Saturday night was supposed to be all about Blues opening night. It was supposed to be the start of a hope-filled season for St. Louis Blues fans. But at 5:45pm Saturday, January 19th Stan Musial passed away and the tone of the night could have dramatically changed at Scottrade Center.
Many Blues fans are also Cardinals fans. So a high percentage of the 20,035 hockey-starved patrons who showed up to watch their Blues take on the Detroit RedWings that night also had a soft spot in their hearts for "The Man". Those of us who work at the games also have that spot. We found out that Mr. Musial had died shortly before the introductions of the 2013 Blues team members were to take place prior to the start of the game. Because of social media, the fans found out around the same time.
Prior to the days when everyone carried a cellphone, I, being the public-address announcer at Blues games, would have had the duty of informing the crowd of the passing of St. Louis's number-one sports icon. It would have been a shocking moment in the evening for most. Some would have gone straight into a depression-like state. Some would have immediately sought more information. Some may have left the building. That would have likely killed the opening-night "buzz" in the arena, probably for the entire game.
As it was, a majority of the crowd likely learned of the passing of Mr. Musial not too long after our game presentation staff and the media did. So, our job in presenting "the show" Saturday became one of determining the best way to pay tribute to Stan-the-Man, and not one of breaking the news. We decided to put up a picture of Stan on the Jumbotron between the second and third periods and accompany it with some appropriate words.
The management entrusted me with composing the message. I delivered it. And the game and it's presentation weren't radically altered. People stood and applauded. And because of social media and the rapid spread of information about Mr. Musial's passing, the atmosphere in the building was preserved. In this instance, social media changed the game experience for the better without many realizing it.