Dear young men who currently wear the St. Louis Blues Uniform,
Hey there. It’s me again! So….what ya been up to?
It’s been over a week since ya’ll made history on Boston ice. It’s been exactly a week since this city threw the party to end all parties in downtown St. Louis. I don’t know about you, but I am still watching celebration and recap videos. Thanks to the internet – there’s no shortage of them.
I just don’t want this vibe to end. I want to ride the excitement for as long as I possibly can. The positive energy in this city is just too much and I want to keep it going forever.
You see, the gift you gave this city was about more than just a championship, a ring, and a really shiny cup or trophy. The majority of us are never going to get a chance to see it in person or touch it – not that we aren’t all hoping to make it happen. And that’s okay because the gift you gave us was so much more than that.
The day after we won game 7, I was walking through the grocery store and it was like everyone was friends with everyone. I had a wonderful chat with the deli clerk about how awesome things were and about the upcoming parade. I walked passed a woman who sneezed, said “bless you” and she thanked me as if I had just saved her first born child.
The morning of the parade, I waited in line for almost 2 hours for a Metrolink train to get to the rally and not a single person in line was griping. One guy was passing out his leftover donuts. A metro employee gave us an update on train status, apologized for the delays and everyone thanked him. People played “Gloria” on their phones. We were all part of the same family.
The energy was amazing.
But it was still so much more than that.
During this entire 2019 Stanley Cup journey, there were so many gifts given to this city that most people just don’t think about, but totally played a part in the positive vibe that blanketed this city.
Let’s start with the increased revenue that flowed into the pockets of hard-working citizens. I’m not talking about your pockets, I’m talking about the pockets of rideshare drivers, bartenders, metro workers, police officers, ushers and concessions workers that worked extra hard and extra hours for each game, including the watch parties at Enterprise Center and Busch Stadium.
And while we are talking about the watch parties, let’s mention the charitable contributions for Blues for Kids and Cardinals Cares which benefited from the watch parties – monies those charities didn’t have in their budgets. And let’s not forget about the dollars donated to the Children’s Hospital in the name of dear Laila Anderson who captured all of our hearts.
Speaking of Laila, what a little bundle of spunk. I can see why she inspires you so. I once sat in a building with 1500 transplant recipients. All I could think was, “I am sitting among 1500 miracles.” I learned that in the grand scheme of things, so much of the drama we focus on doesn’t matter. It seems you all learned that too.
We can also talk about Pat Maroon who took a one year contract that didn’t pay as well so he could be with his son. A reminder to us all that family really does come first. I happened to be super lucky to see Pat Maroon the night before game 3 at a local frozen custard shop with his adorable son. He was just trying to be a dad on a Friday night. A good father. He took photos with his fans, though you could see on his face that he was just trying to be a dad and not a rock star hockey player that night. But you could also see the pride on his young son’s face that his dad was so awesome.
And if we are going to talk about the importance of character, we can talk about Colton Parayko. Talk about a gentle giant. We can start with his relationship with Laila (see above) and leading her to take a photo with the cup and move onto the way he accepts his penalties without acting like a toddler. Also, I can’t help but notice how he defuses a disagreement on the ice like no one else. On several occasions, I saw him grab an opponent during a fight and restrain him in a way that said “nope – this is not civilized. Let’s move on.”
There were lessons in humility and sportsmanship. No one likes a sore loser. We won’t talk about the hand pass, except to say that the unfortunate situation fueled us. But people also don’t really like obnoxious winners. Following game 5, I saw an interview with Vince Dunn where he said: “We didn’t play our best game tonight and we all know that.” I looked at my tv and I said: “but we won?” And then I thought – how awesome is it that we won and they still know that we could have lost and there is room for improvement.
After our loss in Game 6, I saw an interview where Jordan Binnington said: “You’re not going to win every game.” There was no blame for unfair penalties or poor calls on the refs. There was a mention of making mistakes that ended up in the “back of our net.” This was so refreshing. No excuses. Just owning up to what you didn’t do right so you could improve and do better next time.
I didn’t see or hear about our players and coaches throwing things, slamming things, crying about our loss or stolen dreams (though they could have happened – I’m not allowed in the locker room.) Everything I saw in the public eye was so humble. We learn from every experience we go through and I could tell this team knew that.
And finally, we had victory. The cup is ours for the next year. We have made history. Together. This was no one person’s success. O’Reilly scored goals. Binnington stopped them. Berube gave motivational speeches and called you all by nicknames. You showed us all how if we work together with one mission, playing on each other’s strengths and learning from weaknesses, we can accomplish anything. We can make dreams come true.
That’s right. We all have to work together. No I in team. All the things people say are cliche are ACTUALLY TRUE.
And then the parade came. What should have taken an hour, took over two. Because each player wanted to thank every individual they could. You wanted to celebrate with the fans. You didn’t just sit on their cars as I have seen in other cities. You walked the street and signed shirts and hats and pucks. You put babies in the cup. You skipped and cheered.
This wasn’t your party, it was our party. Everyone’s party. And you showed everyone that there is a time for work and a time for play. Sometime’s it’s okay to approach something with the heart of a child. Especially when it comes to realizing a dream that you have had since before you could remember.
It was also visual proof that you all still love this game. Sure, it’s easier to love when you are winning. But something tells me that you all love it all the time. Everything I have mentioned wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t still love the game.
You all know that this is your purpose and why you do what you do. The game. The fans. The way you can impact so many with so little effort. The blessing that is.
So yeah, this all so much deeper than just a cup. I know that not everyone is thinking this deeply about everything. But I do know that everyone is feeling it – even if they can’t put it all into words.
I look around at this city and the impact this adventure has had and I just don’t want it to fade.
It has felt way too good.
And I thank you all for this gift. Like I said. It’s bigger than a cup. It’s even bigger than what I have just put into words. That is why it has taken me so long to write. It’s overwhelming all the levels of awesome this has been.
It’s time to take some time that is just for you. You’ve earned it. Enjoy.
See you soon!
Still a Blues Fan…