We’ve come to it. The list of the best St. Louis Blues to wear each jersey number has dwindled down to its end.
It’s been a long journey as a writer, but we come to the end of it at last. Several lists long, covering years of St. Louis Blues history.
Now, we reach the final ten in the top guys to wear each jersey. Some of the toughest decisions reside in this list. Take a look.
10. Wayne Babych
I was a little surprised at the overall lack of quality choices for number 10. That’s to take nothing away from those that wore it, but I’m used to soccer where 10 is THE number.
In the end, Wayne Babych isn’t a bad choice no matter the competition. He spent six of his nine NHL seasons with the Blues.
Babych scored 345 points in 396 games with St. Louis. That’s just a shade under a point per game.
Babych played right away after being drafted by the Blues in the 1978 NHL Draft. He made an immediate impact with a 63 point season in his rookie year. He scored 54 goals and 96 points in his third year.
Babych was a superstar in St. Louis and given a big contract. Then his career took a downward spiral.
He suffered a freak rotator cuff injury when a linesman tried to grab his arm just as he was about to throw a punch during a fight. Babych never fully recovered.
Babych continued to have odd injuries the rest of his career, even after leaving St. Louis. It was a sad end to what was a promising career.
He could have been one of the best to ever suit up for the Blues, full stop. Instead, he was an extremely good player who has to settle for being the best to wear the number 10 in a bluenote.
9. Frank St. Marseille, Red Berenson
I did my best to not include multiple names for most of the numbers. I just couldn’t justify not including Red Berenson since I’m not picking him for 7.
For his part, Frank St. Marseille wore only the number 9. Berenson wore 7 for the first stage of his Blues career and switched to 9 when he returned later.
St. Marseille didn’t do anything flashy. He wasn’t sitting in the box a lot, nor did he put up gaudy point totals per season.
Still, he was a leader. When some of the older players started going elsewhere or retiring, he took up the captaincy for the Blues.
In the end, he played six seasons for St. Louis and was a consistent performer. He had three straight 50-plus point seasons and ended with 257 points with the Blues in that time.
There’s no denying what kind of player Berenson was though. Even if we only consider his time wearing the number 9, he still had 165 points out of his 412 scored with the Blues.
Even in his late 30’s he put up solid years. That included 31 points in half a year and then 47, 49 and 38 point seasons before hanging them up.
Berenson may have gone down as the best to wear another number if he was not traded for a certain guy that took over the number and the spot.
8. Barclay Plager
The St. Louis Blues seemed to gravitate toward family pairings over the years. None may be more synonymous with the Blues than the Plagers.
Taken from us all too soon, Barclay Plager still managed to make his mark in St. Louis. He didn’t put up the unfathomable numbers of Bobby Orr, but for the time period Plager’s offensive numbers were quite respectable for a defender.
Until his last full season, he never scored fewer than 20 points in a season. He was a force on the blueline as well.
As with his brothers, he was someone you didn’t want to mess with or be around if you messed with his teammates. Barclay averaged almost 112 penalty minutes over the course of his career.
Plager’s number was retired in March of 1981. Sadly, the next time he was honored was three days after his death as there was a moment of silence at the NHL All-Star game, held in St. Louis in 1988.
7. Garry Unger
This one was a tough choice on the surface. If you go by name recognition alone, then Berenson is your man.
He had 247 points in jersey number 7 alone and 412 for the Blues overall. Then again, if you’re going on career numbers, you have to go with Keith Tkachuk.
The man they nicknamed Walt, scored 538 goals and 1065 points in his illustrious career. Much of that came with Winnipeg/Phoenix though. Tkachuk still scored 208 goals and 427 points in St. Louis.
If you’re focusing only on time spent with the Blues, then you can’t pick against Garry Unger.
Unger was grought in at the cost of Berenson. At first the points were a wash, but then Unger caught fire as age caught up with Berenson just a bit.
Unger was a machine too. He set a then NHL record by playing in 914 consecutive games. He did not miss more than a handful of games in any season until he was 34.
When Unger first joined the Blues, four of his first five seasons were scoring 70 or more points. Three of those were in the 80’s.
His point totals dropped as he approached and reached age 30. However, he never scored fewer than 30 goals in any full season with St. Louis.
6. Larry Patey
Larry Patey didn’t put up a bunch of numbers. He didn’t highlight goals or fly down the ice, setting up his teammates.
What he did do was last. Patey had longevity.
He played in nine seasons with the Blues out of 12 in his NHL career. Patey was no slouch though.
During his time in the gateway city, he scored 123 goals and had 259 points. Not Hall of Fame numbers, but there are plenty of players both with the Blues and throughout the league that never approached that.
You don’t last in the NHL if you don’t provide value. Patey did that.
He gave his all to the game and to the Blues.
5. Bob Plager
I honestly didn’t know how to pick this one. I’ve come up with decent reasons for not choosing others, but there wasn’t that click moment here.
If we base it on pure points, then Rob Ramage is your man. Rammer played in six seasons with the Blues and put up almost 300 points from the blueline.
If you base it on longevity, then Barret Jackman is your guy. Despite the fact he was widely panned by Blues fans, especially at the end of his time here, Jackman played in 803 games in 13 seasons and scored 181 points. He was also voted rookie of the year with the Calder Trophy.
If you’re looking for someone that has managed to become a staple in the community, then look no further than Bob Plager.
Bob Plager didn’t put up consistent offensive numbers like his brother. He wasn’t a constant resident in the sin bin either. Plager was a stalwart on the blueline though.
His job was to limit the chances on his goaltender and clear the front and that’s what he did.
In the end, it just feels wrong to pick against Plager. He’s just done too much for the franchise.
Each of the other names did some great things for the Blues. Plager, as a name, is just a cut above though.
4. Eric Brewer
This one was a bit of a surprise. Nothing against Eric Brewer, it just seemed like there would have been players to accomplish more.
Not so. Brewer played six seasons in St. Louis and was the captain for half of that time.
Not known for his offense, Brewer only scored 95 points in his Blues career. Part of that had to do with health though.
In his six seasons, he only even approached a full year twice. That’s nothing he had control over, but it was just one of those things.
Most of Brewer’s problem had to do with who he was traded for. The Blues were blowing up their team and sent away Chris Pronger in exchange for Brewer.
Due to his relative lack of offense coupled with that particular trade, Brewer never stood a chance with the fans. Brewer was followed by the injury bug everywhere else and last played for Toronto.
His time in St. Louis was relatively brief and rocky. However, that does not take away from his talents.
He was a leader on some really rough Blues teams and he never threw anyone under the bus. He was a consummate professional and worthy of the C.
3. Bob Gassoff
Bob Gassoff was with the team for such a short period of time, yet he had such promise. It’s hard to tell how good he could have been since he was not an offensive defender and I was not alive when he played.
Even so, the Blues thought enough of him after three full seasons and four total to retire his number. Gassoff was killed in a motorcycle accident on Unger’s property.
Gassoff was not someone to be messed with. He averaged 260 penalty minutes in his three full seasons with the Blues.
He scored six goals and 24 points in his final season with the team. The accident was a sad end to what could have been a fruitful career. The team immediately retired his jersey on October 1, 1977.
2. Al MacInnis
In terms of retired numbers there might be arguments against Gassoff. Al MacInnis left no doubt that he was the only choice for number 2.
MacInnis played for 23 seasons and spend 10 with the Blues. If it wasn’t for age and injury, MacInnis’ totals with the Blues would have been higher, but he still accomplished a lot with the team.
In a decade he scored 127 goals and 452 points. That’s impressive for most careers and that was just what he did with St. Louis, let alone his stats in Calgary.
MacInnis helped lead the team to the Presidents Trophy during the 1999-2000 season. He was an integral part of the team that went to the Western Conference Finals the very next year.
The man was a force to be dealt with, even though he wasn’t known for his physicality. He almost detroyed a goaltender’s manhood with his blistering shot for crying out loud.
The sad thing is MacInnis was forced into retirement. An eye injury derailed his career and he never felt comfortable coming back.
As with any man, age would have crept up on MacInnis eventually, but if not for the eye injury he was still going strong at 39. He had 16 goals and 68 points that year.
The only way MacInnis could have been any better was if he spent his entire career in St. Louis. The man won the Norris, the Smythe, was a 12-time All-Star and was eventually voted into the Hall of Fame.
Even more telling of his connection to St. Louis was his decision to stay when he was done. He currently works in the Blues’ front office in addition to coaching local youth players – he coached the St. Louis Junior AAA Blues to a 73–3–2 record and his son was eventually drafted in 2014.
The Blues retired his jersey on April 9, 2006.
1. Brian Elliott
This one, sadly, was a tough decision when it should not be. I’ll be up front by saying I was just never a big Brian Elliott guy. However, on the surface, the numbers hold up.
If we go by career, then Glenn Hall gets the choice. He helped take the Blues to all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, he split time with Jacques Plante and only spent parts of three seasons here. Additionally, he was only slightly over .500.
If you go by who was a pure starter and won, then Mike Liut is the man. He won 151 games with the Blues in six seasons.
However, his numbers are pretty bad. Hockey Reference doesn’t have save percentages before 1983, but Liut never had a percentage of .900 or above with St. Louis and averaged 3.58 goals per game allowed.
He got the job done, but it’s hard to reward a guy who let in somewhat close to four goals a game.
In the end, Elliott had the better numbers. He had fewer wins than Liut, but a better winning percentage with a record of 104-46-16.
Elliott played in fewer games because he was always sharing time, but he also allowed almost three-times fewer goals. Moose had a goals allowed under 2.00 twice in St. Louis, averaged 2.01 overall and kept a .925 save percentage.
Personally, I still would not pick Elliott over some of the other names the Blues have had in their entire goaltending history. However, this is simply a list of who performed best for the Blues in the jersey number. In the end, Elliott did just that.
So, there you have it. The best St. Louis Blues to wear each jersey number in their history.
It was quite the journey researching and writing these lists and I hope you enjoyed them. Which of your favorites were overlooked?
Let us know in the comments and thanks for reading.