By: Alex Patt
After 52 years without a Stanley Cup, the St. Louis Blues won their first on Wednesday as they defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 in game 7. The Blues went on an improbable run from being in the bottom of the standings mid-season to the top of the mountain. From pure hockey/sports perspective it is an incredible story.
It can be looked at a little differently from certain fanbases…including the fans of the Blues biggest rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. As a Blackhawks fan, my reaction is full of mixed feelings.
Seeing the Blues lift that beautiful trophy that was lifted by Jonathan Toews on multiple occasions not long ago was a painful reminder that our Blackhawks are no longer the kings of the hockey world. Even in the following two seasons after their last Cup in 2015, they still made the playoffs. Fast forward to today, and the Blackhawks have had two-consecutive seasons of not making the playoffs for the first time since 2006-2007. Last year was an odd year where they got back into the hunt under Jeremy Colliton, but the putrid defense and injuries to Corey Crawford kept them out of Spring hockey. Overall it was still clear they were not a championship caliber team.
But back to the Blues winning, much of that franchise had changed even before their victory. They were the team we loved to hate when David Backes and Ryan Reaves were playing there a few years ago. Beating them in 2014 felt so incredibly good. No matter how much the Blues faithful chirped at Blackhawks fans, we just pointed to our banners while they had none. Those days are over. This is what it probably felt like being a Cardinals fan in 2016 when the Cubs won. Blue and red…red and blue, kind of funny huh?
Sure the Blackhawks still won three in six years and are “out-cupping” the Blues 6-1, but we live in the present and not the past. The blues have the bragging rights currently.
At least this Blues team in my opinion was not nearly as detestable as they were a few years ago. Backes (ironically on Boston) and others moved on and new faces came in. Some very familiar ones for those who follow the Chicago Wolves. Head coach Craig Berube, goalie Jordan Binnington, Vince Dunn, Joel Edmundson, Colton Parayko, Ivan Barbashev, Samuel Blais and others who are now champions once suited up at the Allstate Arena.
Was I ROOTING for the Blues? No. Do I still consider them a bitter rival? Yes. But I can say that this particular team winning the Cup does not make me nearly as upset as the idea of seeing one of the teams from a few years ago winning it. I admit I am happy for Berube because I really liked him as the Wolves head coach in 2017. I understand not a lot of Blackhawks fans like the Wolves these days but for those fans like me who go to their games because of their inexpensive tickets and close proximity to home, it is worth talking about.
Overall I just feel very “meh” about the whole thing. I am fully prepared for Blues fans to clap back at us for the years we teased them for not having a Cup. I suppose we had it coming just as Cardinals fans did after the Cubs defeated them in the playoffs and won it all the next year. The national broadcasts that will definitely contain matchups between these two teams will feature the Blues as the hot topic and in the spot the Blackhawks were once in for many years. I can expect Blues fans to come in numbers to games their team plays at the United Center wearing their championship gear and being a bit louder when their team scores than in years past. While I do not have a problem (like many others do) a lot of new fans will be joining the St. Louis bandwagon. Same thing happened here in Chicago, it’s the nature of winning.
I guess it is hard to be super mad about it. I already accepted the Blues were winning it all when they showed over and over again throughout April, May and June that they were a team of destiny. Plus the whole thing of getting to see our three Cups in six years makes it a bit easier as well. I would have stunk a bit more if the Blackhawks only won in 2010 and the Blues had as many championships as the Blackhawks did in the past 50 years. We still have some comfort knowing we were the team of the decade even if the past is not necessarily relevant today.
In the end, the thing I want most as a Blackhawks fan is to return to that glory. Despite all the success I crave more Cup runs and banners at the United Center. There was nothing like that feeling of a Blackhawks playoff game. The Blues took their seat on the throne, time to take it back.
Congrats to the Blues and their fans for this run. They deserve to soak up every minute of it and have fun. They’ll get to enjoy it all summer long. As for myself and the rest of Chicago, go Blackhawks.