The St. Louis Blues were founded in 1967 as one of the six expansion teams during the NHL’s 1967 expansion era. The Blues have yet to win a Stanley Cup in their 50-year history but have made it to the Stanley Cup Final on three separate occasions and have always been looked at as one of the better and more consistent teams in the NHL. The Blues own the third-highest consecutive playoff streak record of 25 seasons and have won one Presidents’ Trophy (during the 1999-2000 season).
St. Louis, Missouri has always been a fantastic place to play hockey. The Blues always have always had near-the-top attendance ratings and boast an excellent list of alumni players such as Wayne Gretzky, Bernie Federko, Al MacInnis, Brett Hull, Chris Pronger and potential Hockey Hall-of-Fame inductee, Keith Tkachuk. Out of all the alumni, who is the best St. Louis-born player to play for his hometown?
The moment Patrick Maroon steps onto the ice to play his first official game as a member of the St. Louis Blues, he will be the best hometown Blues player in the team’s history. On July 10, the St. Louis native decided to sign a one-year contract with the Blues worth $1.75 million.
The 30-year-old will be entering his 8th season in the NHL, and before signing with the Blues, he played for the New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks. Maroon entered the NHL scene permanently in 2012-2013, where he has since made a name for himself as a trusted top-nine forward who provides size, grit and the ability to put the puck in the net.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) July 11, 2018
Maroon just turned 30 and will be a vital part of the Blues’ offense this season. The signing of Maroon is one of the many offseason moves that general manager Doug Armstrong has made to get his club back into the playoffs after missing it in 2017-18 by just a single point.
If you were an avid follower of the NHL from 2005 to 2012, you knew just who this guy was. What is one way to sum up Cam Janssen’s career? A very loved but hated player. Janssen played a total of 165 games for his hometown from 2008-2011 and tallied a total of two goals and nine points. Janssen was not known for his scoring abilities but still often found the scoresheet in a different way, as he tallied 470 penalty minutes over his four seasons with the Blues.
Janssen made a living of being a fourth-line pest and was a fan favorite no matter what city he played in. He was traded to the Blues in exchange for Bryce Salvador in 2008, and as soon as Janssen was acquired, John Davison, the Blues’ President at the time, said the following:
“We feel that Cam’s style of play will bring energy and grit to our lineup and being from St. Louis, feel that he will be an instant fan favorite here.”
Players like Janssen at the NHL level are almost extinct—you just do not see them much anymore. Now largely gone from the game, back in the early 2000ss the game of hockey was played much differently, as team’s fourth lines were often stacked by grinders that could fight and add grit, toughness and intimidation. In 2018, if you look around the NHL, the fourth line narrative has changed; there is no room for a player like Janssen—it is all about speed and skill.
Chris Butler is the most recent St. Louis-born player to play a game for the Blues. Butler, a 31-year-old veteran, has most recently spent his time floating between the NHL and AHL over the past couple of seasons. Before joining the Blues in 2014, Butler played for three NHL teams, where he was known as a reliable and steady two-way defenseman. Butler was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2004 and played 3 full seasons for the Sabres before he was traded to the Calgary Flames for a second round pick in 2012 (now Jake McCabe). In July of 2014, Butler was a free agent and opted to sign with his hometown Blues.
Butler played 33 games for the Blues in 2014-15 where he tallied 9 points and had a plus-8 rating. Since his 2014-2015 season, Butler has struggled to stick in the NHL as he has only played in a total of 12 games over that span. Last season, Butler appeared in six games for the Blues, where he had a plus-1 rating and logged just over 13 minutes of ice time per game.
Butler should realistically see some time for the Blues during the 2018-19 season, but it should only be for a handful of games once again since the Blues have a deep defensive corps. Butler has put up solid numbers in the AHL the past two seasons, with 55 points in a combined 133 games.
What Could Have Been
Pat LaFontaine is by far the top St. Louis-born player who never played for his hometown. LaFontaine played in a total of 865 games for the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers and tallied an impressive 1,013 points. The NHL considers him one of the top 100 players to ever play the game of hockey.
Other notable St. Louis born players that never played for their hometown were Paul Ranhiem, who played over 1,000 games in the NHL, and Landon Wilson (375 NHL games).
What Could Be: Future St. Louis-Born Blues
Even though the current list of St. Louis-born players is a little bit thin, there are still some players that can strengthen the list in the future. Two of the biggest prospects to headline the future St. Louis born Blues players are Keith Tkachuk’s son, Brady Tkachuk, and Ryan MacInnis, who is the son of former Blues captain Al MacInnis. Both Brady and Ryan both grew up playing minor hockey with the St. Louis AAA Blues U16 and have yet to play a game in the NHL but have bright futures.
Other current NHL players that were born in St. Louis that have not yet played for the Blues are Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry, Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Wideman, New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield, Ottawa Senators goaltender Mike McKenna and Boston Bruins 2016 first-round pick Trent Frederic.