By Ashley Sorgea
Oh it is that wonderful time of year again where you can just smell the spring air and feel the wonderful breeze the season brings that clears away all the harshness that winter hath wrought. The great time when the battles of the regular season have taken their toll and the 16 playoff bound teams are starting to emerge. Oh what a wonderful time that is, if you aren’t a St. Louis Blues fan. To be a Blues fan you defiantly have to put up with some intense abuse. Often the Blues are called the “Cubs” of hockey. Almost there but always seemingly blowing it in the end. I myself LOVE my Blues. I would take a bullet for David “Inglorious” Backes or ward off some crazy teenage Fan girls from the T.J. Oshie… *Wink* *Wink*. But I am not blind when it comes to seeing that following this team often leads to heartache and disappointment, which again leads back to that evil comparison to the Cubs.
I don’t follow baseball, AT ALL. I can’t tell you the Cardinals record from the past 5 seasons, I can’t tell you who their best player is, I can’t really tell you anything except their colors are red and white. Yes I am THAT dense about baseball. BUT I do know that their hated rival in the sport is the Chicago Cubs and that the Chicago Cubs have possibly the weirdest and upsetting post-season history in Sports. Now mind you all of this I learned AFTER I made my move to Chicago to start film school and was conned into making a documentary about the Cards and Cubs rivalry and the fandom (…yada yada…) my point is the Blues are compared to this baseball team because they hold the NHL record for most post season appearances WITH OUT A CHAMPIONSHIP. That’s right ladies and gentlemen my beautiful boys in blue have never had the prestigious opportunity to hoist that great silver chalice known as Lord Stanley’s Cup. They have never had a parade down Market Street and they certainly have never had the opportunity to create some crazy mythological drunken (or sober) stories about their days with the Stanley Cup. I am looking at you Patrick Kane.
So roll around to this year. The 2010-2011 season started off swimmingly to say the least. Over the summer the management office made one of the most highlighted deals the franchise has had in its history. They managed to steal Montreal’s WonderGoalie, the Halakness Monster if you will, Jaroslav Halak. The man carried his team into the 2009-2010 season kicking and screaming and then some. He was heralded as a hero by the Canadian fans and somehow the St. Louis Blues snuck in and “stole” him from them… well they aren’t really saying that anymore ‘cause Carey Price has had a FANOMANAL year after being booed and persecuted by the majority of the fans at the season’s opening. The boys of the Lou started off this season with a record breaking and league best, with a record of 9-1-2. Battles were won in every aspect of hockey; the fans finally thought “Hey, it’s finally OUR year!”
Queue Joe Thornton and his evil elbow of truth! Injury after injury seemed to befall the team. David Perron took an elbow to the head from Thorten whilst the Shark’s Capn’ was coming out of the box. Number 57 left the game and was thought to be done for the night but he returned and scored the game-winning goal for the Note. But alas young Frenchie has yet to be on the ice or even the training room since that fateful November night. Fast forward a few weeks later: T.J. Oshie gets into a scrum in the corner while the Blues are suffering an 8-1 game to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He falls awkwardly and breaks his ankle leaving him out till the end of January. Roman Polak, Andy McDonald, Barret Jackmen, Alex “the Nose” Steen, and the list goes on and on. All of these injuries came at horrible points in time. Individually do I think the Blues could have faired better? Probably, but we will never know because this pile of injuries left the roster with many holes that could only be filled with Minor Leaguers who might not exactly be ready for the speed, tenacity, and rigorousness of the NHL.
What started out as an amazing season spun way off into a headfirst death-spin of lackluster performances and down right horrid game play by the once league leader that people thought was going places. All of a sudden the Blues found themselves at the basement of the league. Unexpectedly, the major investor in the team up and left, leaving its figure head Dave Checketts to pick up the pieces and find this spiraling team a new backer that would prevent its sale, much like five years prior. Checketts assured the fans that by the February All-Star break a deal would be finalized with a new partner and the Blues would be safe from any financial troubles. The February deadline came and passed. The Blues fell further and further down the totem pole and the fans were left wondering what had happened, what was going to happen and billions of other unanswered questions.
And then came the trade deadline… first the Team lost their captain, Eric Brewer. Then they started unloading the duo of Brads and soon came the kicker, former first round draft pick Eric Johnson and Silent Jay McClement off to Colorado for Chris Stewert and Kevin Shattenkirk. The start of March left the Blues still mathematically eligible to make the playoffs and it felt like the team started scrounging and scrapping for whatever points were available. But the fans knew the destruction of hope was very near imminent. The fans put themselves on red alert and proceeded to support the team but frustration started to peek. The team’s motto of “whatever it takes” seemed like a lie because in every game the team seemed to completely fold or only play 40 minutes instead of the full 60. The fan website “St. Louis Game Time” erupted with articles of what needed to be done with this team and what the management needed to fix, some even addressed an open letter to the Management office saying they had until next year to fix the team or they would lose another fan.
Through all of this the team still pulled through in attendance, somehow. The fan base is here in St. Louis; the team has so much support, which is something that is very different from 5 years ago when the Laurie family put the team up for sale. But now, the Blues are in the same boat. A for sale sign sits in the front lawn of the Scottrade Center and Dave Checketts is about to leave town and be yet another passing ship that couldn’t bring that wonderful glimmer of silver to the gateway city. Lots of questions need to be answered over this summer. The main one is filling the many holes in the team’s depth that have been so glaring and flashing off a bright red light since the plague of injuries hit. Let the businessmen worry about business and leave the hockey-ing to those that know more about it than what they limitedly hear on SportsCenter. For now I bid adieu to the 2010-2011 St. Louis Blues and can’t wait to see what the off-season brings… Bring on the 2011-2012 season!