First of all, I have to admit that I’m not really a hockey fan. I may live in a city that has it’s very own NHL hockey team, but I’ve been to exactly one hockey game in my life and that was only because somebody gave my husband a couple of free tickets. So it took me a while to realize that the St. Louis Blues were doing well enough to make it to the playoffs. And that they did well enough in the playoffs to get a chance to play for the Stanley Cup. That’s when I began to pay attention, and I’m really glad I did.
Banners proclaiming “Let’s Go Blues” sprang up all over the city, draped across buildings, hanging from highway overpasses, and proudly displayed on front lawns. One radio station pledged to keep playing “Gloria” (this season’s theme song) non-stop until the Blues won the Stanley cup. Statues of historic figures sported Blues jerseys and huge “watch parties” were organized so that Blues fans could gather to watch not only the games that were played in Boston, but the sold-out St. Louis games as well.
It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement, so my husband and put on blue shirts and headed out to watch the final games in the series. We watched game five in a German restaurant that was televising the game on a huge screen in it’s bar, and helped the crowd cheer the Blues as they won. We went to a sports bar for game six with high hopes, but they lost that game. Being slightly superstitious, we went back to the German restaurant to watch game seven, figuring we were doing our small part to ensure a victory. (We even sat at the same table and ordered the same food.)
It was a really fun night. The bar area wasn’t too crowded when we first arrived, but by the time the game started, it was packed. The crowd was a mixture of old and young, men and women, some in Blues attire and some not. Late-comers were brought up to date on the action by those already seated at tables. We all clapped and cheered for the good plays, and when the Blues scored a goal, everyone was up, hugging, cheering, and high-fiving people they hadn’t even met before.
When the Blues were ahead by three points with just over a minute left in the game, a young man sitting near the TV stood up and shouted, “Everyone on their feet for the final minute!” And we all stood up, even the elderly woman with the walker. The joy when the final buzzer went off was off-the-chart.
I’m incredibly happy that the Blues won that night. Not just because this is their first Stanley Cup, although that’s an impressive achievement. What I liked best was seeing my city drawing together to support their hockey team, and how we could see, at least for a little while, what it feels like to unite as a community toward a common goal. In the days leading up to the final game, it was so easy to ignore all the things that usually divide us and to simply be fans of the St. Louis Blues, rooting for a historic victory for our city’s team.
I know it was just a game, and that soon enough, we’ll go back to the usual fussing and bickering about all the issues that we allow to divide us. But I hope we’ll remember just how good it feels when we manage to stand together…..