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Home / Sports / Despised by some, Original Blues laid the foundation for hockey in St. Louis St. Louis Blues

Despised by some, Original Blues laid the foundation for hockey in St. Louis St. Louis Blues




"Hockey version of the" Nouveau Riche "are the St. Louis Blues.The Blues have been Stanley Cup finalists for two years, but that does not mean they reached the final by defeating their small league opponents in the West Division defeated and the blues proved they were less than top notch when the chips came out. "

These were the words of Stan Fischler before the Stanley Cup final in 1

970, a writer named after legendary columnist Bob Broeg Shipping described as a New York-based "freelance hacker."

Broeg did not like being hacked at the blues of his city.

After all, the blues had nothing to do with the expansion rules, which were far less generous than the existing ones for the Vegas Golden Knights expansion a few years ago.

They had nothing to do with the fact that the NHL added six expansion teams at once – doubling the size of the league – and all s echs expansion teams placed in a division. This meant that the winner in the West for the Stanley Cup would face an established team from the big, evil East.

"We are so proud of what we have done," one of those original blues, Bobby Plager. said Friday. "We did not win the Stanley Cup, but we were there, I used to say if you do not win the Stanley Cup, you lose, which means you're the number two."

These blues were a mix aging stars and career minor leagues who starved after a chance. But they had a great work ethic, an incredible coach at Scotty Bowman, and they happened to represent the West – the expansion division – at the Stanley Cup final in the first three years of their existence.

Obviously that was not the case a fair fight. The Blues have lost all three Cup finals – to Montreal in 1968 and 1969 and to Boston in 1970.

When the last of these Cup finalists lost to the Bruins in 1970, Broeg wrote prophetically about the future might hold:

"Realistically, it will be some time before the blues reach the Stanley Cup final. Chicago is moving west and some important players are getting older. One of those years, hopefully sooner rather than later, the old Stanley Cup … will be carted away by a blues captain, as Boston's Johnny Bucyk drove off yesterday with the prize. "

It turned out that was later than earlier – 49 years later.

But they finally made it back. Tuesday's 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks made the blues the fourth time in franchise history, and for the first time since 1970, the best in the West. No one is happier with the current blues than the 76-year-old plague, who is still active as a blues ambassador.

Of the original defenders of the 1967-1968 team, Plager is the only one alive. Brothers Barclay Plager, Noel Picard, Al Arbor, and defender / striker Jimmy Roberts have all disappeared from the 1970s D Corps Boston had come up with for the trophy, a city with these three consecutive cup appearances. Teenagers who had never skated before began skating. Those who have never learned to skate have played street hockey.

Bob recalls that in the early days he entertained youth hockey schools with Brother Barclay and teammates like Picard and Red Berenson, when St. Louis had only two ice halls: the Arena and the Winterland.

With their immediate success and their involvement in the childhood of youth hockey, the seeds were planted. St. Louis would not be the hockey town today without the original blues.

In the 2016 NHL draft, five St. Louisans were recorded in the first round. In Game 7 of the Western Conference semi-final between the Blues and Dallas on May 7, a St. Louisan (Pat Maroon) scored the double-goal winner against a St. Louis (Ben Bishop).

But in May 1970, the Blues were strong outsiders and the subject of ridicule in the Cup final. As an emerging powerhouse, the Bruins had 11 players at the age of 25 or younger, including the 22-year-old defender Bobby Orr.

The Blues had nine players who had played elsewhere for Stanley Cup champions, including Jean-Guy Talbot (seven cups) and Captain Arbor (trophies with three different franchises). But Talbot and Arbor were both 37 years old. Future goalkeepers of the Hall of Famer Jacques Plante and Glenn Hall were 41 and 38.

In Game 1 of the 1970 Final Plante was knocked unconscious by a deflected shot from Fred Stanfield, who cracked the mask.

"He was doing the hospital almost for the whole series," said Bobby Plager. "That got him done. He could not play anymore. "

Brother Barclay lost to the series with a broken sternum in Game 1. Hall entered injured in the series. Bobby Plager and Arbor played with separate shoulders.

To cope with the pain, Bobby Plager said, he needed "23 needles per game, we stunned and frozen it, but it did not work."

Even at full strength, the blues would have had problems with Orr, Bucyk, Phil Esposito, Derek Sanderson, Gerry Cheevers, and Co. less than full strength The Bruins won 6: 1, 6: 2 and 4: 1 in games 1 to 3 and did not shy away from making verbal strikes on the blues.

"I thought that would be much harder "Sanderson said after Game 1." They never threw a check all night, they are only known in the West Division for body checks. "

After Game 2 – Game 2! – The city of Boston announced plans for their Stanley Cup victory parade. When the series returned to Boston for Games 3 and 4, Sanderson lamented the fact that he was unlikely to return to St. Louis.

"You have a lot of good-looking women in this city, but I & # 39; I'd rather end the show in Boston, "he said.

That's what they did. But the battered blues pushed Boston to the limit in Game 4, losing 4-3 to Orr in extra time.

"Well, they can not laugh at us now," Bowman said. "We did pretty well today. It was a matter of pride. Nobody wants to be humiliated.

The Bruins gave the blues reluctant respect.

"Do not be too hard on them," Cheevers told reporters. "They have some good hockey players, but none (depth), which made their injuries very clear . "

And the great Orr:" They certainly played like professional athletes, they looked like champions, the blues. "

Forty-nine years later, the blues are still looking for this championship.


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