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The St. Louis Blues are a professional ice hockey team based in St. Louis, Missourimarker. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team is named after the famous W. C. Handy song "St. Louis Blues," and plays in the 19,150-seat Scottrade Centermarker in downtown St. Louis.


Franchise history

Early history (1967–70)

Original logo of the St. Louis Blues (1967–84).
The Blues were one of the six teams added to the NHL in the 1967 expansion, along with the Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and California Seals.

St. Louis was the last of the expansion teams to officially gain entry into the league, chosen over Baltimoremarker at the insistence of the Chicago Blackhawks. At the time, the Blackhawks were (and still are) owned by the influential Wirtz family of Chicagomarker, which also owned the then-decrepit St. Louis Arenamarker. The Wirtzes sought to unload the Arena, which had not been well-maintained since the 1940s, and thus pressed the NHL to give St. Louis (which had never even submitted a formal expansion bid) a franchise over Baltimore. The team's first owners were insurance tycoon Sid Salomon Jr., his son, Sid Salomon III, and Robert L. Wolfson, who were granted the franchise in 1966. Sid Salomon III convinced his initially wary father to make a bid for the team. Salomon then spent several million dollars on massive renovations for the 38-year-old Arena, which increased the number of seats from 12,000 to 15,000.

The Blues were originally coached by Lynn Patrick who, after a quick resignation, was replaced by Scotty Bowman. Although the league's rules effectively kept star players with the Original Six teams, the Blues managed to stand out in the inferior Western Division. Capitalizing on a playoff format that required an expansion team to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blues reached the final round each of their first three seasons, though they were swept first by the Montreal Canadiens in 1968 and 1969 and then by the Boston Bruins in 1970.

While the first Blues' teams included aging and faded veterans like Doug Harvey, Don McKenney and Dickie Moore, the veteran goaltending tandem of Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante proved more durable, winning a Vezina Trophy in 1969 behind a sterling defense that featured players like skilled defensive forward Jim Roberts and hardrock brothers Bob and Barclay Plager. Phil Goyette won the Lady Byng Trophy for the Blues in 1970 and New York Rangers castoff Red Berenson became the expansion team's first major star at center. The Arena quickly became one of the loudest buildings in the NHL, a reputation it maintained throughout its tenure as the Blues' home.

During that time, Salomon gained a reputation throughout the league as the ultimate players' owner. He gave his players cars, signed them to deferred contracts, and treated them to vacations in Floridamarker. The players, used to being treated like mere commodities, felt the only way they could pay him back was to give their best on the ice every night.

The Blues' Struggles (1970–77)

The Blues' successes in the late 1960s, however, did not continue into the 1970s as the playoff format changed and the Chicago Blackhawks were moved into the still inferior Western Division. The Blues lost Bowman, who went to Montreal following a power-sharing dispute with Sid Salomon III (who was taking an increasing role in team affairs), as well as Hall, Plante, Goyette, and ultimately Berenson, who were lost to retirement or trade. The Berenson trade, however, did bring then-Red Wings star center Garry Unger, who ultimately scored 30 goals in eight consecutive seasons while breaking the NHL's consecutive games played record.

Defensively, however, the Blues were less than stellar and saw Chicago and the Philadelphia Flyers overtake the division. After missing the playoffs for the first time in 1973–74, the Blues ended up in the Smythe Division after a realignment. This division, too, was particularly weak, and in 1976–77 the Blues won it while finishing five games below .500, though this would be their last playoff appearance in the decade.

In the meantime, the franchise was on the brink of financial collapse. This was partly due to the pressures of the World Hockey Association, but mostly the result of financial decisions made when the Salomons first acquired the franchise. Deferred contracts came due just as the Blues' performance began to slip. At one point, the Salomons cut the team's staff down to three employees. One of them was Emile Francis, who served as team president, general manager and coach.

Purina Era (1977–83)

The Salomons finally found a buyer in St. Louis-based pet food giant Ralston Purina in 1977, who renamed the Arena "the Checkerdome." Francis and minority owner Wolfson helped put together the deal with Ralston Purina, which ensured that the Blues would stay in St. Louis. Only a year after finishing with only 18 wins (still the worst season in franchise history), the Blues made the playoffs in 1980, the first of 25 consecutive post-season appearances. The team's improvement continued into 1981, when the Berenson-coached team, led by Wayne Babych (54 goals), future Hall of Famermarker Bernie Federko (104 points), Brian Sutter (35 goals), and goaltender Mike Liut (second to Wayne Gretzky for the Hart Trophy), finished with 45 wins and 107 points, the second-best record in the league. Their regular-season success, however, did not transfer into the playoffs, as they were eliminated by the New York Rangers in the second round. The Blues followed their generally successful 1980–81 campaign with two consecutive sub-.500 seasons, though they still managed to make playoffs each year.

Purina lost an estimated $1.8 million a year during its ownership of the Blues, but took the losses philosophically, having taken over out of a sense of civic responsibility. In 1983, Purina's longtime chairman, R. Hal Dean, retired. His successor wanted to refocus on the core pet food business, and had no interest in hockey. He only saw a division that was bleeding money, and put the Blues on the market. The Blues did not pick anyone in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft because Purina did not send a representative; the company basically abandoned the team. It finally found a buyer in a group of investors led by WHA and Edmonton Oilers founder Bill Hunter, who then made plans to move the team to Saskatoon, Saskatchewanmarker. However, the NHL was unwilling to lose a market as large as St. Louis and vetoed the deal. Purina then padlocked the Checkerdome and turned the team over to the league. The team appeared destined for contraction when, on July 27, 1983, Harry Ornest, a Los Angelesmarker-based businessman, came in at the 11th hour to save the franchise. Ornest immediately renamed the Checkerdome back to the St. Louis Arena.

Road to a new arena and the Signing of Al MacInnis (1983–96)

Logo used (1984–98)


Ornest ran the Blues on a shoestring budget. However, the players did not mind, because (according to Sutter) they badly wanted to stay in St. Louis. For instance, he asked many players to defer their salaries to help meet operating costs, but they always got paid in the end. During most of his tenure, the Blues had only 26 players under contract – 23 in St. Louis, plus three on their farm team in Montanamarker. Most NHL teams during the mid-1980s had over 60 players under contract.

Despite being run on the cheap, the Blues remained competitive even though they never finished more than six games over .500 in Ornest's three years as owner. During this time, Doug Gilmour, drafted by St. Louis in 1982, emerged as a star.

However, while the Blues remained competitive, they were unable to keep many of their young players. More often than not, several of the Blues' young guns ended up as Calgary Flames, and the sight of Flames executive Al MacNeil was always greeted with dread. In fact, several of the Blues' young stars, such as Rob Ramage and Gilmour, were main cogs in the Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup win. Sutter and Federko were probably the only untouchables.

By 1986, the team reached the Campbell Conference Finals against the Flames. Doug Wickenheiser's overtime goal in Game 6 to cap a furious comeback remains one of the greatest moments in team history (known locally as the "Monday Night Miracle"), but the Blues lost Game 7, 2–1. After that season, Ornest sold the team to a group led by St. Louis businessman Michael Shanahan.

St. Louis kept chugging along through the late 1980s and early 1990s. General manager Ron Caron made astute moves, landing forwards Brett Hull, Adam Oates, and Brendan Shanahan, defenseman Al MacInnis, and goaltender Curtis Joseph among others. While the Blues contended during this time period, they never passed the second round of the playoffs. Still, their on-ice success was enough for a consortium of 19 companies to buy the team. They also provided the capital to build the Kiel Center (now the Scottrade Centermarker), which opened in 1994.

Hull, nicknamed the "Golden Brett" (a reference to his father, NHL legend Bobby Hull, who was nicknamed the "Golden Jet"), became one of the league's top superstars and a scoring sensation, netting 86 goals in 1990–91 en route to earning the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player. Hull's 86 goals set the record for most goals in a single season by a right-winger and placed him third for most tallies in a single season for any position; only Wayne Gretzky has scored more (notching 92 in 1981–82 and 87 in 1983–84). Mario Lemieux previously held that distinction, having notched 85 goals in 76 games during the 1988–89 season. Also, only Gretzky found the net more than Hull during any given three-year period. Despite posting the second-best regular-season record in the entire league in 1990–91, the Blues lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Minnesota North Stars, a defeat that was symbolic of St. Louis' playoff struggles.

From President's Trophy to struggling times (1997–2006)

Mike Keenan was hired as both general manager and coach prior to the abbreviated 1995 season, with the hope that he could cure the post-season turmoil Blues fans had endured for years. Keenan instituted major changes, including trades that sent away fan favorites Brendan Shanahan and Curtis Joseph, as well as the acquisition of the legendary but aging Gretzky and goalie Grant Fuhr, both from the declining Los Angeles Kings (Gretzky left for the New York Rangers as an unrestricted free agent following the season). In spite of all he was prophesied to accomplish, Keenan's playoff resume with St. Louis included a first-round exit in 1995 and a second-round exit in 1996, and he was fired on December 19, 1996. Caron was reinstated as interim general manager for the rest of season, and GM Larry Pleau was hired on June 9, 1997. But that did not stop Hull, who had a lengthy feud with Keenan, from leaving for the Dallas Stars in 1998. He went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Stars the next year, scoring a controversial goal on Buffalo's Dominik Hasek to clinch the Cup for Dallas.

Defensemen Chris Pronger (acquired from the Hartford Whalers in 1995 for Shanahan), Pavol Demitra, Pierre Turgeon, Al MacInnis, and goalie Roman Turek kept the Blues a contender. In 1999–2000, they notched a franchise-record 114 points during the regular season, earning the Presidents' Trophy for the league's best record. However, they were stunned by the San Jose Sharks in the first round in seven games. In 2001, the Blues advanced to the Western Conference Finals before bowing out in five games to eventual Champions Colorado Avalanche. They remained competitive for the next three years, but never got past the second round.

Despite years of mediocrity and the stigma of never being able to "take the next step", the Blues were a playoff presence every year from 1980 to 2004 — the third longest streak in North American professional sports history. Amid several questionable personnel moves and an unstable ownership situation, the Blues finished the 2005–06 season with their worst record in 27 years. They missed the playoffs for only the fourth time in franchise history. Also, for the first time in club history, the normally excellent support seen by St. Louisans began to fade away, with crowds normally numbering around 12,000, a far cry from the team's normal high (about 18,000 in a 19,500 seat arena).

Wal-Martmarker heir Nancy Walton Laurie and her husband Bill purchased the Blues in 1999, but on June 17, 2005, announced that they would sell the team. Bill Laurie had long desired to buy an NBA team, and it was thought that this desire caused him to neglect the Blues. On September 29, 2005, it was announced that the Lauries had signed an agreement to sell the Blues to SCP Worldwide, a consulting and investment group headed by former Madison Square Gardenmarker president Dave Checketts. On November 14, 2005, the Blues announced that SCP Worldwide had officially withdrawn from negotiations to buy the team. On December 27, 2005, it was announced that the Blues had signed a letter of intent to exclusively negotiate with General Sports and Entertainment, LLC. However, after the period of exclusivity, SCP entered the picture again. On March 24, 2006, the Lauries completed the sale of the Blues and the lease to the Savvis Center to SCP and TowerBrook Capital Partners, L.P.

Under new management, the Blues promptly installed John Davidson as president of hockey operations, moving Pleau to a mostly advisory role. The former Rangers goalie promptly made some big deals, picking up Jay McKee, Bill Guerin and Manny Legace from free agency, and bringing Doug Weight back to St. Louis after a brief (and productive) stopover in Carolina. Weight was again traded in December 2007 to the Anaheim Ducks along with a minor league player in exchange for Andy McDonald. Davidson is currently attempting to build a strong American base of players for the Blues.

The rebuilding (2006–present)

Following the disappointing 2005–06 season, which saw the Blues with the worst record in the NHL, the new management focused on rebuilding the franchise. At the beginning of the 2006–07 season, the Blues looked to be competitive in the Central Division. However, injuries plagued the team all season, and the lack of a sniper hampered them as well. Fan support was sluggish during the first half of the campaign, and the end of the calendar year was capped by an 11-game losing streak. On December 11, 2006, the Blues fired coach Mike Kitchen and replaced him with former Los Angeles Kings coach Andy Murray. [4689]. On January 4, 2007, the Blues had a record of 6–1–3 in their previous 10 games, which was the best in the NHL during that stretch. Despite a healthy 24-point jump from the previous season, the strain of playing in a conference where seven teams finished with more than 100 points kept them out of the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Immediately prior to the 2007 Trade Deadline, the Blues traded several key players, such as Bill Guerin, Keith Tkachuk, and Dennis Wideman to gain draft picks. (They later re-signed Tkachuk during the offseason.) Brad Boyes, picked up from the Bruins in exchange for Wideman, became the fastest Blues player to reach 40 goals since Brett Hull, doing so during the 2007–08 season.

During the 2007 offseason, the Blues signed free agent Paul Kariya to a 3-year contract worth $18 million, re-signed defenseman Barret Jackman to a one-year contract, lost their captain Dallas Drake to the Detroit Red Wings, and traded prospect Carl Soderberg to the Boston Bruins in exchange for yet more depth in the goalie crease, Hannu Toivonen.

On October 2, 2007, the Blues finalized the season starting roster, which included rookies David Perron, Steven Wagner, and Erik Johnson. On October 10, 2007, the Blues introduced a new mascot: Louie.

On December 14, 2007, the Blues traded Doug Weight, a 38 year old four-time All Star center, to the Anaheim Ducks as part of a package to acquire 30-year old center Andy McDonald.

As of December 22, 2007, the Blues telecast on FSN Midwest was estimated to be reaching 30,000 households per game. This is up 125% compared to the same time the previous season.

On February 8, 2008, it was announced that, after going much of the season without a captain, defenseman Eric Brewer was chosen as the team's 19th captain.[4690]

On February 26, 2008, the Blues traded veteran defenseman Bryce Salvador to the New Jersey Devils for enforcer, and St. Louis native, Cam Janssen. He made his debut two days later, wearing #55 against the Phoenix Coyotes.

After spending the first half of the 2008–09 season at or near the bottom of the Western Conference, the Blues began to turn things around behind the solid goaltending of Chris Mason.After an astounding second half run, the Blues made the playoffs on April 10, 2009 by defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1. On April 12, the Blues clinched the 6th seed in the Western conference with a 1-0 win against Colorado.

For the first time in five years, the Blues were in the playoffs. They faced the #3 seeded Vancouver Canucks in the 1st round. Despite the team's tremendous run to end the season, the Blues would ultimately lose the series in a quick 4-game sweep.

Team information

Arena

The Blues play in the 19,150 (not counting standing room) capacity Scottrade Centermarker, where they have played since 1994. Previously the team played in the St. Louis Arenamarker, where the old St. Louis Eagles played, and which the original owners had to buy as a condition of the 1967 NHL expansion.

Jerseys

Like all NHL teams, the Blues updated their jerseys for the 2007–08 season with new Rbk Edge jerseys. The Blues simplified their design compared to previous jerseys, with only the blue note logo on the front. There were no third jerseys for the 2007–08 season, however, the Blues announced plans for a navy third jersey featuring a new logo. The new logo includes the Gateway Archmarker with the Blue Note superimposed over it inside a circle with the words "St. Louis" above and "Blues" below. The third jersey was unveiled on September 21, 2008, and debuted during a Blues' home game against the Anaheim Ducks on November 21, 2008.

Mascot

Louie is the current mascot of the St. Louis Blues. He was introduced on October 10, 2007, and on November 3, 2007, the fans voted on his name on the Blues website.

Radio and Television

KMOX radio and KPLRmarker television were the initial broadcast outlets for the Blues upon their founding, with team patron Gus Kyle commentating on the games alongside St Louis broadcasting legend Jack Buck. Buck elected to leave the booth after one season, though, and he was replaced by another famed announcer in Dan Kelly. This setup—Kelly as commentator, with either Kyle, Bob Plager or Noel Picard (whose heavy French-Canadian accent became famous, such as calling owner Sid Salomon III "Sid the Turd" instead of "Third") joining as an analyst, simulcast on KMOX and KPLR—continued for over 20 years, save for a brief period when games were televised on KDNLmarker. However, after Kelly's death in 1989, former substitute announcer Ken Wilson took to the mic, joined by either Joe Micheletti or Bruce Affleck on both radio and television. During this time, more games began to be aired on Prime Sports Midwest, the forerunner to today's Fox Sports Midwest.

The long-term partnership between KMOX and the Blues had its problems, however, namely during spring when the ever-popular St. Louis Cardinals began their seasons. Blues games, many of which were crucial to playoff berths, would often be pre-empted for spring training coverage. Angry at having to play "second fiddle", the Blues elected to leave for KTRS radio in 2000. However, in an ironic twist the Cards purchased a controlling interest in KTRS in 2005, and once again preferred to air pre-season baseball over regular-season hockey. In response, the Blues moved back to KMOX starting in the 2006-07 season. 2008-9 saw the Blues play their last game on KPLR, electing to move all their games to FS Midwest.

Currently, Chris Kerber and Kelly Chase are the radio broadcast team. John Kelly (son of Dan) and Darren Pang handle television coverage, along with Bernie Federko (on-ice analyst) and Jim Hayes and Pat Parris (pre- and post-game shows).

Traditions

The Blues have a tradition of playing an organ rendition of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" at the start of every period and "When the Saints Go Marching In" after a goal and at the end of the period. The Budweiser Theme "Here Comes The King" is still played during games on the organ also. A foghorn was added during the 1992-93 season at the St. Louis Arena and was carried over to The Kiel Center (currently known as Scottrade Centermarker) in 1994.

A late developing Blues tradition was the 5 goal tacos. Before the 2004–05 NHL lockout, the Blues advertised tacos for 35 cents at any local Taco Bell the day following a game in which the Blues scored five or more goals. Games in which the Blues had scored 4 goals were often accompanied by the "We Want Tacos!" chant in anticipation of a fifth goal (and thus 35 cent tacos the following day). Additionally, a series of five lighted boards along the upper deck of the Scottrade Center kept track of the number of goals. Following the lockout, the promotion was discontinued. The tradition was resurrected in a similar promotion during the 2007–2008 season. However, rather than 35 cent tacos, fans had to present their game tickets to receive 1 free taco from Scottrade Center the day following a Blues 5-goal game. In the 2008–09 season, it was announced that after a 5 goal game, fans in attendance would receive coupons for a free 12oz Blizzard at area St. Louis Dairy Queen restaurants. These coupons were attached to a limited edition player trading card which featured Blues stars, past and present. The promotion continued in 2009-10, but with a new restaurant sponsor (McDonald's) and therefore a new signature product (the Big Mac).

The team also has a long tradition of fan-produced programs, sold outside the arena and providing an often biting, sarcastic, humor filled alternative to team/league produced periodicals. The longest-running fan publication, Game Night Revue, was created by a group of fans in the mold of the Chicago Blackhawks' Blue Line Magazine. It operated for over 10 years, from 1994 to 2005, when its owner decided not to resume the magazine after the 2004-05 NHL lockout (one final oversized "goodbye" issue was distributed the first two home games of the 2005-2006 season). After hockey resumed in 2005, a few months after GNR's final issue, a new publication, St. Louis Game Time, was formed by several former GNR staffers, as well as other fans who wanted to write. Priding itself on prospect coverage and a strong presence on the Internet, SLGT has built a loyal following among fans and even several players.

Season-by-season record

This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Blues. For the full season-by-season history, see St. Louis Blues seasons

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, OTL = Overtime losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Season GP W L OTL Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
2004–05 Season cancelled due to 2004–05 NHL lockout
2005–06 82 21 46 15 57 197 292 1355 5th, Central Did not qualify
2006–07 82 34 35 13 81 214 254 1070 3rd, Central Did not qualify
2007–08 82 33 36 13 79 205 237 1135 5th, Central Did not qualify
2008–09 82 41 31 10 92 233 233 1135 3rd, Central Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 0-4 (Canucks)


Notable players

Current roster

Team captains




Hall of Famers

Players


Broadcasters
  • Dan Kelly, play-by-play broadcaster, 1968–1989, inducted 1989


Retired numbers

Officially retired

The Blues also recognize the NHL's retirement of 99 in honor of Wayne Gretzky.

Honored numbers

  • 5 Bob Plager, D, 1967–78, number not officially retired but honored.
  • 14 Doug Wickenheiser, LW, 1984–87, number honored and unofficially retired
  • No number Dan Kelly, Broadcaster, 1968–89, recognized with an honorary shamrock that hangs from the rafters at Scottrade Centermarker


First-round draft picks




Franchise scoring leaders

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Blues player

Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Bernie Federko C 927 352 721 1,073 1.16
Brett Hull RW 744 527 409 936 1.26
Brian Sutter LW 779 303 333 636 .82
Garry Unger C 662 292 283 575 .87
Pavol Demitra LW/C 494 204 289 493 1.00
Al MacInnis D 613 127 325 452 .74
Red Berenson LW 519 172 240 412 .79
Keith Tkachuk * LW 476 195 200 395 .82
Chris Pronger D 598 84 272 356 .60
Pierre Turgeon C 327 134 221 355 1.09


NHL awards and trophies




Franchise individual records

  • Most goals in a season: Brett Hull, 86 (1990–91)
  • Most assists in a season: Adam Oates, 90 (1990–91)
  • Most points in a season: Brett Hull, 131 (1990–91)
  • Most penalty minutes in a season: Bob Gassoff, 306 (1975–76)
  • Most points in a season, defenceman: Jeff Brown, 78 (1992–93)
  • Most points in a season, rookie: Jorgen Pettersson, 73 (1980–81)
  • Most wins in a season: Roman Turek, 42 (1999–00)
  • Most shutouts in a season: Glenn Hall, 8 (1968–69)
  • Lowest GAA in a season (min 30 GP): Roman Turek, 1.95 (1999–00)
  • Best SV% in a season (min 30 GP): Chris Mason, .916 (2008–09) [4693]


See also



References



External links




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