St. Louis Blues Winter Classic Emotional Even From Home

The St. Louis Blues aren’t as followed nationally as their baseball neighbors. Within the city, there is just as much passion about the hockey team as any other that has graced this town.

The St. Louis Blues playing in a Winter Classic was the culmination of what those of us that bleed for the team and sport have known for quite some time. St. Louis is a hockey city.

It will never reach the heights of the following baseball gets. The Cardinals have been around since 1882 and the Blues are just celebrating their 50th year this season.

That said, within the city the fans are spread more evenly than one would think. The main difference has always been the width of Cardinals nation.

So many fans come from Arkansas, Louisiana, Iowa, Kansas and all around. If you compared the number of baseball fans just within St. Louis to that of the Blues it might not differ so greatly.

So, it was fitting that the St. Louis Blues looked so at home in the home stadium of the St. Louis Cardinals. After all the talk of distractions, once the game finally arrived, the Blues went to work and got things done.

Unfortunately, I was among the thousands that were unable to attend. I feel those that could not go are any less of a fan, we just had different circumstances.

Kudos to those that could go. My parents were there and I’m sure it was something they’ll remember for a long time. I had friends there as well and their feelings on the event echoed my previous statement.

I would have loved to go. It really may have been a once in a lifetime experience and it stings to have missed it. Nevertheless, personal circumstances come first no matter how much you love a sports team.

Even unable to be there, the game still meant a lot. It was a fantastic day and St. Louis did just about everything right.

The only way it could have been better is if the rain had been a few scattered snow flakes. Other than that, it all seemed to go off without a hitch.

It would have been nice to see the game live in its entirety as well. I had to work and caught the third period on my break.

Thank goodness for the timing of that. I might not have had 45,000-plus surrounding me, but my reactions to Vladimir Tarasenko‘s goals were no less passionate.

This game and the fact that the Blues won was no where near the level of a Stanley Cup, but it was special. It was special enough that when time was low enough that you expected the team could not lose, I got an emotional tickle in my throat.

Yes, it is silly to get emotional over sports, especially one game. Winning hockey’s holy chalice would be worthy of a tear or two, but one game?

I told myself it was alright though. We all go through our own battles in life and the Blues provide us some respite, even if they drive us crazy as well.

For them to step up on the big stage and give us all a perfect performance made for just about a perfect day. Those are pretty rare in sports since the other team cares not for our own feelings.

It was just great to see everyone we support have a good game. Even the most challenged and borderline hated by the fans came through.

Jay Bouwmeester played like a guy worth the contract he has. He was jostling with Blackhawks in front of the net. Bouw was making slick passes, exiting the zone with purpose and even set up a goal.

St. Louis Blues

Jan 2, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) covers the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period in the 2016 Winter Classic ice hockey game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Allen was the Snake again. Given the season he has had, you might expect him to lower his head and have a shaky game after that initial goal got by him since he has been snake-bitten (no pun intended) this year.

Not so on this day. Allen just tightened his pads up and went to work. He made several key saves throughout the game, especially when it was 1-0 Chicago and 1-1. Keeping the Blackhawks off the board in those situations allowed the team to play freely instead of needing to press.

The Blues got a goal for Alexander Steen also. He had gone over 20 games since his last goal.

While it was just an empty netter, it was meaningful. Sometimes you just need that lucky bounce or easy one to get you going. Who knows if Steen goes on a tear, but three goals simply was not good enough and now he’s gotten over the hump of that 300 assists and 500 points.

st. louis blues

Jan 2, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period in the 2016 Winter Classic ice hockey game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Patrik Berglund came up big too. At this point there is very little Bergy can do to turn opinions around. Still, he has looked a better overall player this season. Scoring an important goal in an important game was just rewards.

Tarasenko proved to be the hero we all wanted him to be in last year’s playoffs.  Sure, it’s just a regular season game, but for him to put the team on his shoulders was a big step towards what is surely a bright future.

It was just a great game for everyone. Fans and players alike could enjoy it all. Blues announcer Chris Kerber mentioned on the radio that owner Tom Stillman even looked emotional. He wanted this game for the fans.

Even more than just the enjoyment for us, it allowed the rest of the nation to see what St. Louis is about beyond baseball. Blues fans packed Busch Stadium for two games in a row – the alumni game and the Winter Classic.

It should come as no surprise. The Blues are actually third in TV ratings for all U.S. based teams.

St. Louis fans are some of the best in the country. We don’t get the recognition because we don’t live in a top 10 market, so we don’t matter as much to the numbers crunchers.

In the end, it was a perfect coming together from all aspects. Fans made the city proud. Ownership did fans and the team proud. The team did us all proud by putting their hearts into this one big time.

It was a perfect way to unite people. St. Louis has gone through so much recently with the garbage way the Rams left and how their turncoat owner bashed his home state.

Of course there was the Ferguson incident and all the things that followed. One hockey game can’t heal all that, but it made us all feel good.

For me personally, it gave me that feeling we had when the team was running through the playoffs.

The Blues might return to their inconsistent ways. They might not use this game as a springboard to something good.

This one performance might just be a blip on the radar. It will always be a memorable blip though, whether you were there or just wished you were.

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