This story explains how a man in Switzerland found out about the St. Louis Blues—before the internet had been invented. A MUST READ for Blues fans!
This is the story of a man in Switzerland falling for the St. Louis Blues. Enjoy.
To be honest, I did not know what the NHL was until 1986, when I first saw a picture of Wayne Gretzky and read that he was the best player in the world. In Europe we argued that the best player in the world could only be Sergei Makarov. But, as I said, we never saw Gretzky play.
I’ve been a passionate fan of the game of hockey for about 35 years now. My favourite team in Switzerland is HC Davos (Hockey Club Davos). If you don’t know of the club, you might know some of the players that made an impression playing there.
I’ll try to name them in chronological order: Kelly Kisio, Ron Wilson, Kevin Miller, Pat Falloon, Mark Streit, Jonas Hiller, Joe Thornton, Rick Nash, Alexandre Daigle, Nino Niederreiter, former Blues prospect Reto Berra, Loui Eriksson. And you might know the coach of the 1980/81 season: Herb Brooks.
If you know the club then you know their colours: Blue and Yellow.
First connection to the Blues: Jacques Soguel was the captain of the team during their successful 80s. Kelly Kisio was impressed by his skating skills, calling him the most elegant skater he ever saw. His skills did not go unnoticed among NHL scouts even before Kelly Kisio made his comments. Eventually he was drafted by the Blues 1976 in the 8th round—picked 121st overall. He was the first Swiss player selected in an NHL draft.
Second connection to the Blues: After Jacques Soguel retired from hockey some of us fans handed him a St. Louis Blues jersey with his number 23 and his name printed on the back. We even went as far as putting the C on front. Soguel was quite moved by that gift.
Once I discovered the St. Louis Blues, I wanted to know everything about them... Not an easy task before the internet was invented.
In 1990, while working for a bank, I discovered a register with fax numbers from around the world. To my surprise I found the number of the NHL headquarter in New York. Being young and naïve I thought I'd give it a shot and send a fax to the NHL asking for information concerning the St. Louis Blues. I did not expect an answer.
The next morning I was called into my boss's office. In front of him was a huge pile of papers sitting on his desk: a fax sent by the NHL containing more than 200 pages full of facts and stats of all the teams. I was so excited that I didn’t even notice my boss's anger regarding the waste of fax paper.
One year later EA released NHL Hockey on Sega Megadrive, and that was enough reason for me to buy the console. It was the first time I could see my St. Louis Blues in action. Curtis Joseph, Paul Cavallini, Scott Stevens, Brett Hull, Adam Oates came all to play. Kelly Chase got under the skin of every opponent.
I was in heaven.
In 1998, I found my first internet connection and finally saw the real Blues—at least, in still pictures—and was able to listen to some games live.
My favorite Blues player since then? Pavol Demitra... May his soul rest in peace. I worked with software engineers from Slovakia, and whenever one of them entered the room I would play a WAV-File for them going: “Demitra shoots – He scores! – Pavol Demitra! Oh baby! And the Blues will at least have a game 5!”
Next time the Slovaks came to Switzerland they handed me a Team Slovakia Demitra jersey.
A lot has changed since then. Now I can watch the Blues live or whenever I feel like it on NHL.TV. As before, I will not be able to watch the season opener live (It will be 2 a.m. here when the Blues take on the Blackhawks), but I’ll watch the highlights in the morning before jumping into the shower. I hope my Thursday starts on a good note. Let’s go Blues!
This article was submitted by a Blues Buzz follower in Switzerland! Follow Andreas Bernhard on Twitter if you enjoyed it: @absatz38