This is perhaps the toughest question of them all.
Every now and then someone posts a list in a fan group and it starts to grow. Who are the top ten ……? In our case, it is the top ten Blues. This is a tough question to answer. The first thing you need to ask yourself is, what is a Blue?
When a player laces up the skates for just one game, he is considered to be alumni. Wayne Gretzky arguably the greatest to ever touch a stick played less than 20 games in the Blue Note. Does that make him the greatest blue of all time? Bob Plager has been with the organization as a player, coach, and ambassador since the beginning. Should he be left off the list because he was not a great player?
To even start this list, I had to first define what it meant to be a “Blue” to me. The fan base likes to say We Bleed Blue. My Tag line is “I am bleeding Blue wit U.” That is where I start. How much Blue does this person bleed?
Second, I must ask, what did they do to raise the level of hockey in the heartland. There are players like Adam Oates who were here for just three years and had a less than stellar relationship with management. Oates does not bleed Blue, but he was here at the right time. Those three years were spectacular. Years we will never forget.
St Louis is the heartland of hockey because of the Blues. The contribution of the countless players who made this area their home and who gave their time and energy to the youth of this city can not be discounted either.
My top 10 might include Players or personalities that will leave you scratching your head. I had to dig deep and think about that main question, what makes a Blue a Blue?
My top ten Blues of all times are the people that when you think of the Blues you think of these guys. It is not just what you did on the ice it is how you did it on the ice. Chase, Twist, Barclay, Hall, and so many others raised the level of the fastest game on ice in the Gateway to the West.
I look at every aspect of what they did while they were here or in many cases still here.
This could be an article in and of itself. The names that I am leaving off include Hall oF Famers, All-Stars, Corner Stones, and greats that are on most lists. Some of them had a great time here, Grant Fuhr, Sorry buddy, I know what St. Louis means to you. Keith Tkachuk and all he did for the youth of this city.
Chaser, Twist, Low, Jensen, Zuke and so many others who make this city their home and are on the airwaves and at games and alumni events. Pavol Demitra loved this city and wanted so bad to bring a cup here. May you continue to rest in peace. The 2018-2019 team. That Cup run will always be special. so many of them are homegrown players. Tom Stillman and his partners. Brian Sutter as a player and a coach and the longest-tenured captain. This list just goes on and on and on!!!!
So without further ado.
My Top Ten Notes.
10. The Front Office Staff.
This is a no-brainer in my opinion. From Ray Barile who Just worked his 2000th game to Susie Mathieu who help the payers find restaurants when Harry Onest stopped paying for the pregame meal, and so many others. These people whose names we may or may not know do everything to help this organization on a daily basis. They help sell tickets, they reach out to the community, they listen to our gripes. Tom Calhoun is the voice we love. Jeremy Boyer plays the organ for us. They don’t ever get much recognition but for me, they are all in my top ten.
9. Bruce Affleck
Bruce Affleck has been with this organization from the first dark period in the mid-’70s until now. He was there on maybe the darkest of days when we lost Bob Gassoff. Affleck played for the Blues from 1974-1979. He played 274 games and amassed 79 points. That is not what puts him on this list. After his playing career ended in 1984, he moved back to St. Louis and started a long tenure with the club that continues today. He has been a broadcaster and executive. He currently is the president of the Alumni association which he helped establish. There is only one man in my mind who has bleed more Blue than Affleck.
8. Adam Oates
This one might have you scratching your head a bit. But like I said early this Hall of Famer electrified the Arena. without Oates, there might not have been a Hull. Hull and Oates are the reason so many are fans of the note today. His contract disputes with management have become legendary. While there is still some bad blood, it is not coming from this fan. he is just another example of the curse that was held over this team for more than 50 years.
7. Barclay Plager
I had to think and think on this one. Barc is actually too low in my mind. Plager was the first of the three brothers to play for the Note. He and Bobby played together for 11 years and the Blues were one of the best defensive teams in the league. Plager was a player and a coach up until his untimely death from a brain tumor.
His numbers don’t matter. But they are some of the best. This man established what would become known as Blues Hockey!! His Number 8 is high in the rafters where it belongs. Had he lived he would easily be at the number one spot. He’s was the second longest-tenured captain in the team’s history.
6. Barrett Jackman
Hardware and longevity matter. Jackman is the only Blue to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year beating out Henrik Zetterberg and Rick Nash. While an injury did hamper his numbers. He played with the Blues all but one year and signed a one-day contract to become the last player to wear the iconic number 5. Jack’s presence was felt every time he stepped on the ice. He continues to Bleed Blue in the front office. he is just another in a long line of defensemen that have graced the Note.
Number 44 would be resting in the rafters today, if Covid had not entered into our lives, it would be. The second Blue to win the Hart trophy and the only one to grab the Norris Trophy would be enough to get him on this list. The fact he did it in the same year, puts him in the top 5. While he does not work for the team he is around them all the time. Prongs has become a fixture among fans as a symbol of what a defenseman should be. He is the measuring stick.
4.. Al McInnis
While Al helped Break Note fans hearts in 86. His slap shot won them over later. He gave fans a sense that this team could do something and he and Chris Pronger made one of the best defensive pairings in league history. His shot was feared by everyone including his own teammates. MacInnis with a stick cock and ready to blast a one-timer can be likened to a .44 Magnum being pointed at you by Dirty Harry. Do you feel lucky? Well, do you punk? He currently works in the front office for the team and his #2 is high up in the rafters of Enterprise Center.
3. Bernie Federko
No Brainer here. Federko played all but one year with the Blues. He was traded to Detriot for my Number 8. He is the First and currently only Hall of Famer drafted by and played mostly for the Blues. this man bleeds blue more than the ardent of fans. Our Hall of Famer has I have heard him called anchors Fox Sports Midwest Blues coverage. There are only two men in my mind who have done more for the Note than Federko. By the way, he is first or second in most offensive categories. That is why no one will ever wear the Number 24 again.
2. Brett Hull
For me, Brett Hull would be on this list even if he did not score a single goal. He raised the profile of hockey in this city and the organization not just with his shot but with his personality and his mouth. We loved his post-game comments whether he scored or not. We hate the Blackhawks, when he wore the Note, so did he!! Even though he had friends on that team and enjoyed playing with them in the All-star games and international play.
Brett made being a Blues Fan Cool. He also never let the organization or city leave his heart or soul. He won two cups, but I am guessing if you talked to him in private he would tell you the 19 cup was his favorite. the day his number 16 was lifted into the heights of the Enterprise Center was a day that all things became right in the world if even just for a few minutes. We all want to be him. We all have stories about him. He is Number one on almost every list but this one.
1. Bobby Plager
So many people forget about Mr. Blue. Bobby has done more for the organization than any other two or three players combined. After the boys got him his parade, he asked if the cup could be taken to Barcs grave and a drink be poured out for him. That moment is so fitting. the original Blues Brothers have done nothing but Bleed Blue since 1967.
This is not about numbers. This is about Bobby nervously walking the corridor of the suites at enterprise waiting for his Blues to make a return trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. the Last time they were there He was there too. This is about a man who dreamed of a parade for 52 years. If you ever want to know what it means to be a Blue, just watch Plager at Blues events. I will never forget how the team gave Bobby the first taste from the cup. I could go on and on and on. This man, our number 5 is actually our Number 1!!
Yes, I know this is not the list you expected. This is a list of the people who are truly Blues!!!! not that there are not others that deserve to be on this list. Trust me I went over and over and over this list. I asked other Blues Podcasters and fans if I got this wrong. I am guessing some might say the “Player” was insinuated. Not for me.
This Is my list of my Top Ten Blues.
The list of Top Ten Players based on their playing days is a list for another time. Agree or disagree that is what these arbitrary lists are all about. So what next?
Now it is time for the hate and the debate.
Just remember debate is great and the more we talk about things the more we learn.
What did I get right? What did I get wrong?
I can not wait to see the comments on this one.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing