For nearly the past decade now, my friend and I have attended NHL games across North America each year. Although I haven't written about our experiences much the past few years, I wanted to write about this year's trip to St. Louis, Nashville, and, um, Metropolis.
Let's start with a little history. The St. Louis Blues formed in 1967 when the NHL expanded from 6 teams to 12 teams along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, and others. Although the Blues reached the playoffs for 25 consecutive years from 1980-2004 and lost in the Western Conference Finals during the 2015-2016 season, the Blues are the oldest NHL team to never have won the Stanley Cup. However, the team's 50th year logo is pretty cool and they are hosting the Winter Classic next months, so that's worth something.
Throughout these hockey trips, I've seen amazing crowds in places such as Montreal and Chicago where the arenas were packed and fans were totally into the game. There have also been arenas with less enthusiastic crowds (I'm looking at you, Toronto!). St. Louis leaned toward the latter. Lots of empty seats and not nearly as loud as you'd expect when the home team scores three goals in the first period. Maybe the acoustics of Scottrade Center keep make it seem more quiet though the pre-game music blasted through the speakers.
I'm switching this from my typical glorious prose to more notes about the game/St. Louis.
- It was cold and dark when we arrived outside Scottrade Center, but I didn't notice much of an atmosphere around the arena. We actually parked in a parking garage attached to arena and walked right in. Meanwhile, about a mile away, there is an entire outdoor area with restaurants about a mile away adjacent to Busch Stadium, St. Louis' baseball stadium. This seems like a vibrant and fun area to visit before, during, and after baseball games. There was no such vibe around the hockey arena.
- If you're a St. Louis Blues fan, can you please explain this guy?
Does he do this at every game? If so, is he a Blues employee or a season ticket-holder? Is he allowed to leave his seat during the game? I mean, what happens if he's in the bathroom or stuck in line getting food when the Blues score? Will no one know how many goals the Blues have? In addition, what does he throw?
- In the 21 games during our hockey road trip, we saw a hat trick twice, during game #1 (Ryan Malone of the Pens) and game #6 (Dustin Byfuglien of the Blackhawks). Thanks to Vladimir Tarasenko, we've now seen three hat tricks live. Definitely a highlight of the trip seeing star players at their best.
- Are Dippin' Dots really the ice cream of the future? If so, you'd think the ice cream of the future stand would accept more forms of payment other than cash.
- Did you know that the World Chess Hall of Fame is in St. Louis? If you did, um, checkmate!
- Recommendation if visiting St. Louis: check out the free zoo. However, don't go at 3:00 on a cold Thursday, December afternoon during their holiday of lights season. The gift shop was closed and none of the animals were out. I mean, I saw a sleeping Andean bear and a few squirrels and birds, but this may have been the highlight.
- I did see Louie the Bear though. Sadly, I didn't get a picture with him.
- I ate lunch at Schlafly Bottleworks and had a $2 beer. Not a $2 sample but a $2 pint. And it (and the food) was good! By the way, according to its website, Schlafly is "Missouri’s largest locally owned independent brewery" and the Schlafly Tap Room, which opened in 1991, was first new brewpub to open in Missouri since Prohibition. So, um, why did it take so long to open a brewpub? It's not like Prohibition ended in 1989.
- I'm not a casino owner and I don't play one on the internet. But if I was a casino owner at say, The Lumiere Casino in St. Louis, I'd change the minimum bets to $5 at blackjack tables on a Thursday afternoon instead of having dealers stand at completely empty tables with higher minimum bids.
- I also won $16 at said casino, so maybe I am the owner now! (This reads better if you say this in an "I'm the captain now" voice.)
So that's it from St. Louis. For more about the Blues-Lightning game, check out NHL.com, ESPN, and/or the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
You can also click here for the hockey road trip archives.