Having a number retired in an organization is quite an honor, it shows that you are a legend of a franchise. The St. Louis Blues have retired multiple numbers of legendary players, from Al MacInnis to Brett Hull, and many more.
The Blues recently announced during the 2019-20 season that they would be retiring Chris Pronger’s No.44, and deservedly so. Here are some players of the past and present, and whether we could see them get their numbers sent up to the rafters.
Garry Unger (#7)
The Blues acquired Unger in Feb. 1971 from the Detroit Red Wings. Many consider Unger to be the “First Blues superstar player.”
He played nearly nine seasons with the Blues and was the team’s leading scorer in five of them, finishing second on the team on two occasions. He scored 70-plus points four times with the Blues, tallying 575 points in 662 games with the Blues.
With Unger being on some fairly successful Blues teams and him being labeled as the team’s first superstar, he deserves some serious consideration for the honor of retiring #7.
A big roadblock for retiring Unger’s number is the fact that Red Berenson also wore the number 7 for quite some time, as did Keith Tkachuk. All three of the players that wore the number were huge parts of the history of the franchise. Maybe they look into a trio of players that wore number 7 and have them all up in the rafters.
The issues can be tough to figure out, but I believe at some point it will be resolved.
Red Berenson (#7 or #9)
Berenson is a tricky one, as he wore #7 during his first stint with the Blues and #9 during his second one. He was traded to the team in 1967 from the New York Rangers. Barclay Plager was also involved in that trade — he had his #8 retired in 1981.
He became a legend of the franchise, being on the original expansion team. He was top five in Hart trophy voting twice with the Blues. He was a quality goal scorer in St. Louis, scoring over a point per game in multiple seasons. He ranks 7th in franchise history with his 29 game-winning goals.
He tallied up 412 points in 519 overall games, over the span of nearly seven seasons. Berenson is a franchise legend and his number could be one that’s retired, whether it’s #7 or #9. A lot of the development of the Blues in the early days of the franchise are due to the contributions of Berenson, and that cannot be overlooked.
Vladimir Tarasenko (#91)
Ever since being a mid-first-round pick of the Blues in 2010, Tarasenko has been virtually the best goal scorer and the face of the franchise. He has been one of the premier goal scorers in the league over the last decade, despite some injuries here and there.
A big part of the case for Tarasenko is the fact that he’s been the offensive player on the team for a long time and was on the team that won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. He was a major part of it with his physicality and key goals throughout the playoffs.
Over the last six seasons, he’s 9th in the entire NHL in goals scored with 185. He’s also 8th in goals per games played at 0.457. For reference, the best in the league in goals per games played over the last six seasons is Alexander Ovechkin at 0.600.
I could absolutely see a scenario where this happens and we see #91 get sent up to the rafters. Time will tell if he can sustain his great play in St. Louis.
Alex Pietrangelo (#27)
I see this one as a potentially easy decision, especially if he stays with the Blues and signs an extension. Pietrangelo has been a constant force on the blue line for the Blues, already having played 758 games with the franchise.
He was the captain of the first championship-winning team in franchise history, that has to hold a lot of weight here. He’s a two-time All-Star and has twice finished second in Norris Trophy voting.
In the last seven seasons, Pietrangelo is 10th in points among defensemen, with 329. He’s also been a machine in terms of his consistent play on the ice, averaging 24 minutes per game over his entire career. He also has shown an ability to score goals, as he is 12th among defensemen over the last seven seasons with 80 goals.
The Blues already have some great defensemen with their numbers retired, MacInnis and soon to be officially honored Pronger. Pietrangelo has earned this honor and I believe there is a strong chance that it could happen once he hangs up his skates.
Some Honorable Mentions
- Alexander Steen has a case to be made, over 750 games with the Blues, and a huge veteran piece to the cup winning team of 2019. He also has multiple top 20 Selke trophy finishes. He’s been a great Blue, and was apart of a big trade in recent Blues’ history, in 2009 from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- Jaden Schwartz was the other Blues’ first-round selection in 2010, and has worked out very well too. He’s scored 364 points in 520 games with the organization while being a top-6 forward and being an absolute motor in every zone. You could also point to his multiple 20 goal seasons and his run in the playoffs last year with 12 goals.
The Blues have plenty of room to retire numbers if they please and I believe there will eventually be a lot of quality players who are worthy candidates. With the trajectory the team is on in terms of winning, who knows what is to come in terms of soon to be franchise legends.
Ethan Carter has been writing at The Hockey Writers for over three years now. He also co-hosts The Blue Note Podcast for the Bleav Network, which covers the Blues and the NHL multiple times per week.