-I'm not talking about winning a Stanley Cup....or even the Central Division. I'm talking about the Blues being tops in the minds of St. Louis sports fans. I'm not sure that has ever happened.
Even in the best years the Boys of Winter have had since coming into the NHL in the mid-60's, our city, and its media, has always relegated hockey to second-class status in the sports pecking order. Newspaper editors and sports talk-show hosts go out of their way to talk about baseball or football no matter how well the Blues are playing, or what place they were in the standings. "How's that fourth-round draft pick, left-handed pitcher doing in winter ball?"...or "Can't we find somebody to cover punts?" is always more important than "Al MacInnis scored a hat trick and the Blues took a 3-2 lead in games in the Western Conference finals."
This year, it seems we may finally be seeing the Blues get a shot at sports page banner headlines, top-dog on sports talk stations, and more importantly, the topic at the water cooler. After all, that's where it counts as far as ticket sales are concerned.
The Blues gave the market every reason to get wound up with the opening night pageantry and solid play on Wednesday night at Scottrade Center. I'm an old dog at the p-a job and have seen a lot of exciting nights in my time, but the 4-1 win over Nashville and the bang-up pre-game ceremonies were about as good as I've seen on opening night. Everyone involved should be proud and stoked for more. And, the boys dominated a very strong Predators squad without 3 of their top defensemen suiting up. Wow!
As I peel myself down off the ceiling, let's all observe closely how the local media treats the Blues resurgence this season...especially if they continue their winning ways for a while. Will we see TV sportscasts leading with the Blues score? Or was that an opening-night phenomenon? Will the suddenly-pathetic Rams roster moves outshine a Blues victory in the Post? Will the boys at KTRS ignore the Blues on their talk shows because they don't own the broadcast rights anymore? Will KMOX...the new Blues rightsholder...give more than a "tonight's game promo" in their daytime sportscasts? Will the all-sports stations resort to the Cardinals soap opera in the front office for talk fodder? Will the casual St. Louis sports fan get some background info presented to them on some of the kids who play for the Blues...anywhere other than Andy Strickland's blog? Never has happened before..will it now?
Just some things to keep an eye on as the Checketts regime continues to show the other major league sports teams in town how to operate.
I've added a link here to Norm Sanders' Blues blog. Norm is the outstanding Blues beat writer for the Belleville News-Democrat...just in case you didn't know. Norm will have many good insights on Blues hockey this season. So I urge you hockey nuts to visit there often.
I'll be away from an available keyboard until Thursday 10/18. Look for an update then.