Heartache turns to triumph for St. Louis sports activities followers

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ST. LOUIS — At age 100, Marge Kirchhoefer is among the many oldest St. Louis Blues followers and now that they’re Stanley Cup champions, she is aware of precisely how she’s going to have a good time.

“It is too good to be true,” Kirchhoefer mentioned. “I’ve pals and all of us social gathering collectively. We’ll drink champagne. I could get loaded! I do not care.”

There’s loads of that going round in St. Louis, now that the Blues have knocked off the Boston Bruins to win their first NHL championship since they arrived as an growth crew 52 years in the past. The 4-1 win in Recreation 7 on Wednesday evening in Boston set off a wild celebration that lasted nicely into Thursday morning.

And why not? In any case, it has been a protracted watch for Blues followers and a troublesome few years for St. Louis sports activities fanatics generally.

Till this 12 months, the Blues had by no means received a recreation within the Stanley Cup Closing. That they had not even reached the ultimate since 1970, the final in a three-year championship sequence run that ended with the still-new Blues a lowly 0-12 — swept twice by Montreal after which as soon as by the Bruins.

Since these long-ago days, St. Louis misplaced two NFL franchises — the Cardinals to Arizona in 1988, and the Rams to Los Angeles in 2016. To justify a transfer that appeared on the floor to violate league tips, an lawyer for Rams proprietor (and Missouri native) Stan Kroenke wrote a scathing and extensively disputed report that painted St. Louis as an financial hellhole for sports activities franchises.

St. Louis’ beloved Cardinals received World Sequence titles in 1982, 2006 and 2011, and Nationwide League pennants in 1985, 1987, 2004 and 2013. However they’ve missed the playoffs three straight years and have been solely so-so this season. The Cardinals discover themselves within the uncommon place of taking a backseat.

The Blues are the toast of the city.

Followers crammed the Enterprise Heart even for street playoff video games, simply to be collectively and watch on the scoreboard display. Bars and Ballpark Village, subsequent to Busch Stadium, had been filled with rabid Blues followers for each recreation. For Recreation 7, each the Enterprise Heart and Busch Stadium had been crammed with followers watching the sport on the scoreboard.

A parade on Saturday will honor hockey’s new champions and as much as 1 million individuals are anticipated to line downtown streets, adopted by a rally beneath the Gateway Arch.

Such a celebration appeared like solely a pipe dream six months in the past.

On Jan. 3, halfway by the season, the Blues had the worst report within the NHL. Coach Mike Yeo was fired in November and issues actually weren’t getting a lot better underneath interim coach Craig Berube.

Then a 25-year-old rookie goalie, Jordan Binnington, was known as up and started to dominate. The crew in entrance of him slowly took on the robust, hard-nosed exterior of Berube, a former NHL enforcer. The Blues not solely made the playoffs however beat Winnipeg, Dallas and San Jose to earn a shot on the Cup. After lacking out on an opportunity to clinch the championship at house Sunday, the resilient Blues received in Boston for the third time within the sequence.

Kirchhoefer mentioned she generally watches video games together with her grandson’s household, a house the place the Blues reign so supreme that they’ve a objective mild in the lounge. When the Blues rating a objective, the sunshine goes off and a siren sounds.

“It is identical to being there,” Kirchhoefer mentioned. “I get goose pimples when these video games get so shut. Oh my!”

Kirchhoefer, who labored as a petroleum firm workplace supervisor earlier than retiring in 1984, used to attend video games together with her late husband, Frank, who died in 2002. Her love of the crew grew watching the keenness of her grandson, who hunts for arrowheads and sells them to pay for tickets.

“That is as soon as in a lifetime,” Kirchhoefer mentioned. “They (the Blues) tried so onerous, from being means on the underside and developing like that. It was fantastic.”

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