The St. Louis Blues ended their long-standing championship drought one year ago. However, why was this the team to finally do it when others had failed?
When the St. Louis Blues hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history on June 12, 2019, they erased over 50 years of painful memories in one fell swoop. While few expected them to win it, they were actually the perfect team to win it for St. Louis.
When you consider the team’s history, they don’t have the longevity of teams like Chicago or Boston or Montreal. However, they have had their fair share of big names and good teams.
The Blues were not part of the “Original Six”, so they were not loaded with Hall of Fame talent like a Bobby Hull or Gordie Howe for years on end. Nevertheless, they had some great names.
While some were at the ends of their careers like Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante, there were plenty of up and comers like Garry Unger (who joined the team at 23), Curtis Joseph or Doug Gilmour.
More from Editorials
- St. Louis Blues Need Kasperi Kapanen To Be On Best Behavior
- Hayes’ Debut And Other Bold Predictions for the St. Louis Blues
- St. Louis Blues Captaincy Is Suddenly A Huge Problem For 2023-24
- St. Louis Blues National Games Cause More Problems Than They’re Worth
- St. Louis Blues Brayden Schenn Has To Be An Impact Player In 2023-24
It is true that most people only think of Brett Hull when they think of the Blues. If you’ve lived in St. Louis, obviously Bernie Federko gets thrown into that discussion as the best to wear the Note.
Nevertheless, the Blues have had tons of great names come through, whether for a cup of coffee or for long stretches. They’ve had Wayne Gretzky, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Pronger, Al MacInnis, Adam Oates, Pierre Turgeon, Red Berenson, Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Grant Fuhr and more.
All those great names, many in the Hall of Fame, and none could bring the Blues to the promised land. Some were great goal scorers and put up unbelievable point totals, but the team as a whole was always missing something.
While we will always remember the 2019 team, there an argument to be made that other squads had more talent in past years.
In 1999-00, the Blues won the Presidents Trophy for the best record in the league. That team lacked scoring depth and had a goaltender that was amazing in the regular season and cost them everything in the playoffs.
In 1995-96, we’ve documented the pain that season caused. The team was actually under .500 that season, but you figured adding the league’s biggest name was going to bring great things that season or the next. Unfortunately, Mike Keenan happened.
The Blues had two 100-plus point scorers in 1990-91, a future Hall of Fame defender that won three Stanley Cups in New Jersey and decent goaltending. Fate had other plans as the Blues lost in the second round to the eventual finalist Minnesota North Stars.
The Blues built off their Presidents Trophy team and went to the conference final in 2001. They ran into a buzzsaw in eventual champions, the Colorado Avalanche.
St. Louis had a fantastic run in 2015-16. Early failings in putting teams away left them with no gas to beat San Jose.
So how did the Blues win it in 2019? They had zero 80-point scorers.
The last time that happened was in 2013-14. Not coincidentally, the L.A. Kings played a very heavy style, just like the Blues in 2019.
If you strip everything away though, the Blues won because they played as a team. The championship team had very good players, but nobody that was looked at to lead anytime anything went wrong.
Nobody would doubt that Vladimir Tarasenko was that team’s best goal scorer. The Blues finally stopped asking him to be the only one to put the puck in the net every night.
Nobody was looking to a Scott Stevens-like defender to do all the heavy lifting. Colton Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester shut people down as a pairing.
The Blues would usually pair a more offensive defenseman with someone who took care of the other side more. That mixture gave everyone just the right responsibility and freedom, which often gives them the confidence to thrive in all three zones.
Add into the mix that Jordan Binnington played out of his mind that playoff run. His stats don’t reflect it because he had several games when he was human, but he was superhuman more often than not and the NHL is the one sport when one hot player as a goaltender can win the whole thing.
Even then, the Blues did not rely completely on Binnington and nothing else. There was always someone that came up big.
If the top six had a slow start, the bottom six played with energy and either chipped in with a goal or stifled the opponent until the big guns got their legs. If the defense had a hiccup, Binnington picked them up.
When Binnington was slightly off, the offense either came up with a big goal or the defense blocked shots. And the Blues just hit, hit, hit. From a numbers point of view, they might not have had a record number of checks, but they punished every single opponent and wore them out.
It all boils down to the entire team pitching in. They were not looking to a Hull to lead the way or a Gretzky to save the day. The guys that played one or two games had as big a role in those one or two games as the guys that played all 26.
St. Louis legitimately rolled four lines that could score, hit, pester and provide energy. While you had your shutdown duo, the Blues felt no trepidation by any defensive pair going out there against the other team’s best lines.
That is something rare, but something you often see in today’s game’s winners. Stanley Cup champions are deep teams that just have that extra will and get a few bounces.
That can’t be overlooked either. So many years in the past, there was that bounce that went against the Blues and it took the wind out of their sails completely.
The team that finally won it for St. Louis got a few bounces that never went their way in the past – remember Ben Bishop almost losing his head off Parayko’s shot? – or they managed to not let any bad bounce take them out of it. *Coughhandpasscough*
In the end, by however you want to measure it, the Blues earned it in 2019 instead of just wanting it. There were better players in the Blues sweater in years past and there might have been better teams.
None could get it done. The guys finally did one year ago and now they’ll be legends in the Gateway City forever.