Gunnarsson and the Pisser
It will be the most talked about conversation at the pisser ever. “Chief, just give me one more chance,” Carl Gunnarsson told St. Louis Blues’ head coach Craig Berube has he relieved himself during the first overtime intermission of Game Two of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals in Boston. Berube told this story in the locker room just moments after Gunnarsson made good on his promise.
Today Gunnarsson, 34, announced his retirement from the NHL, Gunnarsson wrote on the Blues website that he and his family very much enjoyed their time in St. Louis.
“My wife and I found that it is an amazing place to raise a family,” he wrote. “Our two kids were born here, and the people of St. Louis made us feel more than welcome. We are truly proud to have been able to call St. Louis our home for the last seven years.
“I’ve always been taught to put the team first and to me that is the best thing about hockey — the team. The bonds created between teammates is something you can’t find anywhere else and is the thing I’m going to miss the most now that I’ve decided to retire.”
Originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2007, the seventh-round (194th overall) he spent 12 seasons in the league. Acquired by the Blues along with a draft pick (Ville Husso) for Roman Polak on June 28th 2014.
Gunnarsson played in 629 games amassing 138 points (30G, 108A). His first goal was a memorable one beating Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils on Jan 28 2010. His only Playoff goal was even more so.
The Blues had tied Game 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals in the first period. The game remained tied 2-2, with just moments left in regulation Gunnarsson rang a shot off the post. This was the 14th Cup Finals game for the Blues. They were 0-13.
During the intermission, the now-famous conversation took place.
Just over 3 minutes into the extra frame, the referee called a delayed penalty on the Boston Bruins. Gunnarsson playing right defense, Ryan O’Reilly fired a one-timer from the left point that ricochet from behind the net past Alex Steen to a waiting Gunnarsson at the top of the right circle. Gunnarsson moved to the blueline and sent a soft pass to the extra skater Oskar Sundqvist. “Sunny” returned the pass to a ready, cocked, and loaded Gunnarson. Letting loose a one-timer that the city of St. Louis had waited 51 years for.
Beating Boston goalie Tuukka Rask left top shelf, Blues radio announcer Chris Kerber uttered the now famous words “He scoorrrrreeess Boom Boom Gunnarsson.” That nickname shall forever live in Bluenote lore.
St Louis was no longer 0-for. That goal would be the catalyst to Alex Pietrangelo raising Lord Stanley’s prize just mere feet from where that fateful shot took place.
Boom Boom, plagued with injuries throughout his career, and sidelined most of this season with a torn ACL told reporters during a Zoom meeting that he would not be available until November. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post Dispatch released a tweet and corresponding story.
Had he continued his career, Gunnarsson said he wouldn't have been able to play until late November as he continues rehab/recovery from knee surgery. @tomtimm will have all the details later at https://t.co/Lp4yFRZ9kj and in the Post-Dispatch.
— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) June 23, 2021
The heartfelt letter Gunnarsson released today started, “She is a thing of beauty, isn’t she?”
“The game of hockey swept me off my feet the first time I saw her. It was love at first sight when my dad introduced me to her about 30 years ago. Looking back at how it all started and the long road it’s been, I still can’t believe that I was one of the few lucky ones to make it to the NHL.”
The Sweden native spent 7 seasons with the Blues. Tallying 52 points including 3 game-winners in the regular season. Gunnarsson was a mainstay of the blueline, and he was a mainstay in the city of St. Louis.
“St. Louis seemed to be more spread out and nothing really going on downtown, except sporting events of course.” He wrote “I knew it was a baseball-loving city but didn’t know how much it loves hockey. The fans here surprised me and really showed how much they love their Blues, especially during the playoffs.”
“It grew on me. My wife and I found that it is an amazing place to raise a family. Our two kids were born here, and the people of St. Louis made us feel more than welcome. We are truly proud to have been able to call St. Louis our home for the last seven years.”
Gunnarson played only 11 games this season. He suffered a right knee injury on February 22 against the Los Angeles Kings.
“Gunnarsson was injured in a puck battle with Los Angeles Kings forward Gabriel Vilardi along the boards behind the Blues’ net with 9:20 remaining in the second period.” According to a story on the teams’ official website. “He left the ice with help from teammates and did not return.”
The Blues missed Gunnarson’s presence during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Gunnarsson’s retirement means only Colton Parayko, Vince Dunn, and Robert Bortuzzo are left on the Blueline from the 2019 cup-winning team.
Gunnarsson’s retirement means that only 3 of the top 7 D-men from the 2019 Cup champs are still around for the Blues: Parayko, Bortuzzo, and Dunn. And who knows if Dunn is still around after next month’s expansion draft.
— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) June 23, 2021
Gunnarsson was a solid stay-at-home defenseman who knew his role. He was decent on the power-play and the penalty kill. Gunnarsson’s size and checking ability will be tough to replace.
Along with the departure of Boom-Boom, Dunn could also wear a new sweater next season. The common perception remains the Blues will leave him unprotected and the expansion Seattle Kracken will snap him up.
As Gunnarsson and his family return to his homeland, we the city of St. Louis and the fans who watched you end 51 years of disappointment and losses in the finals say “Thank you Boom Boom”
Pisser conversations will never be the same.
Till Next time Hockey Fans