Is there anything as sweet as a city and its Cinderella hockey team the day after winning the Stanley Cup for the first time? As I drive down a major thoroughfare, driver after driver honks at fans decked out in yellow and blue; these particular fans are lined up outside an Irish pub at 10 o’clock in the morning. These same “we bleed blue” fans hold helium balloons, which bob and weave in the surprisingly cool and crisp June air.
Well before Game 7, my next door neighbor spray painted his lawn with LGB! (“Let’s Go Blues!”) and a freestyled “blue note,” which was surprisingly good.
Somehow last night’s celebratory fireworks did not wake my two-year-old, but I would not have been mad if they had. As Ben Shpigel wrote last night for The New York Times, “Never before Wednesday night could that sentence be written, and so again: The Blues won the Stanley Cup.”
This morning a local radio station offered to make calls to bosses on behalf of hung-over fans throughout St. Louis; upper management was not amused. The neighborhood bakery, the Italian restaurant, and my daughter’s preschool teachers and their charges are adorned in Blues’ colors. The catchphrase “Play Gloria” serves as proclamation and a taunt, especially when St. Louis native and actor Jenna Fischer of The Office fame ices a victory cake as soon as the Blues clinched the Stanley Cup. Fischer makes sure her friend, fellow actor, and diehard Boston Bruins’ fan, John Krasinski, knows she is going to have her “Gloria cake” and eat it, too.
I wonder how many girls will be named after the late Laura Branigan’s 1982 hit. Twitter users suggest the name “Gloria Blue,” and I am sure there will be hockey parents somewhere who follow the Internet’s advice. Kindergarten teachers, in five to six years, will you please let me know what your class rosters look like?
And the celebrations are not just constricted to the streets or visible in labor and delivery rooms throughout St. Louis. YouTube comments on Branigan’s song spilleth over with fans’ excitement and “We did it!” enthusiasm. Everybody loves an underdog story, it seems–from the Blues’ last-place status out of 31 teams in the NHL in January to hoisting the Stanley Cup overhead six months later.
And, let me be clear, I am not really a hockey fan. Sacrilege in this town, I know. I have been to exactly one hockey game in my whole life.
Before you get too mad, give me a mulligan for growing up in the suburbs of Kansas City. On the other side of Missouri, we tend to root more for football, baseball, and college basketball. St. Louis Blues hockey, at least what I knew of it as a teenager in the mid-1990s, was simply a jersey worn by the nerdy debate boy I had a crush on in high school.
So, today I hope James Nelson, ever a loyal and devoted fan, is celebrating somewhere. That hockey fans just like him, those stalwart and newly converted, wear their Blues’ jerseys and t-shirts with the unabashed, well-earned pride that comes from finally tasting victory.