The greatest trades in St. Louis Blues history are the ones that shaped the franchise for years to come. Some trades brought legends to St. Louis for short stints, but the truly great trades brought players who would become legends.
During the Blues first few seasons they were led by aging players who best days were behind them. Still able to compete, the Blues managed to make the cup finals on more than one occasion but always falling short. The
1970’s would see the Blues go through changes to become to a very different team. New leaders would emerge and the team would soon have legends of its own.
In 1971 the Detroit Red Wings were having more than their fair share of troubles. Led by Ned Harkness, the Red Wings were a team that held on strong to tradition and had issues with moving forward. Harkness was a similar coach to that of Mike Keenan in his approach and demands. It was in 1971 that Harkness demanded that all of his players adhere to what he believed to be appropriate and get crew cuts, banning long hair.
Garry Unger was one player who refused to cut his hair, which he was just as well known for as his playing abilities, and as such was shipped to the St. Louis Blues in a four player swap. Red Berenson was the big name for St. Louis that was sent to Detroit, and it couldn’t have happened at any better time in his career.
After the trade, Berenson would put up some decent numbers in Detroit for a couple seasons, but, given his age, he was close to the end of his career. The other players in the trade would become solid players, but never names that would amount to much else. Unger on the other hand would go on to become Mr. St. Louis Blue.
The number 7 is very important to the Blues, but the man who made it infamous was Garry Unger. From 1971-1979 Unger scored 292 goals (4th best in club history) and 283 assists (6th best in club history) in 662 games (4th most in club history). That is 575 points (4th best in club history) in just 662 games. While he was not quite a point-per-game player, Unger was a super star indeed. He scored at least 30 goals each season in the note and never missed a game. He became the face of the franchise and a leader the team was happy to follow. Among the above club records, Unger is also tied for third most hat tricks in a Blue Note with 7, tied in third for game winning goals with 40, first in game tying goals with 19, and fifth in power play goals with 86. These club records are current and set the bar high for young players who are signing on with the Blues.
Although Unger would leave St. Louis to sign with the Atlanta Flames in 1979-80, Unger managed to capture an entire generation of Blues fans. His name is still mentioned by fans when thinking of the all-time great Blues and his name will never fade. Although his number has never made it to the rafters, the Blues have honored him in many ways.
That trade on February 6, 1971 is one of the greatest trades in Blues history. It managed to shape the image of the franchise and gave St. Louis a true star.
We will be focusing on more of the St. Louis Blues best trades in history from time to time so if there is one that you would like us to discuss please let us know. For now, let’s hope the lockout is in its final hour so we can see how other of the Blues trades will work out for their future. That all for now Blues fans, and as always, LET’S GO BLUES!