- St. Louis Blues (hockey)
team_name = St. Louis Blues
bg_color = #00529B
text_color = #FDB827
conference = Western
division = Central
founded = 1967
history = St. Louis Blues
St. Louis, Missouri
KPLR (CW 11)
KMOX (1120 AM)
team_colors = Royal Blue, Dark Blue, Gold, White
mascot = Louie the Bear
head_coach = flagicon|CAN Andy Murray
general_manager = flagicon|USA
owner = flagicon|USA
captain = flagicon|CAN Eric Brewer
Peoria Rivermen(AHL) Alaska Aces( ECHL)
stanley_cups = None
conf_titles = None
division_titles = 1968–69, 1969–70, 1976–77, 1980–81, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1999–00The St. Louis Blues are a professional
ice hockeyteam based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League(NHL). The team is named after the famous W. C. Handysong "St. Louis Blues," and plays in the 19,150-seat Scottrade Centerin downtown St. Louis.
Early history (1967–70)
The Blues were one of the six teams added to the NHL in the 1967 expansion, along with the
Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and California Seals. They are, along with the Kings and Seals, one of the three teams from the 1967 expansion not to have won a Stanley Cup.
St. Louis was the last of the expansion teams to officially gain entry into the league, chosen over
Baltimoreat the insistence of the Chicago Blackhawks. At the time, the Blackhawks were (and still are) owned by the influential Wirtz family of Chicago, which also owned the then-decrepit St. Louis Arena. The Wirtzes sought to unload the Arena, which had not been well-maintained since the 1940s, and thus pressed the NHL to give St. Louis a franchise over Baltimore. The team's first owners were insurance tycoon Sid Salomon Jr., his son, Sid Salomon III, and Robert L. Wolfson, who were granted the franchise in 1966. Sid Salomon III convinced his initially wary father to make a bid for the team. Salomon then spent several million dollars on massive renovations for the 38-year-old Arena, which increased the number of seats from 12,000 to 15,000.
The Blues were originally coached by
Lynn Patrickwho, after a quick resignation, was replaced by Scotty Bowman. Although the league's rules effectively kept star players with the Original Sixteams, the Blues managed to stand out in the inferior Western Division. Capitalizing on a playoff format that required an expansion team to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blues reached the final round each of their first three seasons, though they were swept first by the Montreal Canadiensin 1968 and 1969 and then by the Boston Bruinsin 1970.
While the first Blues' teams included aging and faded veterans like
Doug Harvey, Don McKenneyand Dickie Moore, the veteran goaltending tandem of Glenn Halland Jacques Planteproved more durable, winning a Vezina Trophyin 1969 behind a sterling defense that featured players like skilled defensive forward Jim Roberts and hardrock brothers Bob and Barclay Plager. Phil Goyettewon the Lady Byng Trophyfor the Blues in 1970 and New York Rangerscastoff Red Berenson became the expansion team's first major star at center. The Arena quickly became one of the loudest buildings in the NHL, a reputation it maintained throughout its tenure as the Blues' home.
During that time, Salomon gained a reputation throughout the league as the ultimate players' owner. He gave his players cars, signed them to deferred contracts, and treated them to vacations in
Florida. The players, used to being treated like mere commodities, felt the only way they could pay him back was to give their best on the ice every night. cite book |last= Diamond |first= Dan |title= Total NHL |publisher= Triumph Books|year= 2003 |isbn = 1572436042]
The Blues' Struggles (1970–77)
The Blues' successes in the late 1960s, however, did not continue into the 1970s as the playoff format changed and the
Chicago Blackhawkswere moved into the still inferior Western Division. The Blues lost Bowman, who went to Montreal following a power-sharing dispute with Sid Salomon III (who was taking an increasing role in team affairs), as well as Hall, Plante, Goyette, and ultimately Berenson, who were lost to retirement or trade. The Berenson trade, however, did bring then-Red Wings star center Garry Unger, who ultimately scored 30 goals in eight consecutive seasons while breaking the NHL's consecutive games played record.
Defensively, however, the Blues were less than stellar and saw Chicago and the
Philadelphia Flyersovertake the division. After missing the playoffs for the first time in 1973–74, the Blues ended up in the Smythe Divisionafter a realignment. This division, too, was particularly weak, and in 1976–77 the Blues won it while finishing five games below .500, though this would be their last playoff appearance in the decade.
In the meantime, the franchise was on the brink of financial collapse. This was partly due to the pressures of the
World Hockey Association, but mostly the result of financial decisions made when the Salomons first acquired the franchise. Deferred contracts came due just as the Blues' performance began to slip. At one point, the Salomons cut the team's staff down to three employees. One of them was Emile Francis, who served as team president, general manager and coach.
Purina Era (1977–83)
The Salomons finally found a buyer in St. Louis-based pet food giant
Ralston Purinain 1977, who renamed the Arena "the Checkerdome." Francis and minority owner Wolfson helped put together the deal with Ralston Purina, which ensured that the Blues would stay in St. Louis. Only a year after finishing with only 18 wins (still the worst season in franchise history), the Blues made the playoffs in 1980, the first of 25 consecutive post-season appearances. The team's improvement continued into 1981, when the Berenson-coached team, led by Wayne Babych(54 goals), future Hall of Famer Bernie Federko(104 points), Brian Sutter(35 goals), and goaltender Mike Liut(second to Wayne Gretzkyfor the Hart Trophy), finished with 45 wins and 107 points, the second-best record in the league. Their regular-season success, however, did not transfer into the playoffs, as they were eliminated by the New York Rangersin the second round. The Blues followed their generally successful 1980–81 campaign with two consecutive sub-.500 seasons, though they still managed to make playoffs each year.
Purina lost an estimated $1.8 million a year during its ownership of the Blues, but took the losses philosophically, having taken over out of a sense of civic responsibility. In 1983, Purina's longtime chairman, R. Hal Dean, retired. His successor wanted to refocus on the core pet food business, and had no interest in hockey. He only saw a division that was bleeding money, and put the Blues on the market. The Blues did not pick anyone in the
1983 NHL Entry Draftbecause Purina did not send a representative; the company basically abandoned the team. It finally found a buyer in a group of investors led by WHA and Edmonton Oilersfounder Bill Hunter, who then made plans to move the team to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. However, the NHL was unwilling to lose a market as large as St. Louis and vetoed the deal. Hunter then padlocked the Checkerdome and turned the team over to the league. The team appeared destined for contraction when, on July 27, 1983, Harry Ornest, a Los Angeles-based businessman, came in at the 11th hour to save the franchise. Ornest immediately renamed the Checkerdome back to the St. Louis Arena.
Road to a new arena & the Brett Hull era (1983–96)
Ornest ran the Blues on a shoestring budget. However, the players did not mind, because (according to Sutter) they badly wanted to stay in St. Louis. For instance, he asked many players to defer their salaries to help meet operating costs, but they always got paid in the end. During most of his tenure, the Blues had only 26 players under contract – 23 in St. Louis, plus three on their farm team in
Montana. Most NHL teams during the mid-1980s had over 60 players under contract.cite book |last=Duhatschek |first=Eric et al. |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Hockey Chronicles |year=2001 |publisher=Checkmark Books |location=New York City |isbn=0816046972]
Despite being run on the cheap, the Blues remained competitive even though they never finished more than six games over .500 in Ornest's three years as owner. During this time,
Doug Gilmour, drafted by St. Louis in 1982, emerged as a star.
However, while the Blues remained competitive, they were unable to keep many of their young players. More often than not, several of the Blues' young guns ended up as
Calgary Flames, and the sight of Flames executive Al MacNeilwas always greeted with dread. In fact, several of the Blues' young stars, such as Rob Ramageand Gilmour, were main cogs in the Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup win. Sutter and Federko were probably the only untouchables.
By 1986, the team reached the
Campbell ConferenceFinals against the Flames. Doug Wickenheiser's overtime goal in Game 6 to cap a furious comeback remains one of the greatest moments in team history (known locally as the "Monday Night Miracle"), but the Blues lost Game 7, 2–1. After that season, Ornest sold the team to a group led by St. Louis businessman Michael Shanahan.
St. Louis kept chugging along through the late 1980s and early 1990s. General manager
Ron Caronmade astute moves, landing forwards Brett Hull, Adam Oates, and Brendan Shanahan, defenseman Al MacInnis, and goaltender Curtis Josephamong others. While the Blues contended during this time period, they never passed the second round of the playoffs. Still, their on-ice success was enough for a consortium of 19 companies to buy the team. They also provided the capital to build the Kiel Center (now the Scottrade Center), which opened in 1994.
Hull, nicknamed the "Golden Brett" (a reference to his father, NHL legend
Bobby Hull, who was nicknamed the "Golden Jet"), became one of the league's top superstars and a scoring sensation, netting 86 goals in 1990–91 en route to earning the Hart Memorial Trophyas the league's most valuable player. Hull's 86 goals are the third-most any NHL player has scored in a single season; only Wayne Gretzkyscored more goals in a season (notching 92 in 1981-82 and 87 in 1983-84). Also, only Gretzky found the net more than Hull during any given three-year period. Despite posting the second-best regular-season record in the entire league in 1990-91, the Blues lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Minnesota North Stars, a defeat that was symbolic of St. Louis' playoff struggles.
From President's Trophy to the League Basement (1997–2006)
Mike Keenanwas hired as both general manager and coach prior to the abbreviated 1995 season, with the hope that he could cure the post-season turmoil Blues fans had endured for years. Keenan instituted major changes, including trades that sent away fan favorites Brendan Shanahanand Curtis Joseph, as well as the acquisition of the legendary but aging Gretzky and goalie Grant Fuhr, both from the declining Los Angeles Kings(Gretzky left for the New York Rangersas an unrestricted free agentfollowing the season). In spite of all he was prophesied to accomplish, Keenan's playoff resume with St. Louis included a first-round exit in 1995 and a second-round exit in 1996, and he was fired on December 19, 1996. Caron was reinstated as interim general manager for the rest of season, and current GM Larry Pleau was hired on June 9, 1997. But that did not stop Hull, who had a lengthy feud with Keenan, from leaving for the Dallas Starsin 1998. He went on to win the Stanley Cupwith the Stars the next year, scoring a controversial goal on Buffalo's Dominik Hasekto clinch the Cup for Dallas.
Chris Pronger(acquired from the Hartford Whalersin 1995 for Shanahan), Pavol Demitra, Pierre Turgeon, Al MacInnis, and goalie Roman Turekkept the Blues a contender. In 1999–2000, they notched a franchise-record 114 points during the regular season, earning the Presidents' Trophyfor the league's best record. However, they were stunned by the San Jose Sharksin the first round in seven games. In 2001, the Blues advanced to the Western Conference Finals before bowing out in five games to eventual Champions Colorado Avalanche. They remained competitive for the next three years, but never got past the second round.
Despite years of mediocrity and the stigma of never being able to "take the next step", the Blues were a playoff presence every year from 1980 to 2004 — the second longest active streak in
North American professional sports at the time. Amid several questionable personnel moves and an unstable ownership situation, the Blues finished the 2005–06 season with their worst record in 27 years. They missed the playoffs for only the fourth time in franchise history. Also, for the first time in club history, the normally excellent support seen by St. Louisans began to fade away, with crowds normally numbering around 12,000, a far cry from the team's normal high (about 18,000 in a 19,500 seat arena). Wal-Martheir Nancy Walton Laurieand her husband Bill purchased the Blues in 1999, but on June 17, 2005announced that they would sell the team. Bill Laurie had long desired to buy an NBA team, and it was thought that this desire caused him to neglect the Blues. On September 29, 2005it was announced that the Lauries had signed an agreement to sell the Blues to SCP Worldwide, a consulting and investment group headed by former Madison Square Gardenpresident Dave Checketts. On November 14, 2005the Blues announced that SCP Worldwide had officially withdrawn from negotiations to buy the team. On December 27, 2005it was announced that the Blues had signed a letter of intent to exclusively negotiate with General Sports and Entertainment, LLC. However, after the period of exclusivity, SCP entered the picture again. On March 24, 2006, the Lauries completed the sale of the Blues and the lease to the Savvis Center to SCP and TowerBrook Capital Partners, L.P.
Under new management, the Blues promptly installed John Davidson as president of hockey operations, moving Pleau to a mostly advisory role. The former Rangers goalie promptly made some big deals, picking up
Jay McKee, Bill Guerinand Manny Legacefrom free agency, and bringing Doug Weightback to St. Louis after a brief (and productive) stopover in Carolina. Weight was again traded in December 2007 to the Anaheim Ducksalong with a minor league player in exchange for Andy McDonald. Davidson is currently attempting to build a strong American base of players for the Blues.
The Rebuilding: Present (2006-)
Following the disappointing 2005–06 season, which saw the Blues with the worst record in the NHL, the new management focused on rebuilding the franchise. At the beginning of the 2007 season, the Blues looked to be competitive in the Central Division. However, injuries plagued the team all season, and the lack of a sniper hampered them as well. Fan support was sluggish during the first half of the campaign, and the end of the calendar year was capped by an 11-game losing streak. On
December 11, 2006, the Blues fired coach Mike Kitchenand replaced him with former Los Angeles Kingscoach Andy Murray. [http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=188117&hubname=] . On January 4, 2007, the Blues had a record of 6–1–3 in their previous 10 games, which was the best in the NHL during that stretch. Despite a healthy 24-point jump from the previous season, the strain of playing in a conference where seven teams finished with more than 100 points kept them out of the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Immediately prior to the 2007 Trade Deadline, the Blues traded several key players, such as
Bill Guerin, Keith Tkachuk, and Dennis Widemanto gain draft picks. (They later re-signed Tkachuk during the offseason.) Brad Boyes, picked up from the Bruins in exchange for Wideman, is the fastest Blues player to reach 40 goals since Brett Hull.
During the offseason, the Blues signed free agent
Paul Kariyato a 3-year contract worth $18 million, re-signed defenceman Barret Jackmanto a one-year contract, lost their captain Dallas Draketo the Detroit Red Wings, and traded prospect Carl Soderbergto the Boston Bruinsin exchange for yet more depth in the goalie crease, Hannu Toivonen.
October 2, 2007the Blues finalized the season starting roster, which included rookies David Perron, Steven Wagner, and Erik Johnson. On October 10, 2007, the Blues introduced a new mascot: Louie.
December 14, 2007the Blues traded Doug Weight, a 38 year old four time All Star Center, to the Anaheim Ducksas part of a package to acquire 30 year old Center Andy McDonald.
As of December 22nd 2007, the Blues telecast on
FSN Midwestwas estimated to be reaching 30,000 households per game. This is up 125% compared to the same time last year.
February 8, 2008it was announced that, after going much of the season without a captain, defenceman Eric Brewer was chosen as the team's 19th captain. [http://blues.nhl.com/team/app?articleid=352757&page=NewsPage&service=page]
The Blues play in the 19,150 capacity
Scottrade Center, where they've played since 1994. Previously the team played in the St. Louis Arena, where the old St. Louis Eaglesplayed, and which the original owners had to buy as a condition of the 1967 NHL expansion.
Like all NHL teams, the Blues updated their jerseys for the 2007–08 season with new
Rbk Edgejerseys. The Blues simplified their design compared to previous jerseys, with only the blue note logo on the front. There were no third jerseys for the 2007–08 season, however, the Blues announced plans for a navy third jersey featuring a new logo. The new logo includes the Gateway Archwith the Blue Note superimposed over it inside a circle with the words "St. Louis" above and "Blues" below. The third jersey was unveiled on September 21, 2008. This jersey is set to debut in the 2008–2009 season. [cite web |author= Pinkert, Chris |url=http://blues.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=382747 |title= Blues Unveil Third Jersey |accessdate=2008-10-09 |publisher= St. Louis Blues |date= September 21, 2008]
Louie is the current mascot of the St. Louis Blues. He was introduced on October 10, 2007 and on November 3, 2007, the fans voted on his name on the Blues website.
The Blues have a tradition of playing an organ rendition of "
When the Saints Go Marching In" before every home game. A foghorn was added around 1990 at the St. Louis Arena.
Ron Baechle, known as the "Towel Man", sits in section 314, row E, seat 13. After every Blues goal Baechle pumps his fist in the air the number of times the Blues have scored, accompanied by counting fans. He then throws a towel into the stands. Baechle has appeared as Towel Man regularly since 1990. [cite web |author= Mallozzi, Vincent M. |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/15/sports/hockey/15cheer.html?_r=1&oref=slogin |title=In St. Louis, the Towel Man Cometh |accessdate=2008-02-13 |publisher= The New York Times |date= October 15, 2006]
A late developing Blues tradition is 5 goal
tacos. Before the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, the Blues advertised tacos for 35 cents at any local Taco Bellthe day following a game in which the Blues scored five or more goals. Games where the Blues score 4 goals are often accompanied by the "We Want Tacos!" chant. Additionally, a series of five lighted boards along the upper deck of the Scottrade Center keep track of the number of goals. Following the lockout the promotion was ended. The tradition was resurrected in a similar promotion during the 2007–2008 season. However, rather than 35 cent tacos, fans may now present their game tickets to receive 1 free taco from any local Taco Bellfollowing a Blues 5 goal game [cite web |publisher= St. Louis Blues |url= http://blues.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=342640 |title= Blues Re-Introduce Popular Taco Promotion |accessdate=2008-10-09 |date= November 8, 2007]
"This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Blues. For the full season-by-season history, see
St. Louis Blues seasons"
"Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes"
:1 As of the
2005–06 NHL season, all games will have a winner; the OTL column includes SOL (Shootout losses).:2004-2005 season cancelled due to lockout.
Al Arbour, 1967–70
Red Berenson, 1970–71
Al Arbour, 1971
*Jim Roberts, 1971–72
Barclay Plager, 1972–76
Red Berenson, 1976
Garry Unger, 1976–77
*Red Berenson, 1977–78
Barry Gibbs, 1978–79
Brian Sutter, 1979–88
Bernie Federko, 1988–89
Rick Meagher, 1989–90
Scott Stevens, 1990–91
Garth Butcher, 1991–92
Brett Hull, 1992–95
Shayne Corson, 1995–96
Wayne Gretzky, 1996
*No captain, 1996–97
Chris Pronger, 1997–2003
Al MacInnis, 2003–04 (2002–03) [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/nhl/blues/2003-09-15-captain_x.htm]
*No captain, 2004–05 (Lockout)
Dallas Drake, 2005–07
*No captain, 2007–08
*Eric Brewer, 2008- "present"
Bernie Federko, C, 1976–89, inducted 2002
Grant Fuhr, G, 1995–99, inducted 2003
Wayne Gretzky, C, 1996, inducted 1999
Glenn Hall, G, 1967–71, inducted 1975
Doug Harvey, D, 1967–69, inducted 1973
Dale Hawerchuk, C, 1995–96, inducted 2001
Guy Lapointe, D, 1981–84, inducted 1993
Al MacInnis, D, 1994–2004, inducted 2007
Dickie Moore, LW, 1967–68, inducted 1974
Joe Mullen, F, 1979–86, inducted 2000
Jacques Plante, G, 1968–70, inducted 1978
Scott Stevens, D, 1990–91, inducted 2007
*Dan Kelly, play-by-play broadcaster, 1968–1989, inducted 1989
Al MacInnis, D, 1994–2005, number retired April 9, 2006
Bob Gassoff, D, 1974–77, number retired October 1, 1977
Barclay Plager, D, 1967–77, number retired March 24, 1981[http://www.stlouisblues.com/news/0607/061204.html]
Brian Sutter, LW, 1976–88, number retired December 30, 1988
Brett Hull, RW, 1987–1998, number retired December 5, 2006
Bernie Federko, RW, 1976–89, number retired March 16, 1991The Blues also honor the NHLs retirement of 99 in honor of Wayne Gretzky
Bob Plager, D, 1967–78, number not officially retired but honored.
Doug Wickenheiser, LW, 1984–87, number honored and unofficially retired
*No number Dan Kelly, Broadcaster, 1968–89, recognized with an honorary shamrock that hangs from the rafters at
First-round draft picks
*1968: Gary Edwards (6th overall)
Gene Carr(4th overall)
Wayne Merrick(9th overall)
*1973: John Davidson (5th overall)
Bernie Federko(7th overall)
*1977: Scott Campbell (9th overall)
Wayne Babych(3rd overall)
Perry Turnbull(2nd overall)
Rick Wilson(12th overall)
Marty Ruff(20th overall)
*1983: Did not participate
Jocelyn Lemieux(10th overall)
Keith Osborne(12th overall)
Rod Brind'Amour(9th overall)
Jason Marshall(9th overall)
Marty Reasoner(14th overall)
Christian Backman(24th overall)
Barrett Jackman(17th overall)
Jeff Taffe(30th overall)
Shawn Belle(30th overall)
Marek Schwarz(17th overall)
T.J. Oshie(24th overall)
Erik Johnson(1st overall) & Patrik Berglund(25th overall)
Lars Eller(13th overall), Ian Cole(18th overall) & David Perron(26th overall)
Alex Pietrangelo(4th overall)
Franchise scoring leaders
These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.
"Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Blues player"
NHL awards and trophies
Calder Memorial Trophy
Barret Jackman: 2002–03 Conn Smythe Trophy
Glenn Hall: 1967–68 Frank J. Selke Trophy
Rick Meagher: 1989–90 James Norris Memorial Trophy
Al MacInnis: 1998–99
Chris Pronger: 1999–2000 King Clancy Memorial Trophy
Kelly Chase: 1997–98 Lester Patrick Trophy
Larry Pleau: 2001–02 Vezina Trophy
Glenn Hall& Jacques Plante: 1968–69 William M. Jennings Trophy
Roman Turek: 1999–2000
Franchise individual records
*Most Goals in a season:
Brett Hull, 86 (1990–91)
*Most Assists in a season:
Adam Oates, 90 (1990–91)
*Most Points in a season:
Brett Hull, 131 (1990–91)
*Most Penalty Minutes in a season:
Bob Gassoff, 306 (1975–76)
*Most Points in a season, defenceman:
Jeff Brown, 78 (1992–93)
*Most Points in a season, rookie: Jorgen Pettersson, 73 (1980–81)
*Most Wins in a season:
Roman Turek, 42 (1999–00)
*Most Shutouts in a season:
Glenn Hall, 8 (1968-69)
*Lowest GAA in a season(min 30 GP): Doug Grant, 1.94 (1979-80)
*Best SVP% in a season(min 30 GP):
Glen Hall, .916 (1970-71)
1967 NHL Expansion
List of NHL players
List of NHL seasons
* [http://blues.nhl.com/ Official website of the St. Louis Blues]
* [http://www.scottradecenter.net/ Scottrade Center]
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