You know the photo, right?
It’s the greatest sports image of all time. Bobby Orr flying through the air, his wood Victoriaville raised, mouth open in a triumphant scream. Boston Gaaaden crowd going bonkers in the background, knowing the Stanley Cup belonged to them now.
Of course you know the photo. Everyone does. It’s a frigging statue outside the TD Garden.
In 1970, everyone I knew loved the big, bad Boston Bruins. Espo, Chief and especially Orr. I suppose I did to. But something else in that photo called to me. It was those other guys. A music note on their white sweaters. The goalie falling back into the net. The player tripping Orr high into the air. Who the heck were they?
They were St. Louis Blues. Goalie Glenn Hall and defenseman Noel Picard. Hall was a veteran wrapping up a Hall of Fame career. Picard was a journeyman, forgotten by most.
A few years later, I was picked for a team in a youth hockey league. I was on the Blues. I shifted my gaze from the lunchpail brutish Bruins to those Blues and saw guys like Garry Unger, a blond flashy 70’s playa who dated Playboy models.
Oh Lord, I have suffered since.
Forty-nine years of futility. Unger, Brian Sutter, Bernie Federko, Brett Hull, Chris Pronger. It’s a long line of great players who came and went without ever winning the Cup.
But last night, a crazy thing happened. My Blues, a hockey footnote if there ever was one, won the Western Conference finals and are going to the Stanley Cup. To play the Bruins.
They say history repeats? Is sure as *&#$ does.
My friend Dave Zamboni knows how I feel about the Blues. He’s the one guy who gets it. He knows hockey breaks your heart a million times before it finally takes you into its arms and lets you in. Or doesn’t.
Hey Dave, remember Harold Snepsts? Steve Durbano? Barclay Plager? Or how about this Tarasenko kid?
You know, the other guys.
Maybe it’s their turn to fly through the air.