No one would be surprised if everyone in St. Louis lost their voice last night singing “Gloria” at the top of their lungs.
As is tradition in this year’s playoffs, the Blues played their popular victory song after beating the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference final and earning their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1970. The win sets up a Stanley Cup showdown against the Boston Bruins, the same team the Blues faced the last time they played for the Cup 49 long years ago.
Much like the Maple Leafs, who play Hall and Oates’ hit single “You Make My Dreams” with every goal scored on home ice, Laura Branigan’s hit single has become synonymous with hockey in St. Louis. And since the Blues keep winning, the people of St. Louis and those tuning in on TV have heard this song a lot.
But as the Blues emerge from the West, with hopes of wrapping up the single greatest turnaround season in NHL history with the Cup hoisted over their heads, there’s another song that seems to have taken a life of its own in St. Louis.
John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” may seem like an odd fan favourite in Missouri, since it’s long been considered the state anthem for West Virginia. But the Blues’ in-game entertainment staff has been blasting this tune every game in the third period since February, and the fans just can’t seem to get enough of it.
The Blues’ historic Stanley Cup run appears to have two official anthems, a development that was just as accidental as it has been enjoyable.
Jason Pippi, the Blues’ game operations director and University of Pittsburgh graduate, initially tried to introduce a Neil Diamond classic to hockey fans in St. Louis. But when “Sweet Caroline” fell flat with Blues fans, Pippi had to regroup.
"(Sweet Caroline is) a Pitt classic, but it didn't stick anywhere nearly as much as Country Roads," Pippi shared with WVU Sports. "It was a bit of a mistake how it happened. It came up in the office, 'So, what about Country Roads, everyone loves that one' and I said, 'I'll tell you what, I hate it!' But everyone knows the words to it.”
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" made its debut at the Enterprise Center in early February at the start of the third period during a blowout win over the Nashville Predators. It wasn’t exactly a smooth debut, as Pippi had apparently mistimed the chorus and was forced to turn the music off when the play resumed. But as the ref dropped the puck, the crowd continued by singing the chorus during play.
Pippi tried it again at the Blues’ next home game and once again, the fans continued to sing the song until the very end.
"I remember standing there saying, 'What is happening in this place?'" Pippi said. "It's one of those fan-driven, organic things. I've been with a few teams that would love to get their crowd to do things like this and the fact that our fans are so into the game and so into the team, they want to be a part of this.
"Everyone knows John Denver. Everyone knows Country Roads, and it's kind of become our seventh-inning stretch, 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' in a way. It's become a big tradition for us, and it's taken off.
“And now, here we are looking down the barrel of the Stanley Cup."
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