Wade Redden will wear #6 for the Blues this season, and he’ll be on the ice tonight paired with Alex Pietrangelo as the team comes home to take on the Nashville Predators. It will be Redden’s first NHL action since April 11, 2010, and many Blues fans may not be familiar with Redden because he’s spent his career in the Eastern Conference with the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers. Pietrangelo had a shaky game Tuesday night in Chicago and I believe Redden’s veteran smarts will help settle things down on the Blues’ defense.
For most of us here in St. Louis, #6 probably evokes memories of baseball and Stan “The Man” Musial, who passed away last weekend and will be laid to rest this Saturday. Blues fans though, might also remember another #6, one who only breezed through town in terms of how long he spent with the team, but a #6 that played a key role in the history of the franchise.
Phil Housley is, of course, the #6 I’m talking about. Phil The Thrill, a D-man with soft hands and swift skates who patrolled the blue line as arguably one of the NHL’s premiere defensemen over a 21 season career in which he was voted an All-Star seven times and scored the second most points by an American born player in history. Housley retired after the 2002-2003 season, but not before winning a Silver Medal with Team USA at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He was elected to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004 and is currently eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Housley also finished his fine career having played more games than anyone else in history without ever winning the Stanley Cup: 1,495. In fact, he set a record for most games played by an American born player, a record he held for almost seven years until it was broken by Chris Chelios in 2006. Only 26 of those games came wearing the Bluenote, as #6 spent part of the 1993-1994 season in St. Louis. What is, for Blues fans, perhaps most memorable about Phil Housley is that on July 4, 1994, he was traded to the Calgary Flames, bringing one of the biggest names in St. Louis Blues history to town: Al MacInnis.
As a hockey fan, I’d been aware of Phil Housley long before he became a Blue, and I had the pleasure of meeting him and getting an autograph from him after a game on a cold night outside the Old Barn on Oakland Avenue. He was a gentleman and while most of St. Louis didn’t get time to know him, Blues fans should never forget him.
Hockey fans had the chance to see Housley coaching Team USA this year to the gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Ufa, Russia. Here’s hoping Wade Redden can bring some magic back to #6 for the Blues.
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!