ST. LOUIS – Four years have passed since a major wake-up call in the St. Louis Blues’ only Stanley Cup title season.
Many hockey fans know the narrative of the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues. It started with lots of adversity, including early-season coaching change and a last-place hold near the start of the 2019 calendar year. Then the team got hot behind Larua Branigan’s hit “Gloria,” won a franchise-record 11 straight games and stretched the season all the way to the final possible day to end a 52-year drought without a Stanley Cup championship.
To celebrate the highest of the highs, it’s also critical to remember how the Blues bounced out of the lowest of the lows.
On Dec. 10, 2018, frustration mounted during drills at the Ice Zone in Hazelwood, the former practice facility of the Blues. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and forward Zach Sanford started shoving one another before Bortuzzo dropped the gloves and delivered a few punches to the left side of Sanford’s face. Assistant coach Steve Ott quickly rushed to break up the ruckus.
While both Bortuzzo and Sanford had developed identities as gritty players, the commotion seemed out of the ordinary for hockey standards.
“It happens. Guys are frustrated. And they should be. Sometimes in practice, it boils over and things happen. But it’s fine,” said then interim-head coach Craig Berube to FOX 2 after the practice, downgrading the sour situation.
FOX 2 photographer Dave Sharp caught the brawl and widespread reaction on camera, shared Saturday by Twitter page @STLBluesHistory. At the time of the brawl, the Blues had dropped 10 of their past 14 games and had the third-fewest points in all the NHL.
Perhaps it’s a reminder that things could get better for the Blues after a similar slow start to the 2022-23 season, one leading to just 24 points through 27 games. An in-practice brawl might not be the remedy this time around, but maybe there’s another turning point in store.