A Look Back at the Decade that Led to The Blues Winning the Stanley Cup
Alexander Steen hoists the Stanley Cup in June 2019 after the Blues defeated Boston in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final. (Winslow Townson/USA Today photo via Reuters)
As the end of 2019 approaches, perhaps some like to reflect on their year and think back about what they could have done better. Some may even reflect on events that changed them personally or professionally. Although it is the end of the year, as Blues fans, it is the end of a decade. A decade filled with a multitude of happenings surrounding this team. While the end of this season will officially be the actual end of the decade in which I am speaking, I ask you to indulge me for a few moments.
There is no shame in taking a trip back to re-visit all that has taken shape since 2010. As I reflect on the last ten years of this team (9 and a half to be exact), it would only be appropriate to begin on a low note. During the 2010-2011 season, I sat next to my beloved girlfriend at the time (now amazing wife) on the couch as we quickly scored a pair of tickets on Craigslist for a Blues game for $12. Tickets at that price were a steal, and we took advantage of it regularly during those lean times for this team.
Below is a breakdown covering the last decade our team has been through only to come to the conclusion in which we all celebrated together as a fan base. See, it is the little things that will pop up and make us think back to “what once was” with this team. It is interesting to look back on ten years of this team to see how we have evolved.
2010-2011 Team Record: 38-33-11 Coach: Davis Payne
Doug Armstrong replaces Larry Pleau as General Manager. The “kid line” features T.J. Oshie, Eric Brewer, David Backes, Alexander Steen, Erik Johnson, and veteran Barret Jackman as our promise to the city. That season was riddled with injuries as T.J. Oshie broke his ankle in a struggle against Columbus when a player landed on him. Injuries continued as Andy McDonald, Cam Janssen, Carlo Colaiacovo, and David Perron succumbed to injuries as well. Ultimately, the team exited the regular season without a playoff appearance.
2011-2012 Team Record: 49-22-11 Coach: Davis Payne/Ken Hitchcock
Davis Payne was relieved of his duties, and Ken Hitchcock arrived to change the direction of the team. This Blues roster broke the NHL record for the least amount of goals scored against only allowing 155 goals. Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak won the Jennings Trophy for best tandem goalie effort, and the Blues made the playoffs. St. Louis bested the San Jose Sharks 4 games to 1 with their first series win since 2002.
That season my fiance’ and I went to probably 20 home games. This was THE SEASON we were going to win The Cup. Unfortunately, our team ran into the buzz saw of the L.A. Kings and were swept in 4 games. As the next season arrived, I was still invigorated, thinking there was a new life in this core of players.
2012-2013 Team Record: 29-17-2 (Lockout Season) Coach: Ken Hitchcock
The lockout genuinely put a damper on this season. However, fans in St. Louis were gifted with the debut of Vladimir Tarasenko, who began his career with two goals on two shots in a 6-0 win against Detroit.
This same year fans were gifted with rookie goaltender Jake Allen as he recorded his first shutout against the Phoenix Coyotes in March. GM Doug Armstrong also pulled some strings in acquiring Jay Bouwmeester from the Calgary Flames to bolster our defense. Ultimately, the team fell in 6 games to the L.A. Kings once more. The highlight of the playoff series was undoubtedly the shorthanded OT goal by Alexander Steen.
2013-2014 Team Record: 52-23-7 Coach: Ken Hitchcock
This season saw a lot of moving pieces as The Winter Olympics overshadowed the NHL. David Backes, T.J. Oshie, and Kevin Shattenkirk represented our club in Sochi. While we do not need to re-hash Oshie’s heroics in the Olympics, it still resonates as nothing less than stunning. In February, Doug Armstrong pulled a power move that sent Chris Stewart and Jaroslav Halak to the Buffalo Sabres for Steve Ott and Ryan Miller.
Once this trade took place, I KNEW this was the year! This move by Armstrong unquestionably cemented his reputation as being bold to capture The Cup. But, by the last game of the season, our team had a slew of injuries. T.J. Oshie, David Backes, Vladimir Sobotka, Derek Roy, Brenden Morrow, and Vladimir Tarasenko were off the ice with ailments. We folded in 6 games against the powerhouse Blackhawks in the first round. Facing the Blackhawks, this round is known as the “Wakey Wakey Backes,” series. For those not familiar with the phrase, I’m confident that phrase on YouTube will garner a lot of videos.
That series was disappointing. It surely felt as though we had what it took to win. I remember sitting at a Hooters with my Blues jersey on as tears of disappointment streamed down my face. As a fan, I had put so much time into that season I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t get over the hump.
2014-2015 Team Record: 51-24-7 Coach: Ken Hitchcock
This season was the easiest to recap as the team crushed it to become Central Division Champs. The Blues lost to the Minnesota Wild in 6 games after Brian Elliot signed a 3-year extension earlier in the season.
2015-2016 Team Record: 49-24-9 Coach: Ken Hitchcock
The team’s chemistry in the Hitchcock era was waning, but there was still some staunch, hard-nosed hockey left in his tenure. The team acquired Troy Brouwer, and this season brought on all the feelings in the playoffs. Troy Brouwer’s Game 7 goal propelled them beyond the Chicago Blackhawks and exorcised the demons. Finally, we had beaten the Hawks and could make a statement! This team also dug their heels in against a tough opponent in the Dallas Stars and finished them off in 7 games as well. San Jose proved to be too much as we exited in the 3rd round. Although disappointed, the fan base was more than pleased with our showing in the playoffs.
2016-2017 Team Record: 46-29-7 Coach: Ken Hitchcock/Mike Yeo
There was an announcement that Mike Yeo would replace Ken Hitchcock as Head Coach once the season concluded. During this season, the team lost Troy Brouwer to the Calgary Flames, Steve Ott to the Detroit Red Wings, and Captain David Backes to the Boston Bruins. The Blues also retired #5 Bob Plager‘s jersey in an emotional ceremony that many in attendance will never forget. The NHL Winter Classic held its annual game in Busch Stadium as the Blues once again beat the BlackHawks for good measure. The Blackhawks had lost a Winter Classic for the third time.
The Winter Classic was undoubtedly something that will resonate with me forever. Sitting in Busch Stadium on January 2nd with dense fog and mild temperatures surrounding us, it was difficult to imagine that a nation of hockey fans was glued to their screens watching the St. Louis Blues for a nationally televised event. Although the outcome of the game was great, our team wasn’t quite where it needed to be just yet. Losing to the Nashville Predators in the 2nd round sent us back to the drawing board yet again.
2017-2018 Team Record: 44-32-6 Coach: Mike Yeo
This season saw the team bring back Steve Ott as an Assistant Coach as well as lose David Perron to the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL expansion draft. The team also signed a five year deal with the AHL San Antonio Rampage. We missed the playoffs on the last game of the season that year.
I was sitting in a Hibachi Steakhouse watching a team that only needed to win or tie to get into the playoffs. Against the Colorado Avalanche, we looked miserable, and so did our play as the Avs crept into the playoffs with a 5-2 win over us. I was incensed. Sickened by the team’s play, I didn’t want to even think about the Blues….until October.
2018-2019 Team Record: 45-28-9 Coach: Mike Yeo/Craig Berube
This season needs no recap. If you are still reading, you know the outcome. All hands were on deck. The ultimate goal of winning The Stanley Cup was achieved.
Early on, I referenced finding a pair of cheap seats for $12 in the 2010-2011 season. After almost ten years of hard work and perseverance with this organization, I can see those same mezzanine seats going for $105 apiece. Paying that price seems like a lot to even get in the door. However, it has taken ten years to make us a relevant part of the conversation when it comes to Cup Contenders. This team has no quit in it, and the sky is the limit. I’ll take it while I can get it. Indeed, there are pieces I am sure I have missed, but the idea is that we stood at the bottom of the mountain for a long time. Once on top, it’s refreshing to look back on the work that has been accomplished.
I am grateful for the players and fans who have stuck with this team over the last decade. Think about it. Ten years ago, a parade sounded like a pipe dream. Today, it seems like it could happen again in June….perhaps. Thank you for indulging me and taking the time to read. Take care of yourselves and each other.