The St. Louis Blues and their fans had a once in a lifetime experience four years ago. Things are definitely different now, but connect in strange, little ways.
When the St. Louis Blues got awarded the 2017 Bridgestone Winter Classic, fans were extremely excited. Few Blues fans believed the team would ever even play in a Winter Classic, much less host one.
However, when January 2, 2017 arrived, Mother Nature had different plans than a perfect day. It was slightly above freezing, which the organizers of these outdoor events have proven is no big deal. They had an outdoor game in California after all.
The bigger issue was the precipitation. In typical St. Louis fashion, we cannot just have a nice, fluffy snow fall like other cities. We get ice and freezing rain.
That’s about the worst you could have for hockey rink conditions. A deluge of rain would likely be worse, but ice or freezing drizzle would cause all sorts of complications.
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Those complications did affect the game between the Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks. While the game was still entertaining due to the event itself, the ice conditions were not perfect and the game was a bit sloppier than we had grown accustomed to between those two rivals.
Nevertheless, it was a fantastic day, even for those that were there and cold and wet. It was a memory that we can all treasure, made even better by the Blues winning.
It didn’t start well, with Chicago scoring the first goal. However, two Vladimir Tarasenko goals were the main highlights and provided the path to a 4-1 win.
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Normally, any January 2nd would just be the anniversary, but this one feels similar.
Mostly, that is because of the weather. It’s just slightly above freezing again and the chance for winter precipitation is out there, after we’ve had some ice in the St. Louis area already.
It’s the same kind of gray, gloomy day too. The main difference is there is no game to watch.
There is hockey to look forward to though. Similar to how January 2, three years ago, was somewhat of a springboard to a good second half of that season, this January 2 is the springboard to a new season.
The 2016-17 season had an interesting influence on the current Blues squad too. A few games after the Winter Classic, the Blues fired Ken Hitchcock and the Mike Yeo era began.
It worked out for that season, but not overall. Luckily, the Blues did not hang on too long and went with Craig Berube and thank goodness they did. Even with that exact same team, I do not think the Blues win in 2019 if Yeo is the coach.
Now, the Blues can begin a new chapter in 2021. Berube is still in charge, but the journey starts on a cold, wet January 2 as this year it is the eve of a new training camp.