St. Louis Blues fans have waited a very long time for what is about to happen over the next few weeks. Now, those fans hope the team can end their Bobby Orr nightmare.
The St. Louis Blues are in the Stanley Cup Final. It still sounds strange to say and even stranger to type/read.
Of course, fate would pit them against the Boston Bruins, the team they faced the last time they were in this spot. The Chicago Blackhawks were vanquished en route to the 2016 Western Conference Final. The Detroit Red Wings have been gone long enough to have the rivalry only be a memory to some now.
So, who else could it be but Boston? Any team from the Eastern Conference would have been tough, but the Blues have more chances to exorcise the franchise’s demons, most notably the memory of Bobby Orr.
In the pantheon of sports, there are three poses that stand above the rest. In the NBA, there is Jerry West as the league’s logo. Michael Jordan’s jump man logo may outlast the memory of his greatness as an actual player.
Then, in the NHL, as great as Wayne Gretzky was, the lasting picture for most with even a passing interest in hockey is that of Orr flying through the air. It truly was an iconic moment. For those of us living in St. Louis or just cheering this hockey franchise, it is a painful reminder.
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Now, for those Boston fans that have clicked here, you are free to leave if you wish. This is not an Orr bash fest or really even anything against the Bruins. It is the idea that the universe has come together to give the Blues an opportunity for their fans to have fresh memories, instead of being remembered a different way.
The truth is most fans reading this were not alive when Game 4 of the final against Boston took place. Some that were gave up long ago, losing the faith after decades of torment. Those that have lingered on continue to hope against hope, even when things were the bleakest.
As monumental as that Orr goal and photograph became for Boston and the league, it signaled the long, slow spiral for the Blues. Never again, until May 27, 2019, did the Blues make the final. Even the times they returned to the conference finals were so limited you could count them on one hand.
Thus, from the national perspective, the Orr moment became what the Blues were most known for and most people probably have no clue that goal came against St. Louis. There is a statue of it outside the current incarnation of the Boston Garden and I’d bet your average Bruins fan did not know the team that came against. How Blues can you get?
I was not even a thought in my parents’ minds at that stage of their lives and I still cringe every time I see the video. I respect it for what it was – a highlight moment for one of the best players ever to lace up skates – but seeing it go past Glenn Hall each time and Noel Picard lifting the stick that propelled Orr into the air just takes the smile away a bit.
We all still know it’s iconic, but when you’re on the wrong side of history, it stings. Blues fans have had to feel like the guy who gave up the record setting home run or like Craig Ehlo, who was a great player in his own right but nobody knows other than being the guy Michael Jordan scored over in the iconic floating shot to win the game against Cleveland.
Now, the Blues have a chance to wipe that memory away for their fans. If the team was able to win four more games, we could all enjoy that Orr moment the way a hockey fan should, the same way you can look back at Hank Aaron’s home run to pass Babe Ruth or Wayne Gretzky’s goal to pass Gordie Howe.
We still have to wait many days to find out how we will remember this series vs. that one. At least we have been given the opportunity. For many, even getting this far seemed impossible some years. Now is the time to forge new memories, free of the shackles of past history.