The St. Louis Blues have been waiting patiently for everything to go their way as all champions need a little luck. We will just be over here waiting some more.
The St. Louis Blues organization and the loyal fans have been waiting patiently for a Stanley Cup for over 50 years now. Each generation has their moment where you think it is that time. Still, we keep on waiting.
There have been no stories of Babe Ruth like figures or billy goats passed down from father to son like the Chicago Cubs. Nevertheless, it feels like there is a curse upon this team.
The Blues have had their ups and downs, but it seems like that elusive championship is always just a step or two away. There have definitely been years when it was within sight and you might have even had a fingertip on it. It always gets ripped away and the dreams lay dashed on the floor though.
The part that makes you wonder if there truly is a curse is that the Blues have managed to fall short in such epic ways. Sometimes it’s missing out on a draft. Other times it’s players leaving to find glory somewhere else. Still more times yet, it should have been there and the team just did not get it done.
Players Winning Elsewhere.
This might be the biggest one for some people. The Blues have about as loyal an alumni as any team in the NHL. Players loved being here and often settle in St. Louis when the career is over. They win elsewhere though.
Blues history is full of players like this. Geoff Cournall did not win a Cup after leaving St. Louis, but he sure blossomed. Courtnall was already a really good player, but in Vancouver he became a regular 70-plus point scorer. He also went all the way to the Cup final with the Canucks.
The two most famous to leave and do well are Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan. Both went on to championship glory with other teams
Hull may have been he worst example. It was almost understandable, though disappointing, why the team let him go. He was having too many spats with management and his numbers were down. In fact his last season in St. Louis was the only time he scored less than 30 in a full season with the Blues.
Of course, the very next season, he goes on to win a Stanley Cup with Dallas. Adding salt to the wound, Hull scored the game winning goal.
Hull would win another one with the hated Detroit Red Wings. Even at age 37, he ended up scoring 10 playoff goals that season.
Shanahan at least waited to get his championship, though not long. After being traded from the Blues in the summer of 1995, Shanahan went on to win a Cup in 1996-97. He would win two more after that.
The last one stings because it could have and almost should have been different. Scott Stevens is still a wound to me.
The Blues lost Stevens due to the NHL handing him to New Jersey after a tampering charge was put on the Blues for signing Shanahan. Making matters worse, the Blues signed Stevens to an offer sheet, which he signed, in the summer of 1994.
The New Jersey Devils matched it and the Blues were, again, accused and found guilty of tampering. Stevens won his first of three Stanley Cups, that very year after the lockout.
Trades and Drafts Not Working Out
The Blues have tried and tried various different ways to get to the promised land. They tried rebuilding and they tried doing it on the fly. Each have had various reasons they did not work.
The Blues initially tried to rebuild themselves back in the mid-2000’s. They drafted reasonably well, but due to a change in ownership, the veteran presence on the team was gutted to make the sale more palatable.
Due to this, guys were rushed into roles they were not ready for. Names like Backes, Oshie, Perron and more turned into good players, but they never got that chance to learn under anyone’s wing.
The Blues most famous draft blunder might have been in 2006. St. Louis had the first-overall pick. They needed several things, but at the time a defender made sense. Erik Johnson was the consensus choice and seemed like he could be a nice cross between Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis, minus the heavy shot.
Instead, he was a bust with the Blues and has been a decent player with Colorado. The worst part of that selection was the Blues could have had Jonathan Toews. Instead he went to Chicago, became captain and won three Stanley Cups.
As far as the trades go, that list might be too long to go into depth. There is the aforementioned Cournall trade where Ron Caron inexplicably sent away two or three of the team’s best players for a gritty defenseman.
There was also the Ryan Miller trade. The Blues were making a strong push and thought Miller would be their final piece. The pressure of being that guy got to him and neither he nor the team performed well enough in the playoffs and he was gone quicker than he came.
Adam Oates was another player traded away right when the Blues could have been doing something special. He never won the big one, but the Blues have never had an elite level center – excluding Wayne Gretzky – since then.
The Blues always seemed to be losing out. Oates would leave and his replacement, Craig Janney only lasted a few seasons before off-ice issues forced his departure.
St. Louis always just seems to sell at the wrong time or just miss out on something big.
Call it luck, lack of skill or just running out of energy. The Blues have experienced it all in their pursuits.
When St. Louis was an expansion team, they went to three straight Cup finals. Every time, they ran into teams that were not just great, but faced all-time teams. With Montreal, they had names like Esposito, Henri Richard, Beliveau and more. When they lost to Boston, the Bruins had Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito.
Those were not just good players they were facing. They went up against all-time greats. It was just bad luck to have all the expansion teams in one conference, get your hopes up and then crush them like a paper cup under a steel-toed boot.
Speaking of all-time greats, the Blues had an awesome team at the turn of the century. They won the President’s Trophy as the best regular season team in the league. Then, it true Blues fashion, they lost in the first round.
The 2015-16 Blues looked they were poised to make their run. They failed to dispatch early-round opponents though and ran out of gas against the San Jose Sharks in the conference finals.
St. Louis had a team that could win in 1995-96. The team had Hull, Gretzky, Courtnall, MacInnis and more. Howver, Nick bleeping Kypreos ran Grant Fuhr and injured his knee. The Blues ran into the future dynasty of the Red Wings with only Jon Casey to try and save them.
Adding insult to injury, Mike Keenan found a way to piss off – apologies for the language – the greatest hockey player ever. So, instead of a full season of Hull and Gretzky together, Wayne went off to New York and the Blues went nowhere.
In 2000-01, the Blues ran into the goalie god of Patrick Roy. In 1985-86, they ran into Cup runners up in Calgary.
It just never seems to be the Blues time. There is always someone that gets hotter or has better players or is in their prime when the Blues are on the cusp or their window is just closing.
As fans, we try to rationalize it and say those teams were just better. However, it’s hard not to feel like there is some otherworldly force at work.
The Blues are the sporting world’s prime example of always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
We will keep hoping that one year will be our year. Surely it has to happen eventually, right?