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St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues
Conference Western
Division Central
Founded 1967
History St. Louis Blues
1967-present
Home Arena Scottrade Center
City St. Louis, Missouri
Colors Royal Blue, Dark Blue, and Gold
Media FSN Midwest
KPLR (CW 11)
KMOX (1120 AM)
Owner(s) Flag of the United States SCP Worldwide
General Manager Flag of the United States Larry Pleau
Head Coach Flag of Canada Andy Murray
Captain Vacant
Minor League Affiliates Peoria Rivermen (AHL)
Alaska Aces (ECHL)
Stanley Cups None
Conference Championships None
Division Championships 1968-69, 1969-70, 1976-77, 1980-81, 1984-85, 1986-87, 1999-2000

The St. Louis Blues are a professional men's ice hockey team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team is named after the famous W. C. Handy song "St. Louis Blues". The team plays in the 19,022 capacity Scottrade Center arena in downtown St. Louis.

Contents

Franchise history

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Early history (1967-70)

Original logo of the St. Louis Blues (1967-84).

The Blues were one of the six teams added to the NHL in the 1967 expansion, along with the Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and California Seals when the league doubled in size from its Original Six. They are, along with the Los Angeles Kings, one of the two teams from the 1967 Expansion not to have won a Stanley Cup.

St. Louis was the last of the expansion teams to officially get into the league, chosen over Baltimore at the insistence of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were owned at that time by the influential Wirtz family of Chicago, who also owned, and sought to unload, the then-decrepit St. Louis Arena. The team's first owners were insurance tycoon Sid Salomon Jr., his son, Sid Salomon III, and Robert L. Wolfson, who were granted the franchise in 1966. Sid Salomon III convinced his initially wary father to make a bid for the team. Salomon then spent several million dollars on renovations for the 38-year-old Arena, which increased the number of seats from 12,000 to 15,000 and provided its first significant maintenance since the 1940s.

The Blues were originally coached by Lynn Patrick who, after a quick resignation, was replaced by Scotty Bowman. Although the league's rules effectively kept star players with the Original Six teams, the Blues managed to stand out in the inferior Western Division. Capitalizing on a playoff format that required an expansion team to make it to the Stanley Cup finals, the Blues made it to the final round in each of their first three seasons, though they were swept first by the Montreal Canadiens in 1968 and 1969 and then the Boston Bruins in 1970.

While the first Blues' teams included aging and faded veterans like Doug Harvey, Don McKenney and Dickie Moore, the veteran goaltending tandem of Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante proved more durable, winning a Vezina Trophy in 1969 behind a sterling defense that featured players like skilled defensive forward Jim Roberts and hardrock defensemen, brothers Bob and Barclay Plager. Phil Goyette won the Lady Byng Trophy for the Blues in 1970 and New York Rangers castoff Gord Berenson became the expansion team's first major star at center. The Arena was almost always sold out and became one of the noisiest buildings in the NHL, a reputation it maintained throughout its tenure as the Blues' home.

During that time, Salomon gained a reputation throughout the league as the ultimate players' owner. He gave his players cars, signed them to deferred contracts, and treated them to vacations in Florida. The players, used to being treated like mere commodities, felt the only way they could pay him back was to give their best on the ice every night.

The Blues' Struggles (1970-77)

The Blues' successes in the late 1960s, however, did not continue into the 1970s as the playoff format changed and the Chicago Blackhawks were moved into the Western Division to bring strength to the still-inferior division. Further, the Blues lost Bowman, who went to Montreal following a power-sharing dispute with Sid Salomon III (who was taking an increasing role in team affairs), as well as Hall, Plante, Goyette, and ultimately Berenson, who were lost to retirement or trade. The Berenson trade, however, did bring then-Red Wings star center Garry Unger, who ultimately scored 30 goals in eight consecutive seasons while breaking the NHL's consecutive games played record.

Defensively, however, the Blues were less than stellar and saw Chicago and the Philadelphia Flyers overtake the division. After missing the playoffs for the first time in 1973-74, the Blues ended up in the Smythe Division after a realignment. This division, too, was particularly weak, and in 1976-77 the Blues won it while finishing five games below .500, though this would be their last playoff appearance in the decade.

In the meantime, the franchise was on the brink of financial collapse. This was partly due to the pressures of the World Hockey Association, but mostly the result of financial decisions made when the Salomons first got the franchise. For instance, the deferred contracts came due just as the Blues' performance began to slip. At one point, the Salomons seriously considered bankruptcy, and cut the team's staff down to three employees. One of them was Emile Francis, who as team president, general manager and coach, and occasionally even cleaned the Arena.

Purina Era (1977-83)

The Salomons finally found a buyer in St. Louis-based pet food giant Ralston Purina in 1977, who renamed the Arena "the Checkerdome." Minority owner Wolfson helped put together the deal with Ralston Purina, which ensured that the Blues would stay in St. Louis. Only a year after finishing with only 18 wins (still the worst season in franchise history), the Blues made the playoffs in 1980, the first of 25 consecutive playoff appearances. The team's improvement continued into 1981, when the Berenson-coached team, led by Wayne Babych (54 goals), future Hall of Famer Bernie Federko (104 points), Brian Sutter (35 goals) and goaltender Mike Liut (second to Wayne Gretzky for the Hart Trophy), finished with 45 wins and 107 points, the second best record in the league. Their regular season success, however, did not translate into the playoffs as they were eliminated by the New York Rangers in the second round. The Blues followed their generally successful 1980-81 campaign with two consecutive sub-.500 seasons, though they still managed to make playoffs each year.

Purina lost an estimated $1.8 million a year during its ownership of the Blues, but took the losses philosophically, having taken over out of a sense of civic responsibility. In 1983, Purina's longtime chairman, R. Hal Dean, retired. His successor wanted to refocus on the core pet food business, and had no interest in hockey. He only saw a division that was bleeding money, and put the Blues on the market. The Blues didn't pick anyone in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft because Purina didn't send a representative; it basically abandoned the team. It finally found a buyer in a group of investors led by WHA and Edmonton Oilers founder Bill Hunter. Hunter then made plans to move the team to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. However, the NHL was unwilling to lose a market as big as St. Louis and vetoed the deal. Hunter then padlocked the Checkerdome and turned the team over to the league. The team appeared destined for contraction when, on July 27, Harry Ornest, a Los Angeles-based businessman, came in at the 11th hour to save the franchise. Ornest immediately renamed the Checkerdome back to the St. Louis Arena.

Road to a new arena (1983-96)

Logo used (1984-98)

Ornest ran the Blues on a shoestring budget. However, the players didn't mind, because (according to Sutter) they badly wanted to stay in St. Louis. For instance, he asked many players to defer their salaries to help meet operating costs, but they always got paid in the end. During most of his tenure, the Blues had only 26 players under contract--23 in St. Louis, plus three on their farm team in Montana. Most NHL teams during the mid-1980s had over 60 players under contract.

Despite being run on the cheap, the Blues remained competitive even though they never finished more than six games over .500 in Ornest's three years as owner. During this time, Doug Gilmour, drafted by St. Louis in 1982, emerged as a superstar.

However, while the Blues remained competitive, they were unable to keep many of their young players. More often than not, several of the Blues' young guns ended up as Calgary Flames, and the sight of Flames executive Al MacNeil was always greeted with dread. In fact, several of the Blues' young stars, such as Rob Ramage and Gilmour, were main cogs in the Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup win. Sutter and Federko were probably the only untouchables. By 1986, they reached the league semi-finals against the Flames. Doug Wickenheiser's overtime goal in game six to cap a furious comeback remains one of the greatest moments in team history, known locally as the "Monday Night Miracle", but they lost game seven 2-1. After that season, Ornest sold the team to a group led by St. Louis businessman Michael Shanahan.

The Blues kept chugging along through the late 1980s and early 90s. General Manager Ron Caron made astute moves, landing Brett Hull, Adam Oates, Curtis Joseph, Brendan Shanahan and Al MacInnis, among others. While they contended during this time period, they never passed the second round of the playoffs. Still, the Blues' on-ice success was enough for a consortium of 19 companies to buy the team. They also provided the capital to build the Kiel Center (now the Scottrade Center), which opened in 1994.

Brett Hull, "The Golden Brett" became one of the league's top superstars and a scoring sensation, netting 86 goals in 1990-91 — third only to Wayne Gretzky (who played in St. Louis briefly in 1996) in NHL history — (Gretzky had a 92-goal 1981-82 season and an 87-goal 1982-83 NHL season). Only "The Great One" has found the net more often than Hull over any given three seasons. The Blues were the second-best team in the regular season in 90-91, but a second-round defeat to the Minnesota North Stars was indicative of their playoff woes, which continued throughout this decade, leading to the hiring of Mike Keenan.

From President's Trophy to the League Basement (1997-2006)

Keenan was hired as both general manager and coach prior to the abbreviated 1995 season, lauded as the "playoff coach" that could cure the postseason turmoil Blues fans had endured for years. He instituted major changes, among them trades that sent away fan favorites Brendan Shanahan and Curtis Joseph, as well as the acquisition of the legendary but aging Gretzky and goalie Grant Fuhr, both from the falling-apart Los Angeles Kings (Gretzky left for the New York Rangers as an unrestricted free agent following the season). In spite of all he was prophesied to accomplish, Keenan's playoff resume with St. Louis included a first-round exit in 1995 and a second-round exit in 1996. Neither the fans nor the team ownership were fond of Keenan or what he did, and he was fired on December 19, 1996. Caron was reinstated as interim general manager for the rest of season, and current GM Larry Pleau was hired on June 9, 1997. But that did not stop Hull, who had nevertheless endured a lengthy feud with Keenan, from leaving for the Dallas Stars in 1998, who went on to win the Stanley Cup the next year.

Defenseman Chris Pronger (acquired from the Hartford Whalers in 1995 for Shanahan), Pavol Demitra, Pierre Turgeon, Al MacInnis, and goalie Roman Turek kept the Blues a contender. In 1999-2000, they notched a franchise-record 114 points during the regular season, earning the Presidents' Trophy for the league's best record. However, they were stunned by the San Jose Sharks in the first round in seven games. In 2001, the Blues advanced to the Western Conference Finals before bowing out in five games to eventual Champions Colorado Avalanche. They remained competitive for the next three years, but never got past the second round.

Despite years of mediocrity and the stigma of never being able to "take the next step", the Blues were a playoff presence every year from 1980 to 2004 — the second longest active streak in North American professional sports at the time. Amid several questionable personnel moves and an unstable ownership situation, the Blues finished the 2005-06 season with their worst record in 27 years. They missed the playoffs for only the fourth time in franchise history. Also, for the first time in club history, the normally excellent support seen by St. Louisans began to fade away, with crowds normally numbering around 12,000, a far cry from the team's normal high (about 18,000 in a 19,500 seat arena) and a sign that the city's sports fans had lost faith in the team's ability to play quality hockey.Wal-Mart heir Nacy Laurie and husband, Bill purchased the Blues in 1999, but on June 17, 2005 announced that he would sell the team, after years of what many saw as general neglect of the team due to former Memphis Final Four guard Bill Laurie's overriding desire to buy an NBA team. On September 29, 2005 it was announced that the Lauries signed an agreement to sell the Blues to SCP Worldwide. On November 14, 2005 the Blues announced that Checketts' group, SCP Worldwide, had officially withdrawn from negotiations to buy the team. On December 27, 2005 it was announced that the Blues had signed a letter of intent to exclusively negotiate with General Sports and Entertainment, LLC. However, after the period of exclusivity, SCP entered the picture again. On March 24, 2006, the Lauries completed the sale of the Blues and the lease to the Savvis Center to Sports Capital Partners (SCP) and TowerBrook Capital Partners, L.P.

Under new management, the Blues promptly installed John Davidson as team president, moving the much-maligned Pleau to a mostly advisory role. The former Rangers goalie promptly made some big deals, picking up Jay McKee, Bill Guerin and Manny Legace from free agency, and bringing Doug Weight back to St. Louis after a brief (and productive) stopover in Carolina. Davidson is attempting to build a strong American base of players for the Blues.

The Rebuilding: Present (2006-)

Following the disappointing 2005-06 season, which saw the Blues with the worst record in the NHL, the new management focused on rebuilding the franchise. At the beginning of the 2007 season, the Blues looked to be competitive in the Central Division. However, injuries plagued the team all season, and the lack of a sniper hampered them as well. Fan support was sluggish during the first half of the campaign, and the end of the calendar year was capped by an 11-game losing streak. On December 11, 2006, the Blues fired coach Mike Kitchen and replaced by former Los Angeles Kings coach Andy Murray. [1]. On January 4, 2007, the Blues had a record of 6-1-3 in their previous 10 games, which was the best in the NHL during that stretch. Despite a healthy 24-point jump from the previous season, the strain of playing in a conference where seven teams finished with more than 100 points kept them out of the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Just prior to the 2007 Trade Deadline, the Blues traded Bill Guerin to the San Jose Sharks (Ville Nieminen and draft picks), Keith Tkachuk to the Atlanta Thrashers (Glen Metropolit and two unconditional picks in 2007 and a 1st round conditional pick), and Dennis Wideman to the Boston Bruins (Brad Boyes).

On June 30, 2007, the Blues signed Tkachuk, after receiving his rights from Atlanta on June 26. Since the Blues acquired exclusive negotiating rights with Tkachuk and re-signed him to a two-year deal, Atlanta will now receive a conditional fourth-round pick in 2008.

On July 1, 2007, the Blues signed free agent Paul Kariya to a 3-year contract worth $18 million, and also re-signed defenseman Barret Jackman to a one-year contract.

On July 9, 2007, after having been put on waivers, Dallas Drake, the Blues' captain for two seasons, signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings, temporarily leaving the captain spot vacant.[1]

On July 23, 2007, the Blues traded prospect Carl Soderberg to the Boston Bruins, for goalie Hannu Toivonen.[2]

On September 16, 2007, the Blues had their first pre-season game against the Atlanta Thrashers. The Blues lost 3-1 while Paul Kariya scored the Blues' only goal. [3]

On October 2, 2007 the Blues finalized the season starting roster which included 19 year old rookie David Perron and Steve Wagner. In addition the Blues waived long-time center Peter Cajanek who, on October 21, 2007 signed a 1-year, $900,000 deal to play for Kazan in the Russian Super League for the rest of the season. He hopes to return to the NHL someday.

On October 4, 2007, the Alaska Aces agreed to a one-year affiliation extension with the Blues and the Peoria Rivermen. [4]

On October 10, 2007, the Blues introduced a new mascot: Louie

On November 8, after asking for a trade, Jason Bacashihua was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche for future considerations.[5]

Team Information

Arena

The Blues play in the 19,022 capacity Scottrade Center, where they've played since 1994. Previously the team played in the St. Louis Arena, where the old St. Louis Eagles played, and which the original owners had to buy as a condition of the 1967 NHL expansion.

Current 2007-08 jerseys

Jerseys

Like all NHL teams, the Blues updated their jerseys for the 2007-08 season with new Rbk Edge jerseys. The Blues simplified their design compared to previous jerseys, with only the blue note logo on the front. There are no 'third jerseys' for the 2007-08 season.

Season-by-season record

This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Blues. For the full season-by-season history, see St. Louis Blues seasons

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Season GP W L T1 OTL Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
2001-02 82 43 27 8 4 98 227 188 1343 2nd in Central Lost in Conference Semifinals, 1-4 (Red Wings)
2002-03 82 41 24 11 6 99 253 222 1618 2nd in Central Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 3-4 (Canucks)
2003-04 82 39 30 11 2 91 191 198 1274 2nd in Central Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 1-4 (Sharks)
2004-05 Season cancelled due to 2004-05 NHL Lockout
2005-06 82 21 46 -- 15 57 197 292 1355 5th in Central Did not qualify
2006-07 82 34 35 -- 13 81 214 254 1070 3rd in Central Did not qualify
1 As of the 2005-06 NHL season, all games will have a winner; the OTL column includes SOL (Shootout losses).

Notable players

Current roster

As of October 2, 2007. [6]

Goaltenders
# Player Catches Acquired Place of Birth
34 Flag of Canada Manny Legace L 2006 Alliston, Ontario
35 Flag of Finland Hannu Toivonen L 2007 Kalvola, Finland
<center>Defensemen
# Player Shoots Acquired Place of Birth
4 Flag of Canada Eric Brewer L 2005 Vernon, British Columbia
5 Flag of Canada Barret JackmanA L 1999 Trail, British Columbia
6 Flag of the United States Erik Johnson R 2006 Bloomington, Minnesota
27 Flag of Canada Bryce SalvadorA L 1996 Brandon, Manitoba
28 Flag of Canada Matt Walker R 1998 Beaverlodge, Alberta
49 Flag of the United States Steven Wagner L 2007 Grand Rapids, Minnesota
55 Flag of Sweden Christian Backman L 1998 Alingsås, Sweden
77 Flag of Canada Jay McKee L 2006 Kingston, Ontario
<center>Forwards
# Player Position Shoots Acquired Place of Birth
7 Flag of the United States Keith TkachukA LW L 2007 Melrose, Massachusetts
9 Flag of Canada Paul KariyaA LW L 2007 Vancouver, British Columbia
12 Flag of the United States Lee Stempniak RW R 2005 West Seneca, New York
13 Flag of the United States Dan Hinote RW R 2006 Leesburg, Florida
17 Flag of Canada Ryan Johnson C L 2003 Thunder Bay, Ontario
18 Flag of Canada Jay McClement C L 2001 Kingston, Ontario
19 Flag of Canada D.J. King LW L 2002 Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan
21 Flag of Canada Jamal MayersA RW R 1993 Toronto, Ontario
22 Flag of Canada Brad Boyes C R 2007 Mississauga, Ontario
39 Flag of the United States Doug WeightA C L 2006 Warren, Michigan
42 Flag of the United States David Backes C R 2003 Minneapolis, Minnesota
57 Flag of Canada David Perron LW R 2007 Fleurimont, Quebec
26 Flag of the Czech Republic Martin Rucinsky LW L 2006 Most, Czechoslovakia

Team captains


Hall of Famers

Players
Broadcasters
  • Dan Kelly, play-by-play broadcaster, 1968-1989, inducted 1989

Retired numbers

Officially retired

Honored numbers

  • 5 Bob Plager, D, 1967-78, number not officially retired but honored.
  • 14 Doug Wickenheiser, LW, 1984-87, number honored and unofficially retired
  • No number Dan Kelly, Broadcaster, 1968-89, recognized with an honorary shamrock that hangs from the rafters at Scottrade Center

First-round draft picks


Franchise scoring leaders

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Blues player

Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Bernie Federko C 927 352 721 1073 1.16
Brett Hull RW 744 527 409 936 1.26
Brian Sutter LW 779 303 333 636 .82
Garry Unger C 662 292 283 575 .87
Pavol Demitra LW/C 494 204 289 493 1.00
Al MacInnis D 613 127 325 452 .74
Red Berenson LW 519 172 240 412 .79
Chris Pronger D 598 84 272 356 .60
Pierre Turgeon C 327 134 221 355 1.09
Doug Gilmour C 384 149 205 354 .92

NHL awards and trophies


Franchise individual records

  • Most Goals in a season: Brett Hull, 86 (1990-91)
  • Most Assists in a season: Adam Oates, 90 (1990-91)
  • Most Points in a season: Brett Hull, 131 (1990-91)
  • Most Penalty Minutes in a season: Bob Gassoff, 306 (1975-76)
  • Most Points in a season, defenseman: Jeff Brown, 78 (1992-93)
  • Most Points in a season, rookie: Jorgen Pettersson, 73 (1980-81)
  • Most Wins in a season: Roman Turek, 42 (1999-00)

References

"Robert L. Wolfson," Obituary, Chicago Sun Times (2/5/2007) p.61

  1. Drake back where it all began. nhl.com. Retrieved on 2007-07-10.

See also

External links

  • Official website of the St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues
FranchisePlayersCoaches • GMs • Seasons • Records • Draft picks • Louie • Scottrade CenterSt. Louis ArenaPeoria RivermenAlaska Aces
St. Louis Blues Head Coaches
Patrick • Bowman • Arbour • Abel • McCreary • Talbot • Angotti • Young • Boivin • Francis • Plager • Berenson • Demers • Sutter • B. Plager • Berry • Keenan • Roberts • Quenneville • Kitchen • Murray
St. Louis Blues Head Seasons
1967-68 • 1968-69 • 1969-70 • 1970-71 • 1971-72 • 1972-73 • 1973-74 • 1974-75 • 1975-76 • 1976-77 • 1977-78 • 1978-79 • 1979-80 • 1980-81 • 1981-82 • 1982-83 • 1983-84 • 1984-85 • 1985-86 • 1986-87 • 1987-88 • 1988-89 • 1989-90 • 1990-91 • 1991-92 • 1992-93 • 1993-94 • 1994-95 • 1995-96 • 1996-97 • 1997-98 • 1998-99 • 1999-00 • 2000-01 • 2001-02 • 2002-03 • 2003-04 • 2004-05 • 2005-06 • 2006-07 • 2007-08


This article uses material from the "St. Louis Blues" article on the Ice Hockey wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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