(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers and fans who hate them the most. Here is Blackhawks fan Eliza Eaton-Stern of The Other Half, remembering the 2014-15 St. Louis Blues. Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)
By Eliza Eaton-Stern
I’m not gonna lie, friends. I thought long and hard about doing a sarcastic eulogy, a sort of reverse we-come-to-bury-Caesar-not-to-praise-him Marc Antony thing.
(For you Blues fans, that’s a reference to William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar.)
(Again, for you Blues fans, William Shakespeare was a man from England who wrote plays in the late 1500s and early 1600s.)
England is a country in Europe.
In the end, though, why be sarcastic? Why be anything but straightforward?
There’s no need to damn this year’s iteration of the St. Louis Blues with faint praise. I don’t have to pretend to laud their front office’s keen scouting eye for picking up a scrappy young ‘un by the name of Martin Brodeur on the off chance he might make it one day in the NHL.
Friends, Romans, Canadians, we are here to eulogize the 2014-15 St. Louis Blues.
First, let’s just take a moment and rewatch the hype video the Blues put out when they signed Martin Brodeur and have a chuckle. I’ll wait.
The noble hockey pundits have told you again and again throughout the 82 games of the regular season that the Blues were ambitious. If it were so, they sure as shit failed to live up to that ambition, and they’ve answered it pretty goddamn grievously. They had the ambition to do what Gretzky could not: To bring the Blues their first Stanley Cup since entering the league in ’67.
Instead, they pulled their yearly disappearing act under the onslaught of the incredibly underrated - but still far below them in the standings - Minnesota Wild.
Ambition, my friends, should be made of sterner stuff.
This was to be their year. This was the year that Jake Allen finally matured into the Great Goalie Savior the fine people of St. Louis always dreamed he would be, the year that Tarasenko finally got a center worthy of his frankly pants-wettingly terrifying skills in Jori Lehterä, the year that St. Louis finally got out from under the shadows of the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks and shed the albatross of their past failures.
They had all the pieces in place.
Except, no. No, they did not.
They never got the chance to test their might against either the Kings or the Hawks in the postseason. The only cup they will lift is filled with the watery St. Louis-brewed horse piss people drink in Missouri to drown their sorrows as they attempt to convince themselves that the only sport they really care about is baseball.
The only crown the Blues will wear this season is the mantle of Regular Season Central Division Champions, one which Blues fans apparently wear with enough pride that some will shell out $25.95 for a T-shirt, still available at the NHL’s finest online retail establishments.
Wear it with whatever emotion replaces pride in the disappointed wreckage of your souls, Blues fans.
It’s unsurprising that Blues fans are hollering for big changes. This is Missouri, holler is basically a second language. (Or rather, a first language. I’ve been to Branson, and I’m not 100 percent sure what those folks were speaking but I do know it bore only a passing resemblance to English.)
The problem is, most of the changes are things that they’ve already done. They’ve made adjustments. They’ve tried to solve their goalie problem multiple times over. If they fire Ken Hitchcock - looking increasingly likely, though not yet done at time of writing - we all know the man will be unemployed for maybe four minutes.
I would humbly submit that maybe the problem isn’t team composition or coaching or goalkeeping or even the continued employment of Steve Ott. Maybe the problem runs deeper than any of that.
Maybe St. Louis is cursed.
I’m not gonna claim that the Scottrade Center is built on an ancient burial ground, or that Jacques Plante cursed the Blues upon being traded to Toronto so that the Blues would never again return to the Stanley Cup Finals. I’m also not saying that the entire franchise should be dismantled and the earth where the arena stands salted, Carthage-like, so that nothing else can grow there to inevitably disappoint the fine people of St. Louis. (Well, the people of St. Louis.)
You can’t tell me this isn’t the face of a man who knows a few good curses.
But when a team looks good enough on paper to make this Hawks fan kinda want to vomit a little in her mouth, is heralded by all and sundry as the next juggernaut, and when the only thing standing between them and a parade through the streets is the occasional soothsayer nobody listens to and the fact that games aren’t played on paper? Well, you just gotta wonder.
It’s time to face the facts I’m making up, people. As long as Puck Daddy has been doing team eulogies, bloggers of far greater whatever the blogger equivalent of renown is than yours truly have been pointing out that the calling card of this iteration of the St. Louis Blues is to put out an impressive regular season performance and then crap out a giant, steaming turd of disappointment directly on the ice, crushing all of the hopes of hapless hockey loving Missourians everywhere. And every year, Hitch makes gruffly sincere promises, the front office picks up Totally The Answer To The One Thing Keeping Us From The Cup, Guys, We Swear, and the beautiful dance begins again.
This year, let’s fully eulogize the St. Louis Blues.
Let’s not poke fun at a few easy targets - i.e. the polluted armpit of the Mississippi River that is the city of St. Louis, the few easy-to-laugh-at fans whose photos have turned into memes among those who loathe the franchise, David Backes’s gormless, Baptist youth pastor face, TJ Oshie’s admittedly hilarious middle name and equally hilarious playoff disappearing act, Barret Jackman’s general demeanor suggesting a true calling as an extra in a 1980s movie adaptation of Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men or the sweatshirt that encapsulates Ken Hitchcock’s coaching philosophy.
HOCKEY. What does it all mean? Is it a commentary on the overcoaching of the game in our modern era? Does it represent the emptiness of the days that fill our lives except when filled with puck? We may never know.
That’s the easy way, friends. Grasping only at the low-hanging fruit allows the Blues to come back, to disappoint their faithful fans year after year. As fun as it is to watch the hopes and dreams of the city of St. Louis get crushed year in and year out - and god knows, it is fun - haven’t they suffered enough?
The face of suffering, folks.
Instead, let’s eulogize them good and proper. Together let us, the collective senators of the hockey republic, do what needs to be done. We need to recognize that the St. Louis Blues are as constant as the north star, and will never be moved by the prayers of their faithful. They are as they have always been and will always be. This season they reached their highest heights, bestrode the Central Division like a colossus. And still they fell.
So friends, let us bury the Blues, not fake-praise them. Because unless we do, literally nothing will change. Ken Hitchcock may depart for teal-greener pastures out west, Elliot might request a trade and get his delightful (she says begrudgingly, having watched this year’s All Star Skills Competition) self somewhere else, a few mid-level components might get broken off and replaced, but this will happen again and again, on into eternity.
Instead, let’s find a better solution - for we are all honorable men. (And women.)
I’m just saying.
I’ll go get my toga.