St. Louis Blues

In 1967, the National Hockey League doubled its size from six to twelve teams; the St. Louis Blues were one of those teams, so the club (along with the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, and Dallas Stars, which is the successor team to both the Minnesota North Stars and the California Golden Seals) is currently celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. While in St. Louis this Christmas we stopped by the Central Library for an exhibit on the team’s history entitled “50 Years of Blood, Sweat and Cheers – A Tribute to the St. Louis Blues and their Fans.” The Blues have never won the Stanley Cup, but they are a key part of the city’s culture and have a devoted fan base, and like all sports teams have accumulated a wealth of lore over the course of their existence. Some photos:

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The prototype Blues sweater, not ever used.

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The original squad, and their original bench.

goalie

In the olden days, even goalies didn’t wear helmets.

gretzky

This is Wayne Gretzky, widely regarded as the best player ever to play the game. He played for St. Louis for 31 games in 1996.

I was also fortunate to attend the Alumni Game of the Winter Classic on December 31. For the past few years the NHL has sponsored an outdoor game as a marquee event on New Year’s day, featuring teams playing on a specially built rink in a football or a baseball stadium – this year it was the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium, normally home to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. As a bonus, an “alumni game,” featuring retired players, also takes place the day before. It was nice of Gretzky to come out for this.

rink

The game was not really competitive, but it was fun all the same.