The symbolism could hardly be lost on St. Louisans as they watched their hockey team spring from the depths of despair — last place in the league — to win the Stanley Cup last week. The Blues own the win, but St. Louis owns the story.
Going from “worst to first” in a single season, the Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas wrote after the game, is unheard of in elite-level sports.
Whether it’s football, baseball, basketball or hockey, no major sports team has accomplished a come-from-behind surge to victory of this magnitude.
There’s a message here for all St. Louisans: No matter how dismal things might appear, keep clawing, keep fighting, find a way to unite. And never give up.
St. Louis has suffered a spate of soul-crushing bad news in recent years with Ferguson, the departure of the Rams, a top national ranking for violent crime, deepening financial woes and never-ending corruption scandals.
No matter who tries to present a plan to unify the disparate political and social forces across the city and county, rancor and division always seem to prevail.
St. Louis’ reputation wasn’t of a city worthy of being celebrated but a place to be avoided. The crumbling brick houses of blighted neighborhoods became the backdrop for at least one television series to depict emblematic urban decay.
St. Louis became shorthand in the national conversation for racial tensions and police abuses. To the outside world, this area just looked like one big mess better bypassed or viewed from the rearview mirror.
But those of us who know the city from inside understand why appearances can be so deceiving.
Even while the Blues played their hearts out 1,100 miles away in Boston, St. Louisans filled the Enterprise Center to capacity.
Down the street, another 23,400 fans packed into Busch Stadium even as persistent drizzle did its best to dampen spirits and convince everyone that, really, wouldn’t it be better to go home and watch this game from the living room sofa?
At the Muny Opera, the cast of “Guys and Dolls” broke character to break out in song, leading the entire audience in a rousing rendition of “Gloria.”
While fans and nonfans alike poured into the streets to celebrate, others who were mindful that Thursday was, alas, still a workday found ways to celebrate remotely — using the emergency button on their key fobs to activate their car alarms.
And so, one by one, empty parked cars on residential streets erupted in weird celebration.
On eBay, there was another weird milestone. A single stadium edition of your local newspaper was advertised for $24.98.
This victory means so much more than the Cup itself. It’s a testament to the greatness that is St. Louis and an advertisement to the world: Don’t ever count us out.
Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.