St. Louis Blues
St. Louis is a city in Missouri, located on the westbank of the Mississippi River, and home to the St. Louis Blues, an NHL team who compete in the Central Division of the Western Conference. The Blues play their home games at the Enterprise Center.
The Blues were founded and entered into the NHL during its six team expansion in 1967, where the league expanded from six to 12 teams. Originally, the St. Louis Blues played their home games at the 15,000 capacity St. Louis Arena. However in 1994, the time came to move downtown and the team started a new chapter with a new 19,150 seat stadium at the Enterprise Center.
The 2019/20 regular season was a successful one for the Blues, who finished as Central Division Champions when the season was stopped prematurely on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Blues failed to continue their strong play into the playoffs, and they were beaten by the upstart Vancouver Canucks in the first round.
This past season, O’ Reilly led the team in points with 61, thanks to an impressive team-leading 49 assists. David Perron and Brayden Schenn had the highest goals with 25 apiece, closely followed by Jaden Shwartz with 22. The Blues had extremely balanced scoring throughout the regular season.
The franchise is owned by SLB Acquisition Holdings LLC consortium, with Tom Stillman as chairman and governor. Stillman is a lifelong hockey fan and became chairman of the Blues in May 2012. In 2010, Doug Armstrong was appointed as the general manager, having previously served as in the same role for the Dallas Stars.
In 2013, Armstrong was awarded GM of the year and was runner up in 2019. 17 year NHL vet Craig Berube is the head coach for the Blues. With plenty of experience under his belt, he was named interim coach for the Blues at the end of 2018. Following the Stanley Cup Final win (the first in the franchise’s history) in 2019, he signed a three year contract on June 24th, 2019.
Unquestionably one of the best trades in Blues history is when they acquired Brett Hull and Steve Bozek from the Calgary Flames in return for Rob Ramage and Rick Wamsley. Brett Hull would go down in St. Louis Blues history to become their second all-time leading points scorer with 936 points, winning the Hart Memorial Trophy in 1991 (when he scored 86 goals, the second most in league history) along the way.
In February 1996, Wayne Gretzky was traded to the Blues from the Los Angeles Kings for Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson and two draft picks. Gretzky’s time at the Blues was brief, and after scoring 37 points in 31 games the Blues would lose to the Detroit Red Wings in the semi-finals of the Western Conference. In July of 1996, Gretzky joined the New York Rangers, signing an $8 million, 2-year contract.
The Blues have an excellent playoff qualification record, securing a place in the postseason in 43 of their 52 seasons in the NHL. However, until recently they hadn’t managed to secure a Stanley Cup. That all changed in 2019 when the St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 to win the cup in their fourth appearance in the final, finally getting the monkey off their back. Ryan O’Reilly won the Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
Although not necessarily the most famous player in Blues history, Bernie Federko goes down as the best. Federko had an incredible career, leading the franchise in games played with 927, points scored with 1,073, and assists with 721. Federko truly was a leader for the Blues, guiding them through difficult periods. His stats and performances meant that when he retired in 1991, the Blues retired his number 24 jersey. Federko joined the Hockey Hall of Fame 11 years later in 2002.
Defensemen Chris Pronger was another hugely famous and successful St. Louis Blues player. Pronger’s most successful season came in 1999-2000, when he was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy following a 62 point season and a +52 rating. The St. Louis Blues announced recently that during the 2020/21 season Pronger’s No. 44 jersey would be retired, becoming the eighth retired number in the franchises’ history.
Brett Hull and Wayne Gretzky are the most famous players in Blues history, and for good reason. Between 1989 and 1992, Hull scored 228 goals which was the second-highest three-season goals total, bested only by Wayne Gretzky with 250. Over his career Hull was an All-Star on eight different occasions, elevating his profile and writing himself in the history books as the greatest goal scorer in Blues history, and one of the best of all time. Although Gretzky’s time at the Blues was short lived, he is certainly the most famous player to wear the blue note. Gretzky’s 60 official records are unrivalled in the history of the sport.