Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hockey Orphan: Laura from Wazzupwitchu on the St. Louis Blues

Logo by: Earl Sleek. You're a beast, Sleek!

(Make sure to follow Laura's take on the red-hot St. Louis Blues at Wazzupwitchu. Thanks a bunch, Laura!)

Imagine, if you will, a bad soap opera. My character barely misses being written off of the show and awakens, dazed and confused, in an Atlanta hospital, not knowing how she got there or where she came from.

Really, only one part of that horror story is true (not the contract negs but the being in Atlanta part), and the thought of being hockey-homeless is just too much for me to bear. But if my memory were tragically erased and I forgot every last awesome moment of my childhood that St. Louis Blues hockey gave me, I'd still be in love with this team. Let me explain:

1) Fun. These boys are just a blast to watch. There is no team in the league right now who plays a full 60 minutes as hard, fast, and hungry as they do. No checking out for a couple periods, hoping to recoup their losses in the 3rd. No namby-pamby Eastern Conference style speed and dump and chase. They hit, they score amazing goals, they make the saves that need to be made. Part of this fun is...

2) The Kid Line. Perron/Berglund/Oshie. There is NOTHING these guys can't do. TJ is currently the most talked about rookie in the league right now (at least according to Puck Daddy) because he's not scared. He does what he needs to do. He'll lay out another team's captain. He'll make the slick assist. He can and WILL score a goal that'll have women for miles wanting his children. Berglund has proven clutch, and Perron has responded to his stint in Andy Murray's doghouse by playing at a furious pace.

3) Goaltending. Manny Legace's season came to an unfortunate early end, but Chris Mason seems to be on a little bit of a roll. And when I mean little bit I mean holy tear. The most impressive part, aside from the GAA and SV% he's been putting up since January, is that he's started every game since February 3rd. No break, no "I'm tired... I think I need a rest..." He just does it, and he loves it. Every time someone asks him if he's tired, he shrugs it off like it's the dumbest question he's ever heard. There is no prima-donna goaltender here.

4) Tenaciousness. The 10,000 and a half injuries this season - some weird, some not - have cost the Blues the third most manpower games in the league this season. It looked like they were catching up to us, and then bit by bit, people started coming back. Even without Eric Brewer, Erik Johnson, and Paul Kariya, we still have a solid offensive and defensive system. Thank you, Andy Murray. He needs to get the Jack Adams this year. Honestly.

5) Class. This is probably the most important thing to me. You can own 100 Cup rings, and if you don't have class and history, you're not a great hockey club. The Blues have it. Look at their rafters. Yes, they've retired the numbers of some of the greatest players in the game. But they don't just have retired numbers up there - they have honored numbers. Doug Wickenheiser - honored not necessarily for his play nor for the fact that he retired a Blue - he played for 3 teams after them. But he was honored for what he brought to the team as a player in the form of character, and that character continues in the Fourteen Fund. Bob Plager's banner hangs too. He was an integral part of the Blues in the 1960s and 1970s along with his brothers, and he too is recognized for what he brought to the team as a character player - as a team guy.

A more recent display of class can be found on St. Louis Game Time - a story I posted about one of my friends, some photos, a goal, and a very happy Walt. My friend's a Thrashers fan [as was I as well as a Blues fan] before this nasty knock on my head that left me teamless), but he was blown away by the courtesy shown to him by this hockey team 900 miles away - a team that took the time out to call a fan of another club and say thank you.

Add up everything I mentioned here, and I could live in Outer Mongolia as a yak herder and still love this team. As it stands, I just live in Atlanta, I don't have amnesia, and I will never forget who my team is. Thank God for small miracles.

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