The St. Louis Blues have a rich history even if it is not as long as other franchises around the NHL. Unfortunately, they lost one of their original members.
The St. Louis Blues have plenty of players that will go down as some of their all-time greats. Noel Picard might not jump to everyone’s mind when asked about their top picks, but he was a valued member of the team.
For many, the original members of the Blues have a special place in the team’s history. For others who are not historians of the game, they may not even have heard of Picard before.
By today’s standards, Picard would not have stood out very well. He did not even make the NHL until he was 26 years old.
On top of that, he only had 12 goals in his entire NHL career. Those are not the kind of stats that get remembered by today’s numbers geeks – no offense intended by that terminology.
Picard was an old-school type of player. He was a defender and that is what he did – defend.
During the Blues’ runs to the Stanley Cup Final, each of which Picard was a member of, he averaged over 100 penalty minutes. He might not have been the toughest guy on St. Louis, but he was not going to be labeled as a pushover either.
His best season, from a pure numbers standpoint, came in 1968-69. He scored five goals, had 24 points, was a plus-19 for the regular season and took 136 shots. In the playoffs that season, he added another goal and five assists.
If nothing else speaks to Picard’s talents, the fact that he started his career in Montreal should tell you something about him. Even if it was only for one season, the Canadiens did not hand out charity spots on their roster.
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While he likely still cherished the ride, Picard sadly had little to do with his only championship. He played in 16 regular season games and three playoff games when the Canadiens won that season. Playing six years in St. Louis and his final 41 games with the then Atlanta Flames obviously never saw Picard lift the Cup again.
Again, Picard won’t go down as flashy but that’s not the era he played in. He was a defender and asked to do just that. He helped his team immensely though.
Picard was very popular in the locker room. Former teammate and Blues great, Bob Plager, had several great things to say about his friend on the Blues website.
“He made a lot of us better players and our success going into the playoffs that year, he was a big, big part of us being successful. I know he made a better player out of me,” Plager said. “When I played and my partner was Noel Picard, I was 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. When he left our hockey team after 1973, all of a sudden I was 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds.”
Sadly, Picard was suffering with cancer for a very long time, so while incredibly sad, it may almost come at as a relief for those that knew him. “He had been sick for quite awhile now,” Plager continued on that personally written article. “A long time ago, they didn’t give him much time. But Noel was tough, so he stuck around a lot longer than anybody probably thought he would.”
Not the way we want our heroes and stars to go, but that shows how tough he was. Picard just kept gutting it out.
“The people in this city – everybody knew Noel Picard, not only as a hockey player, but he did radio and color commentary, too. He also owned a bar down in Cuba, MO. Everybody in this city from those days will have a Noel Picard story. He was around the city, everybody loved him and everybody talked about him. He fit in with everybody. He could go out and he’d drink a beer and if you were on the street and didn’t have money for a beer, he brought you in and he bought you one.
That’s how Noel was.
When he came to St. Louis, me and him hit it off. He was my brother’s caretaker. You didn’t touch my brother, you didn’t go against my brother, he loved my brother and he took care of him. He was not only my teammate, but he was my roommate and he was my best friend.”
Perhaps there is no better way to honor him than with that comment made by Plager that summed up that Picard was more than just hockey here in St. Louis.