The Blues were one of the six teams to enter the league in 1967 when the NHL doubled in size. The newcomers were hampered by restrictive rules that kept virtually all the top players with the existing teams.
Although the Blues, originally coached by Lynn Patrick, then Scotty Bowman, made the Stanley Cup finals in each of their first three years of existence, they failed to win a game, losing twice to the Montreal Canadiens and once to the Boston Bruins. The first Blues teams included aging retreads like Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante and Dickie Moore, in addition to younger and relatively inexperienced talent like Red Berenson and Bob and Barclay Plager St. Louis has not been back to the finals since.
Through the 1970s, the Blues, playing mostly sub-.500 hockey, were on the brink of financial collapse. Ralston Purina invested in the team, and by 1980 they were the second-best team in the league in the regular season, with Berenson as coach, Wayne Babych scoring 54 goals, and Bernie Federko leading the team in scoring. The Blues fell flat in the playoffs that year, losing in six games to the New York Rangers in the second round.
The Blues quietly slid back below .500, but they still made the playoffs in 1982 (and have done so every year since 1980). The team was still faltering off the ice. Purina got out of its investment with the team and padlocked the arena. The team looked destined for a move to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1983 before the league blocked the sale to investors in that city, and ended up having to take over the team itself.
After Harry Ornest ended up purchasing the team, it became competitive both on and off the ice. Doug Gilmour, drafted by St. Louis in 1982, emerged as a superstar. By 1986, they reached the league semi-finals against the Calgary Flames. Doug Wickenheiser's overtime goal in game 6 to cap a furious comeback remains one of the greatest moments in team history, but they lost game 7 2-1.
Demers left for the rival Detroit Red Wings that summer, but the Blues kept chugging along. General Manager Ron Caron was one of the more astute in the league, landing Brett Hull, Adam Oates, Curtis Joseph, Brendan Shanahan and Al MacInnis, among others, through the late 1980s and early 1990s. Always a contender during this time period, they never passed the second round of the playoffs.
Hull remained one of the league's top superstars, scoring 86 goals in 1990-1991 - second only to Wayne Gretzky (who himself played in St. Louis briefly in 1996) in goals scored in a season in NHL history. The Blues were the second-best team in the regular season last year, but a second-round defeat to the Minnesota North Stars was exemplary of their playoff woes.
Mike Keenan was hired as general manager and coach and quickly instituted some major changes. Gone was Brendan Shanahan, for instance, and in was an aging Wayne Gretzky (who immediately bolted to the New York Rangers following the season). Neither the fans nor the team ownership was fond of what he did, and he was fired in 1996.
Still, defenseman Chris Pronger (acquired from the Hartford Whalers in 1995), Pavol Demitra, Pierre Turgeon, and goalie Roman Turek, continued to make the Blues a contender. In 1999-2000 they had the best record in the NHL during the regular season, but were stunned by the San Jose Sharks in the first round.
In 2001 the Blues made the conference finals before bowing out to the eventual champion Colorado Avalanche.
Players of Note
Hall of Famers:
Not to be forgotten:
St. Louis Blues official web site
One of the first blues songs to succeed as a pop song, performed by everyone from Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith to Glenn Miller and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Written and published by W.C. Handy in 1914. It has been called "the jazzman's Hamlet".
The form is unusual in that the verses are the familiar standard 12-bar blues in common time with three lines of lyrics, the first two lines repeated, but it also has a 16-bar bridge written in the Cuban habaņera rhythm.
The opening line, "I hate to see that evenin' sun go down" may be of the most recognizable lyrics in all of pop music and set the tone for all the blues songs that have followed.\n