St. Louis Blues

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The St. Louis Blues are a professional hockey team based in St. Louis. The team is named after the famous W. C. Handy tune "St. Louis Blues".

Franchise History

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 Oakland Seals, when the league doubled in size. The newcomers were, however, hampered by restrictive rules that kept virtually all the top players with the existing "Original Six" teams.

St. Louis was the last of the expansion teams to officially get in the league. It was selected over Baltimore at the insistence of the Blackhawks (owned by the influential Wirtz Family of Chicago), who wanted to unload the decrepit St. Louis Arena, which they also owned, to a new franchise holder. The team's first owner was insurance tycoon Sid Salomon, Jr. His son, Sid III, convinced his initially wary father to make a bid for the team. Salomon then spent several million dollars upgrading the 38-year-old arena, which had not been well maintained since the 1940s, to NHL standards. By opening night, the arena boasted almost 15,000 seats, up from 12,000 at the start of 1967. It never stopped being renovated from that day on, and held almost 20,000 seats by the time the Blues left the arena in 1994.

Red Berenson led the Blues in scoring in their first two seasons

The Blues, originally coached by Lynn Patrick and then Scotty Bowman, proved to be the class of the admittedly weak Western Division. The playoff format guaranteed one of the expansion teams would make the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Blues would play for the Cup in each of their first three years of existence, although they failed to win a single game in any of the three final series', losing to Boston in 1970, and Montreal in 1968 and 1969. 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 featuring players like skilled defensive forward Jim Roberts and hardrock defensemen, the Plager brothers, Barclay and Bob. New York Rangers castoff Red Berenson became the expansion team's first major star at center, and Phil Goyette won the Lady Byng Trophy for the Blues in 1970. The Arena was almost always sold out, and became one of the loudest buildings in the National Hockey League; the waiting list for season tickets soon rivaled that of the Green Bay Packers.

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. Players like Plante, Hall and Harvey were used to being treated like serfs, and felt the only way to pay Salomon back was to leave everything on the ice every night.

Back to Earth (1970-77)

The 1970s were less kind to the Blues. Continuing imbalance led the league to transfer the Blackhawks to the West Divsion for 1970-71, and to introduce a "crossover" playoff format that would ultimately exclude any of the expansion teams from the finals for the next three seasons. Bowman left for Montreal in 1971 after a feud with Sid Salomon III, who began to take a greater role in running the team. Older stars such as Hall, Plante and Goyette retired or were traded, as was Berenson for star Detroit Red Wings center Garry Unger. Unger scored thirty or more goals eight straight seasons for the franchise en route to breaking the NHL record for most consecutive games played, but beyond the Plagers on defense talent was thin, and the division was soon dominated by Chicago and Philadelphia. St. Louis missed the playoffs outright for the first time in 1974. Realignment placed the team in the Smythe Division the next season and the team got a few good seasons out of forward Chuck Lefley and the reacquired Berenson, but the division in general was so weak as to become a cliche for mediocrity — the Blues won the division title in 1977 while finishing five games under .500 — and they missed the playoffs the two seasons following behind disastrous goaltending.

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 largely due to financial decisions made when the Salomons first got the franchise. 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 served as team president, coach and general manager and even swept the Arena at times.

Purina to the Rescue (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." 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 straight playoff appearances. By 1981, they were the second-best team in the league in the regular season, with Berenson as coach and fresh new stars, including Wayne Babych scoring 54 goals, future Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie Federko (who would lead the team in scoring), inspirational leader Brian Sutter and franchise goaltender Mike Liut. The Blues fell flat in the playoffs that year, losing in six games to the New York Rangers in the second round. The Blues quietly slid back below .500, but they still made the playoffs in 1982 and 1983 despite finishing well below .500 in both seasons.

Rescued from the Brink Again (1983-86)

Logo used (1984-98)

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 World Hockey Association 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 in July when 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.

Ornest ran the Blues on a shoestring budget, but the team returned to respectability almost immediately. 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 Doug 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, but they lost game seven 2-1. After that season, Ornest sold the team to a group led by St. Louis businessman Michael Shanahan.

Close, but No Cigar (1986-present)

The current team logo. (1998-present)

The Blues kept chugging along through the late 1980s and early 1990s. General Manager Ron Caron was one of the more astute in the league, landing Brett Hull, Adam Oates, Curtis Joseph, Brendan Shanahan (no relation to Michael) 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.

Hull remained one of the league's top superstars, scoring 86 goals in 1990-91 — second only to Wayne Gretzky (who played in St. Louis briefly in 1995-96) in goals scored in a season in NHL history. The Blues were the second-best team in the regular season that year, but a second-round defeat to the Minnesota North Stars was indicative of their playoff woes.

"Iron" Mike Keenan was hired as both general manager and coach prior to the 1994-95 NHL 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 prophesized to accomplish, his 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 was fond of 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 from leaving for the Dallas Stars in 1998, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that year.

Defenseman Chris Pronger (acquired from the Hartford Whalers in 1995 for Brendan Shanahan), Pavol Demitra, Pierre Turgeon, Al MacInnis, and goalie Roman Turek, kept the Blues a contender. In 1999-2000, they had the best record in the NHL during the regular season, earning the Presidents' Trophy, but 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.

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. Amidst a depletion in talent over recent years and an unstable ownwership 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.

Wal-Mart heir Bill Laurie purchased the Blues in 1998, but on June 17, 2005 announced that he would sell the team. On September 29, 2005 it was announced that the Lauries has signed an agreement to sell the Blues to Dave Checketts. On November 14, 2005 the Blues announced that Checketts' group, Sports Capital Partners, has 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, Checketts entered the picture again. On March 24, 2006, the Lauries completed the sale of the Blues and the lease to the Savvis Center to Checketts, Sports Capital Partners (SCP) and TowerBrook Capital Partners, L.P. Checketts promptly installed John Davidson as team president and de facto GM, moving the much-maligned Larry 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, just like the Dallas Stars have done with players from Finland and the New York Rangers are attempting to do with Czech skaters.

On September 7, 2006 the St. Louis Blues announed a "landmark" partnership with retail investment brokerage Scottrade. Scottrade's Founder and CEO Rodger O. Riney and CMO Chris X. Moloney announced a "long-term and significant" investment in the team and the arena. The terms were not disclosed. The announcement occurred in conjunction with significant upgrades and renovations to the 12-year old arena including new scoreboards, 360 degree LED wraps, new seats and other enhancements. The Blues are looking to rebound from one of their most challenging seasons after owner Bill Laurie stripped the team of most of talent prior to the team's sale. During the announcement, the team described the new partnership with Scottrade as a "new era" for the team. St. Louis-based Scottrade has 1700 employees and $750 million in revenue and has earned six consecutive J.D. Power and Assoc. awards for "Highest Investor Satisfaction." Scottrade also boasts the lowest commissions in the industry at $7.00 per trade regardless of account size or trading frequency.

Season-by-Season Record

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 T OTL Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1967-68 74 27 31 19 -- 70 177 191 792 3rd in Western Lost in Stanley Cup Final (MTL)
1968-69 76 37 25 14 -- 88 204 157 838 1st in Western Lost in Stanley Cup Final (MTL)
1969-70 76 37 27 12 -- 86 224 179 876 1st in Western Lost in Stanley Cup Final (BOS)
1970-71 78 34 25 19 -- 87 223 208 1092 2nd in Western Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (MIN)
1971-72 78 28 39 11 -- 67 208 247 1150 3rd in Western Lost in Conference Semifinals (BOS)
1972-73 78 32 34 12 -- 76 206 248 1195 4th in Western Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (CHI)
1973-74 78 26 40 12 -- 64 206 248 1147 6th in Western Out of Playoffs
1974-75 80 35 31 14 -- 84 269 267 1275 2nd in Smythe Lost in Conference Preliminaries (PIT)
1975-76 80 29 37 14 -- 72 249 290 1274 3rd in Smythe Lost in Conference Preliminaries (BUF)
1976-77 80 32 39 9 -- 73 239 276 877 1st in Smythe Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (MTL)
1977-78 80 20 47 13 -- 53 195 304 845 4th in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1978-79 80 18 50 12 -- 48 249 348 1055 3rd in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1979-80 80 34 34 12 -- 80 266 278 1037 2nd in Smythe Lost in Conference Preliminaries (CHI)
1980-81 80 45 18 17 -- 107 352 281 1657 1st in Smythe Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (NYR)
1981-82 80 32 40 8 -- 72 315 349 1579 3rd in Norris Lost in Division Finals (CHI)
1982-83 80 25 40 15 -- 65 285 316 1281 4th in Norris Lost in Division Semifinals (CHI)
1983-84 80 32 41 7 -- 71 293 316 1614 2nd in Norris Lost in Division Finals (MIN)
1984-85 80 37 31 12 -- 86 299 288 1301 1st in Norris Lost in Division Semifinals (MIN)
1985-86 80 37 34 9 -- 83 302 291 1478 3rd in Norris Lost in Conference Finals (CGY)
1986-87 80 32 33 15 -- 79 281 293 1572 1st in Norris Lost in Division Semifinals (TOR)
1987-88 80 34 38 8 -- 76 278 294 1919 2nd in Norris Lost in Division Finals (DET)
1988-89 80 33 35 12 -- 78 275 285 1675 2nd in Norris Lost in Division Finals (CHI)
1989-90 80 37 34 9 -- 83 295 279 1809 2nd in Norris Lost in Division Finals (CHI)
1990-91 80 47 22 11 -- 105 310 250 1987 2nd in Norris Lost in Division Finals (MIN)
1991-92 80 36 33 11 -- 83 279 266 2041 3rd in Norris Lost in Division Semifinals (CHI)
1992-93 84 37 36 11 -- 85 282 278 1889 4th in Norris Lost in Division Finals (TOR)
1993-94 84 40 33 11 -- 91 270 283 1659 4th in Central Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (DAL)
1994-951 48 28 15 5 -- 61 178 135 1077 2nd in Central Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (VAN)
1995-96 82 32 34 16 -- 80 219 248 1823 4th in Central Lost in Conference Semifinals (DET)
1996-97 82 36 35 11 -- 83 236 239 1336 4th in Central Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (DET)
1997-98 82 45 29 8 -- 98 256 204 1414 3rd in Central Lost in Conference Semifinals (DET)
1998-99 82 37 32 13 -- 87 237 209 1308 2nd in Central Lost in Conference Semifinals (DAL)
1999-00 82 51 19 11 1 114 248 165 1139 1st in Central Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (SJ)
2000-01 82 43 22 12 5 103 249 195 1345 2nd in Central Lost in Conference Finals (COL)
2001-02 82 43 27 8 4 98 227 188 1343 2nd in Central Lost in Conference Semifinals (DET)
2002-03 82 41 24 11 6 99 253 222 1618 2nd in Central Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (VAN)
2003-04 82 39 30 11 2 91 191 198 1274 2nd in Central Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (SJ)
2004-052 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2005-06 82 21 46 -- 15 57 197 292 1355 5th in Central Out of Playoffs
2006-07 82 34 35 -- 13 81 214 254 1070 3rd in Central Out of Playoffs
2007-08 82 33 36 -- 13 79 205 237 1135 5th in Central Out of Playoffs
2008-09 82 41 31 -- 10 92 233 237 1135 3rd in Central Will face Vancouver in first round
1 Season was shortened due to the 1994-95 NHL lockout.
2 Season was cancelled due to the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

Retired Numbers

The Blues have retired the numbers of six former players.

  • 2-Al MacInnis
  • 3-Bob Gassoff
  • 8-Barclay Plager
  • 11-Brian Sutter
  • 16-Brett Hull
  • 24-Bernie Federko

In addition, #99 was retired league wide by the NHL in honor of Wayne Gretzky.

The Blues honored numbers are:

  • 5-Bob Plager
  • 14-Doug Wickenheiser (unofficially retired)

A shamrock also hangs in memory of broadcaster Dan Kelly.

Franchise Individual Records

External Links

St. Louis Blues Head Coaches
PatrickBowmanArbourAbelMcCrearyTalbotAngottiYoungBoivinFrancisPlagerBerensonDemersSutterB. PlagerBerryKeenanRobertsQuennevilleKitchen