Four of America’s most famous and influential Presidents are emblazoned in stone across the face of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The monument was finished in 1941, and ever since, it has stood as a memory of the great men that helped shape their country.
Of course, it has also served as a platform for debate amongst sports fans everywhere, as they try to decide the four greatest players in their franchise’s history. That’s what we’ll be doing today: discussing the four greatest St. Louis Blues in history.
For this post, we will be judging based off a player’s contribution to the Blues’ franchise, so, for example, Wayne Gretzky, who played half of one season in St. Louis, will not be considered. Now, without further ado, let’s get to the list.
Bernie Federko (1976-1989)
There are two players who are indisputably on the Blues’ Mt. Rushmore, and the first is Bernie Federko. The Hockey Hall of Fame member is the Blues’ career leader in games played, assists, and points, and is criminally underrated in the annals of NHL history overall.
Federko played 927 games in St. Louis before playing a final season with the Detroit Red Wings (where he achieved exactly 1,000 career games played). He finished his distinguished career with 352 goals and 721 assists, well over a point per game. He is also the first player in NHL history with 50-plus assists in 10 straight seasons.
The Blues make a habit of keeping franchise greats in the fold, but few have a more public profile than Federko, who is an in-studio analyst for the Blues’ broadcast on Fox Sports Midwest. To the average fan, he is among the most recognizable faces of the franchise, and he absolutely deserves a spot on their Mt. Rushmore.
Brett Hull (1988-1996)
The other unquestioned face on the Blues’ Mt. Rushmore is “the Golden Brett” himself, Brett Hull. He is fourth all-time in games played for the Blues (744), first in goals (527
Hull is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and is fourth all time in goals, with 741. He’s one of just two players to win the Hart Trophy with the Blues, and one of three to bring home the Lady Byng. In fact, the season in which he won the Hart was the most prolific era-adjusted goal scoring season in NHL history.
While some of Hull’s most famous moments (yes, his foot was in the crease) and both of his Stanley Cup wins came once he had moved on to the Dallas Stars and the Red Wings, he is still permanently associated with the Blues, and he is absolutely one of the best players in the history of the franchise.
Al MacInnis (1994-2003)
The choice of a defenseman for the Blues’ Mt. Rushmore is a relative coin flip between two all-time greats: Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger. In the end, we’ve selected MacInnis because of his longevity with the team and his continued role with the franchise.
MacInnis is a Hall of Fame defenseman who spent a decade with the Blues after well over a decade with the Calgary Flames. He is one of two Norris Trophy winners in Blues’ history, winning the award in the 1999-2000 season (the year before Pronger brought it to St. Louis). With the Blues, he recorded 452 points in 613 games, making him the leading defensive scorer in team history. He did a lot of that scoring with his slap shot, which is legendary.
MacInnis remains with the organization, currently serving as the Senior Advisor to General Manager Doug Armstrong. He has taken other defensemen like Erik Johnson, Alex Pietrangelo, and Colton Parayko under his wing, and is a giant figure in Blues’ history.
Brian Sutter (1976-1988)
Blues fans love grit, determination, and effort, and no one embodied those attributes more than Brian Sutter, the longest-serving captain in the team’s history. He led the team from 1979 to 1988, playing alongside Federko, who only served as captain for one season after Sutter’s retirement.
Sutter is third in team history in games played (779), assists (333), and points (636), and was considered for the Hart Trophy and the Selke Trophy at the height of his career. He is also the only of these four players to play his entire career in St. Louis.
Almost immediately upon retirement, he was named head coach, and won the Jack Adams Award for his work with the team in 1991. Between playing and coaching, Sutter spent the first sixteen years of his adult life as part of the Blues’ franchise.
There are a number of players who are more famous in a Blues’ sweater than Sutter. There are a handful of players who were more skilled while playing in St. Louis as well. But there is no one who more fully embodies what it meant and what it still means to be a Blue than Sutter, who deserves a spot on the team’s Mt. Rushmore every bit as much as the three other names on this list.
Pronger was neck-and-neck with MacInnis for a spot on the mountain. He won the team’s other Norris Trophy, as well as the second Hart Trophy in franchise history in the same season. He was also chosen as one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history, but unlike MacInnis, did not retire with the Blues, and reached some of his greatest heights after he left.
Bobby and Barclay Plager
Bobby and Barclay Plager were both a part of the Blues’ inaugural
Garry Unger is one of the highest-skilled players in franchise history, and is one of the original NHL iron men, setting the record at 914 games in 1979 before it was broken by Doug Jarvis in 1986 (they still stand first and second on the list). He had 575 points in 662 games with the Blues before moving on to the Atlanta Flames in 1979.
The Future of the Blues
Of course, there is one thing that none of these players got to do in a Blues’ sweater; namely, hoist the Stanley Cup above their heads. That honor went to captain Alex Pietrangelo and the 2019-20 roster, who ended the Blues’ 52-year wait for championship glory. With a few more seasons in St. Louis, Pietrangelo, Ryan O’Reilly, or even a youngster like Robert Thomas may well steal a spot on this mountain.
But for now, if you believe a name was wrongfully included or excluded, give us your thoughts. The Blues have a number of great players worthy of consideration for their Mt. Rushmore, but we had to narrow it down to four. There is little question, however, that the four players we’ve selected absolutely embody the great history and passion of this franchise.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.