Since when did the entire city of St. Louis jump on the Blues bandwagon? I know the Rams are losing and the Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs, but this is ridiculous.
Last year, I could walk up the night of the game and get tickets. But now, the first three games are well on their way to becoming sellouts! Only a few very expensive seats remain.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing…but where’s the love for a fan who suffered through a season and a half of miserable hockey? I still went to all the games. I should be up for canonization for watching Mike Kitchen’s AHL team struggle to show up!
Blues games were bad last year and the ear before. Really bad. There were so few people that I started recognizing people. The guy with the Bassen jersey. The guy with the Snepsts jersey. (Yeah, you read that right. Harold freaking Snepsts.)
So what changed? How did the city of St. Louis go from extreme bitterness towards an organization who traded their star defensemen and dumped payroll to almost euphoric excitement about hockey. Here’s why:
-Dave Checketts – Obvious enough, right? But Checketts is more than a new face. He made it clear that the fans were important and that their hard earned money deserves a competitive product. He launched an aggressive promotions and marketing campaign. On the hockey side of things, he appointed local cult hero and hockey mind extraordinaire John Davidson to run the hockey operations.
-John Davidson and Andy Murray – They make this a winning franchise, and winning games gets people to buy tickets, unless you’re a corporate entity based in Nashville. John Davidson, with the help of Jarmo Kekalenin has built a formidable cast of future stars, and Andy Murray has gotten the most out of the team.
-Paul Kariya – From a business perspective, this was genius move. Kariya is the first legitimate all-star caliber name to play in St. Louis since Chris Pronger left. Say what you will about overpaying or about Kariya not being the player he once was, because that’s irrelevant from the PR side of things. The fact is, Paul Kariya is a name recognized in St. Louis even by the most casual hockey fan, and his acquisition meant that the Blues were serious about being competitive. And, he is still an excellent offensive player.
-Erik Johnson – For the first time since Pronger left, the Blues have a franchise player. He’s still unproven, but the sense among fans is that Johnson is the cornerstone for years to come. If nothing else, he has given fans hope that the Blues might be more than a perennial second round playoff loss. Here’s hoping this kid’s legit. But for now, watching him play is exciting for a lot of fans. The Blues also have Lee Stempniak, David Backes, and Jay McClement who have proven themselves to be legitimate prospect. Add in guys who have yet to play but have great potential like David Perron and TJ Oshie, and the Blues begin to look like a club that could roll out three or four scoring lines in the future.
So, the future of the Blues hockey is bright. We might make the playoffs this year, but it's not the end of the world if we don't. The young talent on this team is going to make some noise in the future, and the people of St. Louis know it.
Hopefully, I'll get my tickets earlier so I can watch live.