Blues fans pack The Blue Line hockey bar to watch and celebrate the team’s first Stanley Cup
Brock Shults stood outside The Blue Line on Wednesday evening, his blue-and-gold-painted beard glistening in the sunlight as he counted down the minutes until his St. Louis Blues embarked on a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 against the Boston Bruins.
He came prepared, really. The beard dye was new, but the mohawk wasn’t. That’s an annual tradition of his for the NHL playoffs, but until recently, the lifelong Blues fan hadn’t needed to worry about it this far into June.
The Blues had not appeared in the Stanley Cup Final since 1970, when Shults’ mother was 2 years old.
“It’s long enough that I can spike it up now,” Shults said of his mohawk, smiling. “I had to color everything. I did it for Game 6 for the potential clincher at home. Of course, that didn’t happen, but we’re good on the road. We’re good after a loss.”
Shults was one of a bevy of Blues fans to pack The Blue Line for Game 7. They went home happy. St. Louis secured its first NHL championship in franchise history with a 4-1 win over Boston.
The support was in the names.
First, the bar owner, Steve Stegall. He was working for much of the game, but his mind was also on his wife, Letty, who was deported to Veracruz, Mexico, in March 2018. Both are rabid hockey fans. Steve, a San Jose Sharks fan, convinced Letty to join him in his Sharks fandom, but he said both would be pulling for the Blues Wednesday night.
“She would love to be here,” Steve Stegall said. “This is history. The Blues have never won a Cup. There hasn’t been a Game 7 in eight years. And she’s in Mexico watching it by herself instead of being here with all these people.”
Still, Steve insists their relationship is strong as ever. They FaceTime every night. They’ll even turn on the same TV show on Netflix, sync up the streams and watch together.
“We make it the best we can out of a (bad) situation,” Steve said. “We make it the best we can.”
There was Justin Jablaski, 46, a lifelong Blues fan who said he had suffered long enough. He’s from southern Illinois, roughly 50 miles outside of St. Louis.
“It’s a long time overdue,” Jablaski said. “It’s exciting to watch. It gives us something to hope for. It’s a good team. I think this team will be solid for a couple years. It gives us hope to maybe get through tonight or next year.”
Then there was Michael McGinnis, also a lifelong Blues fan and a St. Louis native. He, too, has seen the highs and lows, the seasons without playoffs and the head coaching changes.
The Blues getting this far, McGinnis said, is something for those from St. Louis to take pride in.
“We’re very proud of what they’ve done,” McGinnis said. “They’re a true representation of the heart of St. Louis — we’ve been down, but we’re not out. We’re going to fight. The city has been through so much. We’ve had a lot of issues in the past. It’s one of the greatest places in the country to live.”
Others didn’t bring as much hockey background to the bar.
That went for Adam Timmerman, dressed in a Blues shirt and a Royals cap. He said he’s far from a hockey enthusiast — but this was different.
“It’s just a local thing,” Timmerman said. “Everyone’s going crazy. I have friends in St. Louis, and they’re going crazy. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them, so I’m just kind of bandwagoning and following along. It’s been great watching. It’s an awesome sport.”
Not that he had any shame in picking up his fandom so recently.
“I’m all in on the bandwagon,” Timmerman said. “Game 7 is always good. I feel like some of the games have been blowouts one way or another. If the Blues are winning, they’re winning close games. If the Bruins are winning, they’re winning in blowouts. Blues have to be on their A-game.”
They were Wednesday night, and in Kansas City, their fans were a happy bunch.