The St. Louis Blues did right by Thorburn in his final year. He did right by them when saying goodbye.
When the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup, the team did something that was a little puzzling to some fans (including myself). They handed the holiest of grails in hockey to Chris Thorburn before some of the top line players.
Alex Steen got the Cup after that, which made sense due to his seniority. Steen then handed it to Thorburn.
The reason this was puzzling was because Thorburn had not suited up for the Blues once in the 2019 playoffs. He actually only played in one game the entire 2018-19 season and he only played 1:52 in that game.
However, this was not about ranking the players. It was to show that this team felt each member was on the same level, like a family.
“We don’t leave a man behind,” Thorburn said at the time, reported by ESPN. “Everyone’s part of the group, part of something special. Just feels like everyone had a part in it.”
Now, that moment takes on even more meaning. Thorburn has announced he will be retiring from the NHL, thus making his last moments on the ice when he was holding the Cup.
Thorburn was appreciative of all of his teammates and teams he played for. He was especially thankful to the Blues.
“It was an unbelievable ride with a storybook ending. To finish my hockey career with the St. Louis Blues and finally get an opportunity to lift the Stanley Cup over my head, I could not have scripted a better way to go out.” Chris Thorburn
Thorburn’s time with the Blues was fairly short. St. Louis acquired the feisty forward via free agency in 2017 after the Winnipeg Jets allowed Vegas to claim Thorburn in the expansion draft and then the Golden Knights let him get to free agency.
He only played in 51 total games with the Blues. His NHL career was spent with Winnipeg and the Atlanta Thrashers before that, with short stays in the Pittsburgh and Buffalo organizations.
However, like any story with a happy ending, it is the ending Thorburn will likely remember the most. He was a great glue guy in the Blues locker room, even when not playing.
St. Louis did right by Thorburn by including him on the roster for the 2019 playoffs. It was not just a token gesture as they put him in that squad so his son was able to receive medication for autism via the NHL insurance program.
Thorburn repaid the team by being a positive voice in the locker room. While a completely different person, Thorburn’s positivity was similar to what the team had lost with Ryan Reaves.
Thorburn’s contract was up after the 2018-19 season. No team signed him for 2019-20, so the writing was on the wall, even if he hoped someone might make a late call.
That call never came, so now Thorburn is riding off into the sunset as a champion. Very few athletes get that opportunity.
Now, Thorburn’s final memory in an NHL rink will be the realization of a dream every kid who ever laced up skates had.