The 66 hours that started with the Blues Game Seven victory at Boston on Wednesday night and culminated with Saturday’s parade and rally for the Stanley Cup Champions, to me, the greatest sports event in this region in my lifetime, and by extension the greatest event ever in STL.
The sheer joy that people experienced throughout the town on Wednesday was incredible. From the watch parties at Enterprise Center , Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village , to all of the bars and restaurants to each individual home that was watching, the town felt it. And typical of St. Louis, as soon as the game was over, fans were in line to purchase Stanley Cup Champions merchandise as soon as it hit the shelves.
A large contingent of fans made the early morning trek to Signature Air Support to welcome the team home, and by the afternoon the Cup had made it’s way to O.B. Clark’s in Brentwood for a raucous celebration .
It was more of the same on Friday, and then on Saturday the Blues participated in the greatest celebration in St. Louis history. They shared the Cup with fans, shared themselves with fans, and made everyone feel a part of their success.
This just doesn’t happen. We’ve had many World Series celebrations, which have been great. But Cardinal players haven’t participated with the the crowd to the degree Blues players did. Same with the Super Bowl parade on January 31, 2000. It was magnificent, it was a party, but it was cold and the final celebration ended at Union Station rather than at the Arch grounds. And players didn’t spend the majority of their time getting out of their cars and trucks to interact with their adoring public.
The big difference, though, is the trophy. I’ve always regarded the Stanley Cup as the greatest trophy in North American team sports. There’s legend surrounding the Cup that just doesn’t exist with the Lombardi Trophy, the Lawrence O’Brien Trophy or the Commissioner’s Trophy. You don’t see what happened at O.B. Clark’s with other sports or with other championship trophies.
The Stanley Cup is a mystical, amazing thing. To watch people have the chance to touch it and light up or break down in tears when they do so is remarkable and emotional.
That’s what made Saturday the greatest day in St. Louis history. That cup, that mythical chalice and it’s winners were made available to view and touch for an estimated 1.5 million people. It brought joy to the young , the old, as Pat Maroon brought the Cup to an 89 year old man and his 81 year old wife to touch…
and those with cognitive disability
People would touch the Stanley Cup and burst into tears. The loudest ovations that players got were when they hoisted the Cup.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, it didn’t seem real to me. Seeing MY team, the St. Louis Blues, lift the Stanley Cup above their heads was something that only happened in my dreams. To see the unbridled joy the front office, the Blues alumni and that the players and staff displayed made it real, and it was real fun.
Since 1901, if you’ve turned 25 in St. Louis, you’ve experienced a Cardinal World Championship. We expect those. We’re used to them. While the Rams Super Bowl victory was awesome, our community didn’t have a chance to get as emotionally invested in that franchise when they won as we did in a team that’s been here for 52 years.
All of that pent up frustration, all of those years of failed hopes and dreams, all of our worries about never being able to see a Stanley Cup in our town have been released with a seven game win over the Bruins.
These Blues are now legends. Jordan Binnington can be looked at in the same light at Kurt Warner. Patrick Maroon can be compared to David Freese. Ryan O’Reilly did the same thing Marshall Faulk did. Vladimir Tarasenko can reasonably be compared to Isaac Bruce. Craig Berube will be as fondly remembered as Dick Vermeil.
What we do best in St. Louis is sports. As Michelle Smallmon so deftly noted, as we grow up, we aren’t at swimming at the beach or skiing in the mountains or shopping in a commercial mecca. We’re going to stadiums and arenas watching sports. We have one passion, and that’s a passion for our sports teams.
The 2018-2019 St. Louis Blues made many, many longtime passionate fans so happy. And they’ve inspired so many more people to invest themselves in the greatest sport to invest in, hockey.
The unbelievable is real. The St. Louis Blues are Champions. And they have delivered the greatest gift and the greatest time in our region’s history.