January 13th. I heard that date last week and thought, “FINALLY”, the NHL has decided to return and we can get back to some type of normalcy. Not normalcy like we remember, but normalcy like we had when the Cardinals were on the field. Actual sports in St. Louis. While anticipating January 13th like a kid waiting for Santa to swing by, I was hit with a heavy feeling last night, “damn I miss you St. Louis”.
A year ago tonight we were prepping for a home game against the Blackhawks and I was planning for a sold out house at Enterprise Center. A year ago things felt like just another day in paradise with no masks being worn, no employment being worried about, just what time we were meeting up with “our group” at the Brett Hull statue and how many goals the PP would score.
The more we live in “today’s world” the more we learn to appreciate anything and everything that comes at us in the next few months. Sure, hockey isn’t going to be the same with the new divisions and shortened season. Yes, it’s going to suck watching games on the West Coast and debating if it’s worth it to stay up for overtime and be exhausted for work. And I can guarantee you that the first home game in an empty stadium is going to feel like a gut punch. But, it’s for a limited time and it gives us all something to look forward to.
I can’t wait for that next drive to Enterprise seeing cars next to me at stop lights decked out in Blues gear. For that stroll into the stadium and taking in that first musk of beer and garlic french fries. To see all of you fans lined up in the first row during warm-ups and desperately trying to persuade a player to toss you that free puck. For that god-like voice of Tom Calhoun saying “Make Some Noise Tonight”. More than anything, I can’t wait for you fans to be back.
Back in the building, standing on your feet for the entirety of the third period as the Blues look to close out the win. Back to chanting “Let’s Go Blues” in the waning minutes of a power play. Back to taunting the opposing goaltenders with whatever created chant you’ve come up with. Back to being a city all wanting one thing, a Blues victory and another shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup.
This world sucks right now, plain and simple. But January 13th is a date, for me, that signals something. The end of the worst year ever and the beginning of a new Blues season and a new opportunity to enjoy the little things and jump back on the road of normalcy.
Love you STL,
– AF –