With a certain quarterback leaving his home of 20 years, it jars people to think of him in a new uniform. It’s not quite the same with the St. Louis Blues or in the NHL.
The St. Louis Blues have had plenty of guys come through their doors who fans fell in love with and were considered Blues for life. However, very few, if any, actually were.
With the departure of Tom Brady from the New England Patriots and his apparent signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the sports world was left reeling. Brady had only ever been with the Patriots and spent 20-plus years in Boston.
Now, through the wonders of technology, without ever having played a down in a game or practice, we already have images of Brady in a Bucs uniform. Firstly, I’m not a personal fan of their current jerseys anyway, but that image is about as jarring as a sports picture can be without including severe bodily harm.
However, for some reason, the NHL does not really have that same jarring nature to players changing teams. There are a few examples from around the league, but very few at all for the Blues.
Around the NHL, almost nobody stayed with one team throughout their career. Of course, that’s an overstatement as there are several Hall of Fame players that stayed with one team.
But, there are many prominent names in league history that ended up playing elsewhere. Everyone associates Gordie Howe with the Detroit Red Wings and Bobby Hull with the Chicago Blackhawks. Both finished their careers with the Hartford Whalers and Hull had some years with the Winnipeg Jets too.
There is likely no more famous Boston Bruin than Bobby Orr. Orr actually donned a Blackhawks sweater at the end of his career for two seasons, though only 26 games total.
Many consider Wayne Gretzky the greatest player of all time. Gretzky not only played for four teams in his career, but he actually got traded twice. How many of the best players of all time can say that? If you consider Babe Ruth the best of all time, that might be one of the few examples since he got sold from Boston to New York, which is essentially trading a player for cash.
St. Louis has been on both sides of this equation too. While perhaps not the best of all time, most think of Bernie Federko as Mr. Blues. However, he ended his career in Detroit after being traded for Adam Oates.
On the flip side, nobody outside of St. Louis is likely to remember Martin Brodeur playing with any team other than the New Jersey Devils. However, we remember that he spent a brief time actually wearing the Blues sweater before spending more time in the Blues front office.
Sure it was. However, it was not something that fans across the league paid much notice to.
Football seems to have a strange association with players, even though their careers are often the shortest or they spend their time with one team the least.
Brady is not the first. Brett Favre was as close as the NFL had come to a LeBron type decision and he did it twice. Adding salt to the wound, Favre played for one of the Green Bay Packers main rivals.
It would be like Brett Hull playing for Chicago. Ok, he did play in Detroit and that was bad enough.
Joe Montana ended his career in Kansas City. While I actually liked him with the Chiefs, most football fans had to do the double-take any time they watched the Chiefs during those two seasons.
In fairness, as ESPN pointed out in their article on notable greats to play for other teams, MLB might take the cake. Seeing Hank Aaron and Willie Mays wearing Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets uniforms almost broke the space-time barrier.
For some reason, it just does not feel like hockey has that same shock across the league. Gretzky’s movement is likely the biggest one, but it might have more to do with age. I grew up seeing him with the Los Angeles Kings, so the idea that he started with the Edmonton Oilers was more a trivia matter. Perhaps that is true of many.
Still, the Blues just don’t have that big name that has stayed their entire career. Barclay Plager was a Blue his entire career and so was Brian Sutter. Even so, there is not that feeling of an enormous impact the way that Brady had.
Alex Pietrangelo is the closest thing right now, after parts of 12 seasons in St. Louis. However, with his pending free agency, we cannot say he will be here forever.
Vladimir Tarasenko will be roughly 32 when his current contract ends. It’s unlikely he retires at that age unless his current injuries have a huge impact.
So, there just is not that same jarring nature when Blues players or hockey players swap teams. Say what you want about Brady and what the team he played for did, but he’s on the Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks. Seeing him in that weird pewter and red will just be strange.