After vanquishing their respective first round foes, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues now face off in the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. The two teams are quite evenly matched: Three of five regular season meetings between the Stars and Blues were decided in overtime or by shootout. The other two games? Blues 3, Stars 0 and Stars 3, Blues 0.
On the ice, the Stars-Blues matchup is much closer than many pundits will admit. While some question the ability of Stars forwards to find a way around the big, heavy Blues defense, others wonder how that defense will hold up against Dallas’ offensive firepower, which is even greater than the vaunted (and vanquished) Chicago Blackhawks’ forward corps.
While the on-ice battle will be decided over the next two weeks, the off-ice competition can be settled right now. Which city is superior, Dallas or St. Louis? Both cities have unique strengths and weaknesses. Since the Stars and Blues are playing a best-of-seven series, I’ve come up with seven ways to compare the cities. Let’s break it down:
We’ll start with a sampling of movies filmed or set in or around the city. This is a representative sample, not a complete list; after all, I’m a hockey writer, not a film critic.
- Dallas: State Fair, Bonnie and Clyde, Bottle Rocket, JFK
- St. Louis: Meet Me in St. Louis, The Spirit of St. Louis, Up in the Air, Escape from New York
Dallas can boast a vintage Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, an iconic outlaw tale, the great Wes Anderson’s directorial debut and an Oliver Stone epic. St. Louis offers a smash-hit Judy Garland musical, Jimmy Stewart as Charles Lindbergh, an Oscar-nominated George Clooney film and a sci-fi cult classic. Tough call. I’ll channel my inner-NHL referee here and deduct points from St. Louis because parts of that city were used as a stand-in for a post-apocalyptic New York. WINNER: DALLAS.
As with movies, these are television shows filmed or set in the city.
- Dallas: Walker, Texas Ranger, Prison Break, Dallas
- St. Louis: Defiance, The John Larroquette Show, Life in Pieces
This isn’t even fair. Cordell Walker and J.R. Ewing versus John Larroquette and…well, Life in Pieces looks like it has a pretty good cast. True story: When my family drove from Texas to Canada on vacation in the summer of 1980, we had the following conversation several times:
Canadian: I see by your license plates you’re from Texas. What part are you from?
Us: We’re from Dallas.
Canadian: Oh! You’re from Dallas, eh? Do you know who shot J.R.?
I’ve never fielded a question about a St. Louis-based TV show. WINNER (in a landslide): DALLAS.
In this category, songs either reference the respective cities in the lyrics or are written and performed by local artists AND are considered uniquely representative of that city. As with previous categories, these selections are highly subjective, according to my personal taste. Deal with it.
- Dallas: Jump On It (Sir Mix-a-Lot), Tush (ZZ Top), Trudy (Charlie Daniels Band), Screw You, We’re From Texas (Ray Wylie Hubbard)
- St. Louis: The Entertainer (Scott Joplin), The St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy), Sweet Little Sixteen and Back in the USA (Chuck Berry), Penrose After Hours (Bennie Smith)
Why Ray Wylie Hubbard’s in-your-face homage to the Lone Star State isn’t played at every Dallas Stars game is one of life’s great mysteries. Name-checked by ZZ Top, jumped on by Sir Mix-a-Lot, and as the setting for Charlie Daniels’ tale of a wayward Cajun roughneck who gets caught up in a crooked poker game in Deep Ellum, Big D is hard to beat.
On the other hand, St. Louis can claim a song so iconic, the local NHL franchise was named for it. Watch the Paul Newman and Robert Redford classic, The Sting, and Scott Joplin’s tune will become part of your DNA. Chuck Berry, the true “King of Rock and Roll,” gave a shout-out to his hometown in two of his greatest hits. If you’re still not convinced, let local legend Bennie Smith remove any doubt:
WINNER: ST. LOUIS.
Many noteworthy individuals were born and/or raised in each city. Here are some of the biggest names:
- Dallas: Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Luke and Owen Wilson, Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow, Robin Wright, Morgan Fairchild, Gina Carano, Aaron Spelling, Barron Hilton
- St. Louis: Leon and Michael Spinks, Maya Angelou, Josephine Baker, Yogi Berra, Chuck Berry, Linda Blair, Harry Caray, Jack Dorsey, Jenna Fischer, John Goodman, Pat LaFontaine
Where do I even begin? The Spinks brothers could beat the Wilson boys without breaking a sweat, and I’d pay to hear Harry Caray call the fight. Aaron Spelling, who gave us Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat and Beverly Hills, 90210, narrowly defeats Jack Dorsey, who gave us Twitter. Is Yogi Berra’s defense enough to stop Bonnie and Clyde’s offensive firepower? Only if his chest protector is made of Kevlar.
So many tough matchups: Claire Underwood vs. Pam Halpert, a real-life hotel mogul (and grandfather to Paris Hilton) vs. “Big” Dan Teague, and so on. In the end, though, only one city has produced an Honored Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. WINNER: ST. LOUIS.
Food and Drink
- Dallas: Frozen Margarita Machine, Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, Tex-Mex, Texas Barbecue, Chicken-Fried Steak
- St. Louis: St. Louis-style Ribs, Toasted Ravioli, Waffle Cones, St. Louis-style Pizza, Concretes, Budweiser
While St. Louis-style ribs are wonderful, slow-smoked Texas brisket is a near-religious experience. Beyond that, this matchup isn’t even close. Waffle cones are great, but they’re merely an ice cream delivery device. Toasted ravioli? A tasty appetizer, nothing more.
Also worthy of mention is the pizza. Three key characteristics define St. Louis-style pizza: Cracker-thin crust, a square cut, and the liberal use of Provel cheese. For the uninitiated, Provel is a blend of provolone, Swiss and Elmer’s Glue. Locals claim to love their unique brand of pizza, but this may just be a city-wide long con, with the rest of America as the “mark.” If you’re ever in The Loo and hungry, stick to the ribs.
Dallas, on the other hand, is where the Frozen Margarita Machine was invented. The prototype is now in the Smithsonian; It’s kind of a big deal. Fletcher’s Corny Dogs are what all other meat on a stick aspires to be. Throw in Tex-Mex and chicken-fried steak, and this category is a blowout for Big D. WINNER: DALLAS.
Historical Events, Architectural Landmarks, Rivers and Festivals
How’s that for random? It’s the NHL Atlantic Division of categories.
- Dallas: Kennedy Assassination, Reunion Tower, Trinity River, State Fair of Texas
- St. Louis: Lewis and Clark Expedition, Gateway Arch, Mississippi River, Fair Saint Louis
This would be a blowout, too, were it not for the joyous awesomeness on a stick that is the State Fair of Texas. No fair can compare. It’s why “Big Tex” is in my Twitter handle. Fantastic fall festival of fried foods aside, Dallas lacks the depth to compete with St. Louis’ awesome talent in this category. WINNER: ST. LOUIS.
Departed/Defunct Pro Sports Teams
For the sake of brevity, I omitted minor league teams in all sports, as well as teams in defunct leagues, such as the NASL or Roller Hockey International. The AFL and ABA merged with the NFL and NBA, respectively, so I kept teams from those leagues on the list.
- Dallas: Texans (NFL), Texans (AFL), Chaparrals (ABA)
- St. Louis: Maroons (NL), Browns (AL), Eagles (NHL), Cardinals (NFL), Rams (NFL), Hawks (NBA), Spirits of St. Louis (ABA)
The relationship between a professional sports franchise and a city is like a marriage. Often, it’s a lifetime of bliss with a few rocky moments mixed in. Sometimes, though, one spouse dies. St. Louis has buried several. On rare occasions, one spouse leaves for a younger, more attractive mate. St. Louis has heard the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech quite a few times. The Blues even had a brief dalliance with Saskatoon, of all places! At this point, Saint Loo should seriously consider counseling, or maybe a good self-help book. WINNER: DALLAS.
The judges (me, myself and I) have tabulated the results, and the final score is Dallas 4, St. Louis 3. It was a hard-fought match, but frozen margaritas, J.R. Ewing and the ability to hold on to pro sports franchises put Dallas over the top. St. Louis’ consolation prize? A lifetime supply of Provel cheese. Seriously, you can keep it.