Ryan Reaves casually pulling a tooth out, Tarasenko humbly giving credit to his teammates, and Captain David Backes battling like a gladiator in front of the net, defines what it means to play for the St. Louis Blues. No flash, just hard work. It takes grit and spirit to accept your hits day-in and day-out while chasing that ever elusive championship. The team’s work ethic has not only come to represent what blues music means but also what it means to call St. Louis home.
Originally, Blues music arose from Black communities in the South. It sprouted from slaves, ex-slaves, and grew through their children, who moved north to places like Chicago and St. Louis. The work-song beginnings slowly transitioned to symbolize personal hardship endured during the 30s and 40s. In its essence, blues music has always been about catharsis—a means of expression that helps an individual or group momentarily overcome their environment.
Does this sound like self-pity? Far from it. Blues music is a way for humans to connect and empathize with each other—even share joy. By adding a little swagger to the moan of an electric guitar, a small bit of grit gets passed along to the listener. The audience extracts pleasure out of listening to another’s pain (schadenfreude is the German word for it) by relating to the artist and putting their own challenges in perspective.
The same goes for the team named after this musical legacy. Though we anxiously wait for a parade and endure bitter disappointments, every game is still worth playing (or watching). Each battle at Scottrade has the potential to momentarily unite a crowd of 20,000 fans and the city behind it.
While the blues, both in music and in hockey, represents our region’s painful legacy of racial injustice and economic pitfalls, it also represents something more. The blues represents overcoming pain and living on in hopes of a better future. ‘Bleeding Blue’ means we all share the same blood—no matter our skin color, our high school, our age, or our job. As the organization recognizes this is ‘our team, our town,’ and our legacy.
What our legacy becomes depends on how we overcome our losses. It is hypocritical to call ourselves St. Louis Blues/Cardinals/Rams fans and reject the reunification of the County and City. Whether we win or lose it is time to lace up those skates, tune up those guitars, wipe away our tears, and get to work. We can listen to our history and beat as one heart—or we can ignore our wounds and slowly bleed out. Pull your tooth out, get a few stitches, and start living St. Louis Strong.