Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sleeping My Way Through The Blues Game

I drank no beer in St. Louis. I ate no hot dogs in St. Louis. And I was fast asleep in my seat when Paul Kariya scored the first goal of the game on a tip-in. I only know he tipped it in because the loud blast of the goal horn woke me right up in time to see the replay on the big screen. I never said I was going to stay awake for 30 Games In 30 Nights, did I? The Blues beat Columbus 3-2 in a game I thought would never end.

It was Al MacInnis night at the Scottrade Center and while Al's pre-game ceremony was certainly well-deserved, it sure didn't help me stay awake after my miserable day of travel from Edmonton. On less than two hours of sleep, and with a stomach that was turned inside out, I spent the day drinking Gatorade and hoping it was a 7pm start for the Blues vs Blue Jackets tilt, so I could just get through the game and go to bed early. Alas, start time was 7.30, and I got to listen to Dave Checketts and Gary Bettman drone on about how the legendary defenseman should have won not just the Norris Trophy, but also Best Supporting Actor, Most Likely To Succeed and the Nobel Peace Prize too. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little!

I truly could not keep my eyes open during the first period, but the building was so damn loud, and so damn cold, that I couldn't stay asleep either, even though the seat was big and comfy compared to my tiny one in Edmonton the previous evening. Yes, I said loud. The game was a sellout and this was the definitely the loudest crowd I've heard on my tour. And the arena folks put on one helluva show too. Any organist who can pull off "Touch Me" by The Doors is either a showoff, or just really good. Great graphics and great music kept the crown rollicking and rolling all evening.

There's a sense of hockey history in St. Louis, which I appreciated. The walkways have giant backlit wall displays featuring Blues greats of the past, although journeymen might be a more appropriate description for many of the players displayed. They also have a nice display showing every player who has ever scored a hat trick for the Blues. The Blues used to have a wonderful photo gallery online featuring pictures of every Blues player, even one game wonders like Robbie Irons. When the NHL came in and standardized each team's web site this summer, the photo gallery magically disappeared. Hopefully it still exists somewhere in cyberspace, but I can't find it. Someone in St. Louis really cares about the Blues' heritage.

Hundreds of fans wore MacInnis jerseys to the game, and I realized how many different styles of jerseys the Blues have worn over the years. Has any team switched up their unis more? Not that I can think of.

Here's my favorite picture of the night, the scoreboard at the end of the game! I slept like a baby after this one, despite my snoozles during the game.

A tremendous crowd and a great game made this a memorable night. Philly next, and a cheesesteak at Pat's, or should I try Gino's?


Anonymous said...

Well, I guess it was bound to happen - exhaustion, that is.

Do you have a "host for the day" in each city (as per your final Edmonton post)? If so, did you start out your venture with these people planning to escort you to their favourite restaurants/hotels/cheap parking or did they introduce themselves along the way?

Before Edmonton went on their Cinderella run to the playoffs, they did not sell out every game. Do you (or any other reader) know if they had that open lounge before then? That is definitely awesome, and probably a lot more fun to witness after a win.

- desdemona

Anonymous said...

I suppose there's an advantage to not having glass here in Australia. At the end of each home game the fans (kids mainly) run down from the stands and clamber onto the boards (usually before they have a chance to pull back the nets).

The players drop off their helmets, gloves and stick at the benches and come over to talk to the fans and sign autographs. Often the players know the fans and kids by name and some of the littlest even get picked up and get skated around by their favourite player.

This really builds a great relationship with the players and inspires our young juniors

There is, of course, one drawback to this, if anyone has ever been up close and personal with a hockey player immediately after a game!

Anonymous said...

...the other drawback, I would assume, would be fans getting a puck in the face! (or do Australian ice hockey players have a special talent for keeping the puck down low?) Interesting (albeit unsettling) to hear the lack of glass. Even the smallest of small-town rinks in Canada has glass, that I'm aware of (not outdoor ones though)

Steve Williamson said...


I met all these great people along the way. The only thing I did before I left was book all my plane tickets.


Anonymous said...

I don't know why you chose St. Louis to fall asleep in. They have a good young team and a lot of places to enjoy yourself in at the landing. I feel bad that I just heard about your trip and I commend you on your feat. I am heading out for an east coast baseball trip this summer I hope. Anyway, congrats on your trip and GO BLUES!!!