ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- It’s all real. It actually happened.
The Blues just won the Cup.
With a win over the Bruins Wednesday night, St. Louis captured its first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. Blues hockey, a tradition dating back to 1967, just delivered a moment only thought possible in the dizziest daydreams of its supporters. Until now.
Paced by two first-period goals, the Blues defeated the Bruins 4-1 at TD Garden in Boston, bringing their final record in road games throughout these playoffs to a historic 10-3. Jordan Binnington, the best individual story in St. Louis sports history this side of Kurt Warner, showed up on the biggest stage Wednesday, putting on the display of a lifetime. His exceptional play began from the drop of the puck, as Binnington made several breathtaking saves in the first, keeping Boston off the board in spite of a Bruins power play.
The title didn’t happen on home ice, but that hasn’t deterred St. Louis’ enthusiasm for the occasion. After the Enterprise Center watch party sold out in under an hour, the Cardinals opened up Busch Stadium for the overflow party. Rest assured, the festivities downtown will rage deep into the night, and beyond.
And how could they not? The city has waited long enough. And the players whose efforts will allow that sacred chalice to be paraded down Market Street in the coming days have given all they had to make it happen.
The players bled for this moment. They fought for this moment. They battled injuries for this moment, refusing to bow out due to a sprained or fractured whatever. You don’t think those kinds of things haven’t been going on behind the scenes? When you hear stories around town about your second-cousin’s dog walker seeing a Blues player limping through the produce aisle of Whole Foods, it’s not that hard to imagine.
As the Blues closed in on their first-ever Stanley Cup, I thought about one person: my late father.
Consider the punishment these bodies take over the course of an NHL season, going all the way back to October. Well, the Blues just played an extra two months on top of it. And to a man, they’d tell you it was all worth it.
Because the Blues just won the Cup.
What do you think Tom Stillman is experiencing right now? It’s not always popular to praise ownership in professional sports, but Mr. Stillman is an exception to the rule. The commitment he’s shown to St. Louis and the tradition of Blues hockey in this town cannot be overstated. Even in this very season, with the odds stacked against his team after a poor start, Stillman didn’t give any orders for Doug Armstrong to execute a tear-down and rebuild process. Instead, the Blues got an interim coach, a new goaltender, and were on their way to history.
Stillman and Armstrong believed in what they had and decided to keep this roster together, hoping some magic could be in store down the road. Thank goodness they did, too.
Because the Blues just won the Cup.
If the Blues win the Stanley Cup Sunday night, select Dick’s Sporting Goods location in the St. Louis area will be open right after Game 6 ends to sell Stanley Cup championship shirts.
Even without the helicopter viewpoint of St. Louis sports in recent years, this Blues championship run is the greatest sports story the city’s history. Add in the supporting details--the Rams leaving for Los Angeles as the NFL trashed the city on the way out, and the Cardinals general malaise that began around the same time--and this championship gets more emotionally powerful for our town than we even realized possible.
As Brett Hull might say, “Hey buddy, we’re still here.”
St. Louis, one of the best sports cities in America. Its Blues, making history to hoist their first-ever Stanley Cup. No matter what happens after tonight, nobody can ever take this moment away from the Gateway to the West. So close your eyes, open up a window, and take in the euphoria. Listen to the celebration. Soak it in, because it finally happened.
The Blues just won the Stanley Cup.