavel Bure’s Canucks, Roenick’s Blackhawks, Doug Gilmour’s Maple Leaf’s, and Owen Nolan on the Avs & Sharks all owned the Blues in the post season. Countless moments of brutality took the form of ex-players like Gilmour, Brendan Shanahan, Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, Steve Duchense, and even the iconic Brett Hull either winning championships elsewhere and/or knocking us out of the playoffs along the way.
After some forgettable and downright pathetic years in the first decade of the 21st century, the Blues saw their season end at the hands of the physically dominate, eventual champion LA Kings a couple times (the teams this year’s championship squad most closely resembled). The rival Blackhawks vanquished ’em once or twice (not fact checking). Brent Burns beat the shit out of us nearly single handedly in their second WCF Finals appearance of my lifetime, and they most recently bowed out to the PK Subban-led Predators in lackluster fashion. That Predators loss killed me…their arena was once known as “Blues South” due to their fans still preferring “The Dukes of Hazard” live shows, and even they reached a Cup Final before I saw my Blues get to one. Also, post-2001 managed to keep the trend of beloved Blues winning Cups elsewhere intact. Chris Pronger snagged a cup or two, and TJ Oshie got one last year in DC. So yeah…up until January of 2019, being a Blues fan has really, really sucked. They never truly bottomed out aside from the Mike Kitchen, Andy Murray, and Davis Payne coached squads of the mid-2000’s. Those shitty years yielded only our captain, Alex Pietrangelo, via the draft. Any other relevant players we drafted either got moved before they blossomed or have made their way back to the team under current management. Little did I know it, everything about this magical season started in 2010. Following the aforementioned stretch of futility, the Blues brought in Doug Armstrong to run the show.
Part Two: Doug has strong arms, but he keeps skipping leg day.
Armstrong’s drafts since he took over as GM have yielded the following members of this year’s cup winning squad:
2010: Jayden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko
2011: Joel Edmundson, Jordan Binnington (he’d was an after thought for this long…even with Jake Allen, Brian Elliott, and Jaro Halak serving as glorified turnstiles)
2012: Colton Parayko (3rd round steal – Rakes finally become the standout we’ve wanted. AS games deluxe going forward, kids)
2013: No players on current team drafted, but we didn’t pick until 47
2014: Robby Fabbri, Ivan Barbashev, Sammy Blais
2015: Vince Dunn
2016: Armstrong shipped our first rounder this season to Buffalo for a guy named Ryan “Factor” O’Reilly. Pros of that deal? He won the Conn Smythe, baby.
2017: Robert Thomas
In this same time period, Armstrong executed big ticket trades for playoff MVP O’Reilly, rock solid veteran Jay Bouwmeester, and equal parts skill / toughness 1st-line center Brayden Schenn. He also landed defensemen Carl Gunarrsson and Robert Bortuzzo + invaluable forwards Oskar Sundqvist and Zach Sanford in what at the time could have been considered minor / throwaway roster moves. The group we saw for the majority of this cup run included FA signings David Perron (coming home to the team that drafted him as the only player with Stanley Cup experience on the roster), Tyler Bozak and Pat Maroon. Sidebar: Perron is a psychopath. Don’t let him in your homes. The captain Pietrangelo and Alexander Steen were the only men on this year’s roster pre-Dougie Biceps. This man went out and snagged a title team over the course of eight seasons, and he did so on probably his last shot before he was fired! Incredible. If only had started doing squats and lunges sooner! By this I mean hiring a coach who inspired more than a “Muskrat” nickname (Ken Hitchcock) or one who only inspired me to want to punch him in the face (Mike Yeo). His box jump of faith? To put faith in a guy he drafted in his second year with the team.
Part Three: Chief’s Mentality Breeds Fearlessness & Eventually Wins
I’m not sure the general public / Joe Fan knows that Craig “Chief” Berube won a Stanley Cup as an interim head coach. He joins Jack McKeon and fuckin’ Ty Lue as the only coaches to win pro sports championships with the interim tag. He’s obviously more McKeon than Ty…but I had to document that for the slow folk. Berube won the title saying things like this:
My dream is that Berube, Binnington, and hometown hero Pat “Big Rig” Maroon (signed a bargain bin, one year deal this past off-season) all get contract extensions at the same celebratory press conference. I want Bouwmeester to sit up there too, as Armstrong seemingly inexplicably extended his deal another season before those other three. Coined “Slowmeester” by myself and others, he was getting healthy scratched and looked terrible for at least two seasons. Or maybe it only seemed that way, because our former goaltender Jake Allen couldn’t stop a shot to save his damn life. Regardless, Doug was spot on and I was dead wrong.
Ok, time to backtrack. Here’s the last portion of how this all came together. Armstrong lunged at the opportunity to finally shitcan Mike Yeo in November. He installed Berube as the Interim HC for the remainder of the year. The team didn’t take him right away, and actually played below .500 hockey for his first six weeks. However, it only took about a month for them to adopt the demeanor their new HC played with during his NHL years – Berube is an all time leader in penalty minutes and was a legendary tough guy. The first dude to go full Chief? That’d be Bobby “Ya Know” Bortuzzo – take a look.
That’s Zach Sanford whom Borts is raining haymakers down upon. In practice. Holy fucking shit, right? It needs to be noted that both of these dudes had shining moments / big goals in the Cup run despite being shuffled in and out of the lineup all season. That fight and the subsequent fire it lit under the team triggered the subsequent magic. The team came out of the holidays and into 2019 playing like a Blues squad I’d never seen before. Steady, tremendous play from its top skill players such as O’Reilly, Tarasenko, Schenn, Parakyo, Dunn, Bozak, and Pietrangelo combined with ferocious third and fourth line play spearheaded by youngsters Thomas, Blais, Sanford, Barbashev, and Sundqvist. They won 11 games in a row upon the insertion of the 25-year old Binnington in between the pipes. Without the fight, I don’t think we get here. Without Berube, we don’t get the fight.
Berube did way more than encourage tough, relentless hockey at all times. He was consistent with forward lines and defensive pairings, and he pulled the plug on Jake Allen despite his absurd contract. He turned the keys over to Binnington, and Binner never looked back. As the team climbed from last in the league to eventually jockeying for the top seed in the West, other forces were at play that hadn’t come into the public eye yet. All us Blues knew at the time was that for the first time in history we had a team that could wreak havoc in the playoffs, and just maybe could play into the month of June.
Part Four: New Style of Play Meets an Inspirational Tidal Wave
PLAY GLORIA! I’m not covering this element. It’s been beaten to death, and I don’t care if you don’t understand why it’s our victory song. Google it, or just listen to Y98 in STL. “Heat Is On” – you’ve been replaced. Last thing on Gloria – you’re a moron if you don’t think a Nelly remix is DEFINITELY on the horizon…
I think it was after the first round Winnipeg series that we met Laila Anderson. I was at the close out to that one, and I had already placed tons of inspirational emphasis on it being our anthem singer’s final season with the team due to having MS. Sidebar: Jaden Schwartz arrived in this series. He never looked back after essentially wining games five & six with his play in key moments.
Please know this…I LOVE CHARLES GLENN. Really gonna miss you buddy.
I banked on this being enough, right? Hollywood material all day, yo. Charles is a local legend for Christ’s sake! Charles’ story become a near after thought once Laila Anderson became the face of our fan base (fuck you, Jon Hamm. Shaving your beard…Burroughs through and through, man).
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
It’s so dusty, right? I can’t believe Boston thought Big Papi delivering a message following getting shot in a Dominican night club could rival Laila’s story….! FOH, Beantown. Did Laila hoist? You’re damn right she did!
Ummm…excuse me for a minute. I gotta clean my face again of all this salty residue. Been happening a lot today. Here’s the backstory on Bortuzzo’s nickname as I handle that:
And we’re back! And we’re really just back to say that we’re done. The Blues won the cup. That’s how they did it. I’m in LA for work and will be busting ass to get back to the Lou for the parade on Saturday. Gotta change my flight, and that’s gonna happen. Unreal, family.
Wait! One last thing – my little bro attended game seven in Boston. He ran into a fellow Blues fan we sat next to at game four of the Sharks series. I have dubbed him “Space Eater,” as he was the most invasive person I’ve ever encountered in my life. The dude in front of him called the usher on him due to his massive presence, and Space Chomper was warned to take it easy. He chose to heckle the snitch with the time-honored “are you gonna call your mommy again” for the remainder of the game. He had on homemade, forged autograph laden jean shorts. He attended game four solo dolo. And ya know what?!? His devouring of space has become endearing to me in hindsight, and my little bro seriously befriended him last night! Befriended him to the point that we’re all going to a game together next season. Here’s live-action shots of the muncher of space – my bro got before and after pics:
THE BLUES WON THE CUP! THE BLUES WON THE CUP! GREAT GOD ALMIGHTY, THE BLUES WON THE STANLEY CUP!
PBM is at peace. Later, y’all.