St. Louis Blues: On The Eighth Day Of Bluesmas 2020

Photo by Bill Greenblatt/Liaison
Photo by Bill Greenblatt/Liaison /

On the eighth day of Bluesmas, our true love gave to us – a game that few saw live because the NHL refused to postpone it.

In today’s era of the pandemic, it’s almost hard to imagine a time when things were not shut down or postponed. The St. Louis Blues worked in a very different environment back in 1973.

For the eighth day of Bluesmas, we take a trip back 47 years. While the game was played on December 19, 1973, most of St. Louis did not find out about it until the day after.

By the time the puck dropped on the Blues game against the Los Angeles Kings, there was an almost record-setting 12 inches of snow on the ground. Fans that might live on the east coast or up in Canada might laugh at such a paltry total, but St. Louis is different.

St. Louis is in that odd middle zone of weather. We don’t get enough cold and snow to truly know the harshness of winter, but we get enough to laugh at any city further south that tries to complain about one ice storm every couple years.

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This was a big storm for the area. Though schools and some businesses shut down if you sneeze and the droplets freeze on the ground today, there were not as many closures back then.

For this storm, just about every school was closed and even the St. Louis Airport was shut down. Roads were closed as well.

So, it is somewhat miraculous that anyone showed up to see a professional hockey game at all. But, because the NHL refused to postpone the game, for reasons unknown to anyone, 4,115 showed up at the St. Louis Arena.

The Post-Dispatch’s report on the game did not indicate if there were restrictions placed on concessions, such as one item per person, but everything was free. I can’t say I might not brave the weather to see a hockey game and get free food.

St. Louis did not have a lot of jump, since they had been sitting at the arena for as long s three hours. Many had been told to leave their homes early in case roads were that bad, but many made it in an hour’s trip.

Personally, I like do see consistency for my franchise. These days, the Blues sometimes get off to sluggish starts and rely too much on goaltending.

That was exactly the story in this game, 47 years ago. Wayne Stephenson had to make several big saves in the first period. Though he was only called upon to make 30 saves all game, it was still a good win for him, coming off an injury.

Though the Kings did score first, Stephenson shut them down the rest of the game. Garry Unger would tie the contest with under a minute left in the first.

The intermission, as well as Unger’s goal, did the Blues plenty of good. They took a 2-1 lead on a power play goal from Larry Giroux.

St. Louis would get an insurance goal later on and pick up a 3-1 win.

That was the second game of a three-game win streak for the 1973-74 Blues. There were not a lot to follow.

That game that so few saw live was the team’s 13th win. They would finish with just 26 wins in a 78 game season and finish a lowly 6th in the West.

Nevertheless, this was a prime example of the Blues as they were for so many years. Such odd things would happen, but the team usually managed to turn it into a positive somehow.

Why the league refused to postpone is anyone’s guess. As the postgame article pointed out, rather sarcastically, the NHL had just postponed a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and California Seals the year prior simply because the Seals did not want to share the parking lot with a World Series game going on at Oakland Coliseum.

Next. On the seventh day of Bluesmas. dark

Such is life. The 4,115 fans that showed up got to see a fun game and have a memory for a lifetime. The rest of us read about it the next day, or through the wonders of the internet years later.