Play “Gloria” – Blues beat Bruins in Stanley Cup Finals
“How are you supposed to drink in St. Louis if there aren’t any cups?” For years, Blues fans were tormented by this joke, referencing the team’s lack of Stanley Cups. On Wednesday, that joke died with the Blues 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. This title run is one of the most remarkable in recent professional sports. The Blues had not won the Stanley Cup in 52 years of existence. In January, the Blues were last in the league table. Six months later, the team sits atop the hockey world. With their magical run complete, we highlight the keys to their success- the willingness to reset, the ability to recover, and their commitment to their fanbase.
Hitting the Reset Button Paid Off
After their Game 7 win, Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko told reporters, “this season feels like three different years.” At the very least, the story of the 2018-19 Blues is a two-parter. January 2 and June 12 will forever remain in the minds of Blues fans. The first marks the day the team sat last in the league; the second marks the day they hoisted the Stanley Cup. How did the Blues shift their performance so quickly? They were willing to completely transform their team.
The Blues overhaul is exemplified in two key figures- their goalie and coach. Jordan Binnington began this season in the minor leagues. After poor performances from multiple goalies, new Blues coach Craig Berube called upon Binnington to turn the tide. He performed remarkably in the regular season, then other-wordly in the playoffs. His 32 saves in Game 7 were the most ever for a rookie in a Cup clinching game. Binnington was a forgotten entity under old coach Mike Yeo. When given his chance, he led his franchise to glory.
In November, Yeo was fired and replaced by Berube. A former Blues player immediately noticed the difference in culture, noting he had a much stronger connection with the players. They fully bought into his vision and trusted his schemes. Along with Binnington, Berube instigated a full reset of the franchise, with a Stanley Cup Final victory to show for it.
The Blues’ Ability to Recover Fueled a Deep Playoff Run
Players love Berube for his focus on overcoming mistakes.This mentality is of course reflected in their amazing season-long turnaround. The Blues’ resilience was just as pronounced in the postseason. In the first and second rounds, the Blues twice lost back-to-back games, only to respond by reeling off wins to close the series. In the Western Conference finals, an illegal hand pass cost the Blues Game 3. They turned around and won three straight to reach the Stanley Cup. Game 3 and Game 6 of the finals were the most anticipated home games in Blues history- they lost both. Staying true to form, they won the following games. In each playoff series, the Blues recovered from mistakes. They did it consistently enough to win them a Stanley Cup.
The Stanley Cup is for the city of St. Louis
For St. Louis, this Stanley Cup is a symbolic win years in the making. They’ve waited half a century for a Cup. But the wounds of St. Louis fandom were deepened three years ago when the Rams announced a move to Los Angeles. On the way out, the owner of the Rams condemned the city, calling it a “declining market with a weak economy,” and believing it unworthy of three professional teams. The people of St. Louis were abandoned. To make matters worse, they had little success to show for. In addition to the Blues drought, the Cardinals have missed the playoffs for three straight years, something unheard of for the storied franchise. St. Louis became a national afterthought. When the final horn sounded on Game 7, the city finally had something to relish. For St. Louis, the Blues’ Stanley Cup healed wounds that festered for decades. For the first time in years, St. Louis, Missouri was the center of the sporting world.
The St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup Champions. Before Wednesday night, that sentence could not be written. ESPN writer Greg Wyshynski called the Blues “the wallpaper” of the NHL. They were always there, always in the playoffs, but were never given attention. Now, all eyes are on them. Midseason overhauls, correction of failures, and loyalty to the natives of St. Louis led to a world title. Congratulations, St. Louis, there is now a cup to drink from, one fit for champions.