The St. Louis Blues will be on home ice tonight for Game 6 of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks. If they win, they will advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1970, to face the same team that they did then, the Boston Bruins.
While a Stanley Cup appearance would be huge for the franchise, it would also be a life-changing opportunity for the players. Only one player on the Blues roster has played for the Cup: David Perron, who did it with the Vegas Golden Knights last season, while one other (Oskar Sundqvist) has played for a championship team though he did not play in the final round. Every other player is looking for their first opportunity but a few veterans have been waiting longer than most.
Alex Steen: A Family Affair
For Alexander Steen, a Stanley Cup championship would be not only a personal achievement, but the fulfillment of a family dream. Steen’s father, Thomas, is a Winnipeg Jets legend and played all but two seasons during its original NHL run. The elder Steen played 950 games in the NHL, scored 817 points, and had his number retired by the Jets, but like his son, never had the chance to play for the Cup.
The younger Steen has now surpassed his father in games played with 963 career regular-season games and 605 points to his credit, most of them with the Blues. He was traded to St. Louis in 2009 along with Carlo Colaiacovo in one of the better trades in franchise history.
Since then, he has been a centerpiece for the Blues, consistently scoring double-digit goals, with four seasons of 20-plus goals and one season surpassing 30. He’s also received votes for the Selke Trophy seven times and has been one of the Blues’ alternate captains since 2011.
Yet, like his father, Steen has never had the opportunity to play for the Cup. With a win on Tuesday or Thursday night, Alex will get a chance to fulfill a dream his family has held for almost 40 years.
Jay Bouwmeester: Years of Waiting
Though Jay Bouwmeester is no less deserving of a Cup opportunity. Though he was the third-overall pick in 2002, he only played in one postseason game before he was traded to the Blues in 2013.
All told, Bouwmeester has played 1184 career regular-season games with the Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, and Blues, logging 415 points in that time. He has the ninth longest consecutive games played streak in NHL history, with 737 consecutive games from 2004 to 2014.
It’s an impressive resume, but one that won’t be complete without that last great achievement. Bouwmeester is sixth among active players in games played, but no other player has played as many games without appearing in the Stanley Cup Final. One more victory for the Blues, and that distinction will move on from Bouwmeester to Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild.
Tyler Bozak: A Wise Gamble
When Tyler Bozak signed with the Blues in the offseason, he wrote an article for the Players’ Tribune explaining what the Toronto Maple Leafs meant to him. In the article, he also explained why he chose the Blues as his destination in free agency. He put it bluntly:
I want to win a Cup. So damn bad. That’s why I signed in St. Louis. There’s your headline. Print it.
Tyler Bozak, explaining why he chose St. Louis in free agency
At the time, that seemed like an audacious statement. Though the Blues were a consistently good team, they hadn’t made the playoffs at all the season before Bozak signed. But he believed that they were his best shot at making the Stanley Cup Final, and now, he’s one game away from realizing that dream after a 666 game regular season career.
One Win Away
The Blues are one win away from playing for the greatest prize in hockey. But Joe Thornton, Erik Karlsson (who will miss Tuesday’s game), Joe Pavelski (who is a game-time decision) and many other Sharks want to prevent that from happening in order to achieve their own glory. The puck drops at 7:00 PM for is the most significant hockey game in St. Louis since 1970.