How did we get here?
I remember my first Blues game. They were TERRIBLE. Dallas Drake was wearing the letter that falls between B and D.
It was the winter of 2005 and a family friend came across some seats close to the ice. We’re talking close enough to fist bump the players as they came onto the ice.
The sport was foreign to me, but I remember being curious. I could tell you I was so immediately fascinated that I became a fan right away, but that’s simply not the truth.
My fandom grew over time. I learned about hockey as a young Alex Pietrangelo, T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund learned how to play in the NHL.
My time as a Blues fan has had a common theme: the team I adored was never respected.
Over the years I heard the same thing from many sources. Talking heads on television, my friends who like other hockey teams, opposing players, in one way or another they all had the same thing to say.
Oh it is just the Blues. They have never won a Cup. There is no reason to be afraid of that young, unproven team. You know they will lose in the first round anyway.
It is just the Blues.
I am sick and tired of being just the Blues.
This franchise has been around since 1967. It has had some of the best players in the game wear its famous logo. The Great One? Yep. He was willing to retire here. Martin Brodeur? He actually did. Then there was Hull and Oates. Federko. Pronger? Yeah. Him too. Like goalies? Fuhr. Joseph. More than their fair share of Plagers and Sutters too.
I am rambling. My point: the franchise is not short on history. It has played its part in the league’s history.
Yet, the team struggles to earn the respect many think it deserves.
Why? Results. No results, no respect. First round exits don’t build respect.
But this spring did.
Beating your biggest rival, the defending champions, in seven games? Check. Beating your division’s winner? Check. Fighting to the very end of the Conference Finals? Check.
There will be no banner in Scottrade, but 2016 was a banner year in a different way for the St. Louis Blues. It was the year the Blues told the rest of the league that they aren’t a doormat anymore.
The Blues are going to give you a fight.
They have a 40-goal scorer locked up long term. They have a franchise defenseman locked up long term. They have a goalie tandem that any team would be happy to have. They have a 23-year-old, 6’6″ defenseman with a shot to match his size that has proved he is not afraid of the spotlight. They have two young budding stars in Fabbri and Schawartz. These players deserve more respect just like their franchise does.
This team can no longer be ignored.
They are no longer just the Blues.