“When the Blues go marching in, oh when the Blues go marching in. Oh Lord, I want to me in that number, when the Blues go marching in.” I’ve been singing that song for decades. Actually, I’ve been singing that song for 52 years. Over the past few weeks I’d find myself singing it on bike rides as the Blues continued to defy the odds and keep alive in the NHL Playoffs.
I was there in 1967 when the Blues came into existence. I attended some games each year in fascination of the speed and physicality of the sport, and the support the team had from the St. Louis community. Initially I went to games with my dad and other family members while growing up in St. Louis. Then as I got older I started going to games with friends that shared my passion for the team. We would search out free parking in the neighborhood behind Steak ‘n Shake off Hampton Avenue that then jog to the game. Most of the time I’d listen to the radio call by the late Dan Kelly on KMOX. He was the greatest of all time.
I’ve spent time day-dreaming about the St. Louis Blues winning the Stanley Cup. That was something other teams could do but not the Blues. I’ve remained loyal but cynical. Each summer when it was all about the Cardinals, who also mean a lot to me, I’d look for a Blues article on the www.stltoday website each day. I’ve written in on Blues blog posts at times saying the team does not have it and why. Even this season in January I advocated the Blues continue to lose to have a better chance at the #1 NHL draft pick and choose Jack Hughes. “Lose to Choose Hughes” was the motto. I’ve seen this movie 51 times and never with the desired ending.
When the tennis teams I coach at Rock Bridge High School have won the state championship, I refer to it as winning the Stanley Cup. It’s so special and such an amazing feeling to invest together, commit together, dream together, and accomplish something together of such great magnitude when it means so much to you. It would be a similar emotional experience if my beloved Blues could win the Stanley Cup. But against the odds the Blues did go marching in and win the Cup!
Here is what has made the accomplishment like no other in sports history. The Blues were in last place in the league on the morning of January 3. No other professional sports team has been in last place at that point in their season and come back to win the championship. Each playoff series was a tough struggle, but the team found a way. The Blues were not among the most talented teams in the league. Besides overall great goaltending, the team did have such tenacity, a strong belief, and amazing resilience after loses. And here is something head coach Craig Berube emphasized before game 7 – look at the situation as a great challenge and a great opportunity. That is great advice for a lot of situations in sport and in life.