Blues’ 12 Days of Hockeymas: 9 Notable Captains

The ’12 Days of Christmas’ is a classic holiday song first published in its current form in 1908. In a nod to the classic carol, join The Hockey Writers as we count down the 12 Days of Hockeymas. Each day, we will provide you with a piece of hockey history as we eagerly await the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.

The St. Louis Blues have had a lot of captains over their 53-year franchise history. There are some notable ones that many may not know were the captain of the team or even played for the Blues at some point in time.

Al Arbour (1967-1970, 1971)

Arbour was the first captain in franchise history and was a part of the 1968, 1969 and 1970 Stanley Cup Final runs that all ended in sweeping defeats. He will always be known as one of the greatest coaches in hockey history, but he was a great leader on the ice prior to that.

Al Arbour
Al Arbour (THW Archives)

He wasn’t a point scorer by any means, but he was a great leader and knew where to be on the ice at all times. He finished fifth in Norris voting for the 1968-69 season.

During his last season as a player with the Blues in 1970-71, he was hired mid-season as the head coach. He led them to the postseason in the first season.

He was fired after 107 games over three seasons in the 1972-73 season. He went onto coach the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups and right into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He won 782 games as a coach.

He was a great first captain with his leadership skills, leading them to three Cups in a row.

Barclay Plager (1972-1976)

The Plager family is a huge part of the Blues franchise, in every way, and Barclay was the captain of the team for multiple seasons.

The Blues first acquired the oldest of the three Plager brothers from the New York Rangers in 1967. He anchored a stingy Blues defense that allowed the fewest goals in 1969.

He became the second captain in franchise history in 1972 and led by example. His defensive ability to go along with his leadership was a sign of what the Blues look for in their future captains.

He spent his entire 10-season NHL career with the Blues before retiring and getting into coaching. His No. 8 was retired by the Blues in 1981.

Brian Sutter (1979-1988)

Sutter is another captain turned coach who was a great leader and player on the ice. He was a big part of the Blues’ organization for a long time.

Sutter spent his entire 12-season playing career with the Blues and during his prime, he was an excellent point-scoring two-way forward. He became the captain of the Blues at the age of 23 in 1979.

He played in three All-Star games with the Blues over his career and his career-best season was 83 points in 1983-84.

He became the head coach of the Blues directly after his career ended in 1988, he made the playoffs in all four seasons coaching in St. Louis, winning the Jack Adams Award in 1991 for the league’s best coach.

Overall, he scored 636 points in 779 games and was a rare player who spent his career with one team and was the captain of the team for the majority of his career. His No. 11 is retired by the Blues.

Bernie Federko (1988-1989)

Federko spent 13 of his 14 NHL seasons with the Blues and was the captain in his final season with the club. He is, undoubtedly, one of the best players to ever play in the organization.

Bernie Federko
2000 Season: Bernie Federko, St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

During his career, he was a dynamic playmaker that scored over 100 points on four different occasions. He also scored over 80 points in five different seasons as well, which is nine total seasons with 80 points or more.

In his final season with the Blues when he was the captain, he scored 67 points in 65 games and the team finished second in the Norris division. They lost in the Division Semi-Finals in five games to the Minnesota North Stars.

He was traded to the Detroit Red Wings following his only season as the captain of the Blues and retired after one season in Detroit after not getting the desired playing time that he wanted, behind Steve Yzerman.

Brett Hull (1992-1995)

Hull is clearly one of the best players to ever play for the Blues. He played 11 seasons with the club and is still a big name associated with the franchise today.

Brett Hull
MONTREAL 1990’s: Brett Hull #16 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the Montreal Canadiens in the 1990’s at the Montreal Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

He scored over 40 goals over seven different seasons with the Blues. He won the Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award prior to becoming the captain.

He became the captain of the Blues in 1992 and served until October of 1995 when his clashes with new coach Mike Keenan got worse and he was stripped of the “C.”

Hull left the Blues after 1998 and had his No. 16 retired in 2006.

Wayne Gretzky (1996)

The Blues traded for Gretzky in the middle of the 1995-96 season and he only spent a couple of months with the club, playing in a total of 31 games between the regular season and playoffs.

Wayne Gretzky with Brett Hull
1999 Season: Wayne Gretzky with Brett Hull (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

After Hull was stripped of the captaincy in October 1995, Shayne Corson was the captain from then until the Gretzky trade, as The Great One became the captain after that.

Despite only spending a small portion of one season in St. Louis, the Blues having the greatest player in the history of hockey play for them for a period of time is special.

The Blues came within one game of the Conference Finals in 1996, but Gretzky took less money on an incentivized deal with the Rangers.

Chris Pronger (1997-2003)

Pronger became the captain of the team at the height of his game in 1997, before winning the Hart and Norris Trophies in the 1999-00 season. He was the ultimate defensive force and leader on the ice.

Chris Pronger St. Louis Blues
Chris Pronger, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Despite only winning the Norris Trophy once, Pronger finished top five in voting for it four different times with the Blues.

He made it to multiple All-Star games while with the Blues and was a fan favorite player after being dealt to St. Louis in the 1990s for the equally popular Brendan Shanahan.

He left the Blues in 2005 after being traded to the Edmonton Oilers during the lockout due to potential salary cap implications.

The Blues announced during the 2019-20 season that they would retire Pronger’s No. 44, becoming the eighth player to get his number retired by the franchise.

Al MacInnis (2003-2004)

MacInnis is a legendary Blues player and a Hockey Hall of Famer, who spent 10 seasons with the franchise and still has a job in the front office with them today.

Al Macinnis St Louis Blues
Al Macinnis, St Louis Blues (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

MacInnis became the interim captain of the team during the 2002-03 season when Pronger broke his arm. During that season, he scored 16 goals and tallied 52 assists for 68 points, leading all defensemen that season. He finished second in Norris Trophy voting behind Nicklas Lidstrom.

Prior to the 2003-04 season, Pronger insisted that MacInnis be named permanent captain of the team. MacInnis only played three games that season due to a detached retina in one eye following a high stick.

He retired after the 2003-04 season, while he was only the captain for a short period of time, his impact during the season where he wore the “C” was impressive. His No. 2 was retired by the Blues in April of 2006.

Alex Pietrangelo (2016-2020)

Pietrangelo is the most recent captain of the Blues and spent four seasons doing so until departing for the Vegas Golden Knights in free agency.

Alex Pietrangelo St. Louis Blues
Alex Pietrangelo, former St. Louis Blue (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He scored over 40 points in all four of his seasons as the captain and his most recent season with 52 was his best. He has the most assists by a defenseman in Blues’ history with 341.

He became the first captain in franchise history to raise the Stanley Cup after the 2019 win. He was a massive piece to the puzzle in the franchise and it is unfortunate that he couldn’t sign an extension to stay in St. Louis.

He is the most accomplished Blues’ defenseman in a long time and the fan base appreciated his effort. I wonder if his No. 27 will ever be lifted up to the rafters when he retires, time will tell.

The Blues have had a lot of legendary players come through town and lead the team. There are five Hockey Hall of Fame players on this list. The Blues aren’t an “Original Six” team, but they have a lot of rich history since joining the league in 1967.


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