First, a warning to Chicago fans and readers: This is a column about the St. Louis Blues. I’m a St. Louis woman and I can’t resist writing this. We will return to the regularly scheduled Loyola Chicago content shortly.
Jan. 2, I was sitting on press row of Enterprise Center — home of the Blues. My favorite hockey team was in last place and I had pretty much written them off the rest of the season.
Fast forward — The Blues play for Lord Stanley’s Cup tonight. Five months ago, I would have never thought they’d be in this situation. I probably wouldn’t have said they’d be playing game seven of the finals at the beginning of the playoffs, but here we are.
I remember sitting in The Phoenix’s newsroom during game seven of the Blues’ Western Conference Semifinals matchup against Dallas Stars and screaming with Arts and Entertainment Editor and fellow St. Louisan Mary Grace Ritter when they won.
I remember thinking, “Wow, I wish I could be home to watch the Blues play in the playoffs with my family. In my city.” In my city because this is something worth living with the only other people who understand the Blues like I do.
Here I am. In St. Louis living the dream. Covering the Blues with my internship at KFNS-AM 590 “The Fan.” My life revolves around the Blues right now. I almost named my new dog after a Blues player, but refrained because I didn’t want to risk jinxing anything — his name is Finlay by the way.
I’m not the only one whose life revolves around the Blues, though. Just about every St. Louisan is in the same spot.
The Blues have never won a Stanley Cup. They’re one of the oldest franchises in the NHL and they haven’t won a Cup. They’ve spent the last 52 years trying for one. The last chance they had? 1970 — also against the Boston Bruins.
It’s a historic year. The Blues won their first Stanley Cup Final game ever in game two. They won their first Stanley Cup Final game at home in game four. This could be the year they take home the Cup for the first time ever — thank god, too, because it would finally end Sports Editor Nick Schultz’s degrading “no Cup” jokes.
More importantly, St. Louis fans have never gotten a Cup.
St. Louis is a city that is often overlooked and disrespected as a sports city — thanks Stan Kroenke and the Rams. Despite that, St. Louis fans are some of the most devoted fans in the sports industry.
More than 50 years without a Cup. The fans are still here. Even when the Blues where in last place Jan. 3, Enterprise Center was still full of fans. For game seven, Blues fans have sold out Enterprise Center, Busch Stadium and will fill Ballpark Village, numerous bars, and Market Street — the street right outside Enterprise Center — to watch this game.
More than 50,000 people flooded Market Street for the game six watch party June 9. NHL officials expected 20,000. My brother and many others got turned away. This is a big deal to St. Louis fans. St. Louis fans are a big deal.
This is bigger than a hockey team, bigger than the Blues. The ride that the Blues have been on in the past couple of months has been the biggest run in St. Louis sports quite possibly ever.
No one has seen the Blues win a Stanley Cup — no one under 49 has ever witnessed a Blues Stanley Cup Final — and it’s bringing St. Louis fans together. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Whether I’m in Chicago watching it with Ritter or in the 590 studio with my coworkers, everyone in St. Louis is bonding over this moment.
Win or lose, St. Louis fans are together all over the nation watching this game. They’ll be together in the end no matter the outcome. If the Blues lose, the fans will still be there. There’s no such thing as a fair-weather fan in St. Louis.
I’ve lived in a lot of different places. I’ve covered a lot of different teams. I’ve never seen anyone as dedicated to a team as St. Louisans are right now to the Blues.
I’m in St. Louis tonight and I’ll hopefully be watching history be made with the millions of other St. Louis fans. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.