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Two Dates Post-Cup That Haunt The St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues history

Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, the St. Louis Blues have had more lows than highs. But there are two dates that changed the St. Louis Blues history.

The “What If” Game

What if Dave Roberts never stole second base, the Kansas City Chiefs had a healthy offensive line for Super Bowl 55, and Cody Rhodes did not finish the story?

Professional sports are full of “what if” questions. These questions are asked all over sports media. The “what if” questions haunt the minds of teams and their fans who found themselves on the wrong side of history.

Hockey Is Cruel

Prior to 2019, the Blues had their fair share of “what if” moments. Then 2019 became the exception to the rule. On June 12, 2019, the Blues became Stanley Cup Champions. Suddenly, those “what if” questions did not matter anymore.  It did not matter that Ryan Miller struggled in 2014, because Jordan Binnington excelled in 2019. It did not matter that Wayne Gretzky “had it” then “lost it” in 1996, because Ryan O’Reilly always had the puck in 2019.

Unfortunately for Blues fans, time goes on. As it goes on, the magic of 2019 is further and further away from the present. New memories emerge. The “what if” questions rise once again.

Two Dates That Haunt The Blues

In the five years since they won the Stanley Cup, there are two dates that changed history for the Blues. Two dates that haunt the minds of Blues fans.

Could there be more than just two? Absolutely. The team is in a retool. It takes more than two bad days to get to that point. However, for the Blues, these two dates stand out because of their long-term impact to the team.

March 12, 2020

This date haunts sports fans all over the world. On this day, every major sports league paused their season as a result of COVID-19.

At the time of the pause, the Blues led the Western Conference and were on their way to getting the one seed. The Colorado Avalanche were on their tail, but the Blues were red hot and were determined to defend their title. Even an injury to Vladimir Tarasenko and Jay Bouwmeester‘s scary cardiac event did not seem to deter the Blues. In fact, their determination only grew.

It seemed very possible the St. Louis Blues were in a position to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Even when the season paused and the unique playoff format was announced, it still seemed the Blues could repeat.

How This Changes the St. Louis Blues History and Haunts the Team

Then the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs started. The Blues participated in the round-robin tournament to determine the one seed. The team went 0-2-1 and lost the top seed. In their first-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, Binnington struggled and was eventually benched in favour of Jake Allen. The Blues lost the series in six games.

Furthermore, the series ended up having the last games that captain Alex Pietrangelo played in a Blues uniform. The Blues were in a tight cap situation, but there was hope Pietrangelo would stay. Furthermore, there was belief the salary cap would increase. The cap did not increase due to lost revenue during the pandemic. Pietrangelo would sign with the Vegas Golden Knights.

On March 12, 2020, the Blues seemed on the path to winning the Stanley Cup again. It seemed the odds were in their favour to re-sign Pietrangelo. Neither happened.

May 28, 2022

For the first time since 2019, the Blues won a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After beating the Minnesota Wild in six games, the Blues faced the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues split the first two games of the series in Colorado.

The Blues were playing with confidence heading into Game Three on that May 28th night. The team had already had two players record hat tricks in the playoffs to that point. Binnington, after a rough season that saw him lose the starting role, took over in the Wild series and was playing like his 2019 self.

The Blues were playing the heavily favoured Avalanche. However, it seemed the Blues had what it took to beat them. It seemed that maybe, just maybe, the Blues were on track for another magical summer.

How This Changes the St. Louis Blues History and Haunts the Team

Enter Nazem Kadri. Kadri crashed the net and collided with Binnington in the first period of Game Three. Binnington was injured and was out for the remainder of the series. Up to that point, the series was tied 1-1, but the Blues had outscored the Avalanche 7-4. The Avalanche would go on to win three of the next four games. The Blues were outscored 17-11. Ville Husso struggled in relief of Binnington.

If Binnington had not gotten injured, it is very possible the Blues would have beaten the Avalanche. With a healthy Binnington and the Blues still playing with confidence, it is possible the Blues would have beat the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Once there, who knows what would have happened? Even if the Blues fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Final, it still would have been their second appearance in three seasons.

The ensuing off-season, the Blues failed to acquire Matthew Tkachuk. David Perron left in free agency. The Blues went from perhaps playing for the Stanley Cup to entering what would become the early days of their retool.

What If Indeed

In a world where COVID-19 never happens and Kadri does not crash the net, the Blues may be 3x Stanley Cup Champions. They may be the league’s newest dynasty. Alex Pietrangelo may be inching closer and closer to a statue outside Enterprise Center.

Mulling over these “what if” scenarios do not change what happened. The Blues are not 3x Stanley Cup Champions. They are not the league’s newest dynasty. Pietrangelo is in Vegas.

However, as the Blues continue their retool, it is interesting to look back and see just how things happened and what could have gone differently. What did happen certainly haunts the Blues.

Main Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports


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