ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues march into the holiday break after winning three times in a five-game roadtrip, their longest of the 2022 calendar year.
A year defined by ups and downs has sparked some notable moments in Blues franchise history. St. Louis secured a playoff spot for the 10th time in 11 seasons, and the Blues have played to the tune of a 47-29-8 record (102 points) over the 2022 calendar year with a few more games remaining next week. For much of the year, the Blues have found new ways to build tradition in a time of transition.
Without further ado, here is a look back at ten memorable moments from the 2022 St. Louis Blues calendar year:
10. New 100-club members
Jordan Binnington and Pavel Buchnevich needed until the year’s final month to reach special 100 milestones as members of the Blues. Binnington won his 100th NHL game behind a shutout of the Nashville Predators on Dec. 12. He became only the sixth goalie (and third fastest) to reach that mark with the Blues.
Buchnevich lit the lamp on Dec. 20 against the Seattle Kraken for his 100th point on the Blues (41 goals, 59 assists). He reached triple digits in less than 100 games with the team, one of only eight to do so in Blues history. That list also includes Hall of Famers Adam Oates and Brett Hull.
9. Committed to ‘Chief’
The only coach to lead the Blues to a Stanley Cup in five-plus decades stays put in St. Louis. Craig Berube agreed to a three-year contract extension on Feb. 9, reaching a new deal months before his previous contract was set to expire.
“Chief” currently has the third-most wins in franchise history (156). He’s 153 wins away and 320 games away from the all-time lead, held by Joel Quenneville. He would likely need beyond his current contract to attain both feats, but if the results keep coming (.640 winning percentage with Blues), anything’s possible.
8. Honoring Hall of Famers
A new number joined the rafters at Enterprise Center on Jan. 17. The Blues honored Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger by retiring his No. 44. Pronger celebrated in epic fashion, chugging a beer after his ceremony speech. As one of only two Blues Hart Trophy-winners ever, it’s fair to say he earned it.
Months later, the St. Louis Blues launched a franchise “Blues Hall of Fame” to honor several all-time greats. The Blues selected ten inaugural members in September before a selection committee inducted four more members, including three original Blues, ahead of the 2022-23 season opener in October.
7. ‘Reverse retro’ rolls out
A new “Reverse Retro” jersey brought back an old-fashioned St. Louis Blues look with a new twist. Adidas launched new “reverse retro” uniforms for all 32 NHL teams in October. For the Blues, that consisted of a gold-colored jersey with the team name floating around a singular blue musical note.
Some design elements are similar to the Blues’ Winter Classic jerseys last season. The jersey’s design is based on an original prototype created before the team’s inaugural 1967-68 season. The Blues have already worn it four times, and will sport the gold three more times this season.
6. Playoff hat tricks
Two of the most prolific scorers in recent Blues history provided a spark en route to a first-round playoff series win over the Minnesota Wild. In the series opener, David Perron delivered a natural hat trick with goal in each of the game’s three periods. In Game 5, to reclaim a series lead, Vladimir Tarasenko tallied three in the third period alone.
Perron, a longtime fan favorite, departed the Blues midsummer after 11 seasons over three stints. Tarasenko’s current contract will expire after the 2022-23 season, and perhaps a new deal could become a priority after the Blues parted ways with another savvy veteran in Perron.
5. Motherly momentum
History shows that the Blues deliver when their parents come in bunches to enjoy hockey games. After several fathers’ trips, leading to a 7-1-1 record, the mothers got a turn and kept the momentum rolling.
The Blues treated 21 mothers to a thrilling 3-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 15 and a dominating 5-2 defeat of the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 17. While many mothers met for the first time, there was instant camaraderie. They even assembled to sing John Denver’s “Country Roads,” a tradition that has gained popularity late in Blues games in recent seasons, after the first win.
“I told you guys they’d come through,” head coach Craig Berube told media after the Colorado win.
4. Record contract extensions
It’s never too early to start planning for the future, and the Blues did just that in the 2022 offseason. St. Louis locked up young forwards Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou to matching contract extensions, now representing the two richest deals in team history.
Starting next season, contracts worth $65 million over eight years will take effect for Thomas and Kyrou. Thomas ended the 2021-22 season with personal bests in goals (20), assists (57) and points (77). Kyrou only finished two points behind him, while also enjoying his first All-Star Game selection and a victory in the fastest skater competition last winter.
3. Jon Hamm provides a spark
“Mad Men” star Jon Hamm is a St. Louis sports superfan and just about as loyal of a Blues fan as anyone you’ll find. Throughout the years, he has developed a lucky charm through guests appearances on Blues broadcasts. In 2022, that happened twice, both times involving big moments from his personal-favorite Ivan Barbashev.
On April 24, the third to last game of the 2021-22 regular season, Hamm described Barbashev as a “sparkplug” to Bally Sports Midwest broadcaster John Kelly in a road game in Anaheim. Literally, within the next few seconds, Barbashev scored a go-ahead goal for an iconic call. Just last month, Hamm followed it up by joining a broadcast against the Vegas Golden Knights. And poetically, Barbashev scored again.
Two moments Hollywood couldn’t pen up any better. Barabshev even took a photo with Hamm after the win over Vegas last month.
2. Winter Classic, indeed a classic
Let the current cold stretch serve as a reminder that the Blues started 2022 battling similar elements. The Blues traveled north to Target Field in Minneapolis for their second-ever Winter Classic contest. The Minnesota Wild played host, and the temperature was minus-5.7 degrees at puck drop, the coldest game in NHL history.
On New Year’s Day, St. Louis erupted for five goals in the second period, four through which Jordan Kyrou chimed in with a tally or assist. Vladimir Tarasenko scored in his second straight Winter Classic, Jordan Binnington made 29 saves and the Blues outlasted the Wild and weather for a 6-4 win.
The game served as inspiration for an anthem in Blues wins for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. Ahead of the Winter Classic, the Blues embraced the frigid conditions by wearing nontraditional beach-day attire, like Hawainn shirts and sandals, as they left the hotel. In home wins to follow, the Blues blasted “Fun, Fun, Fun” from The Beach Boys as a reminder of the wild, but spirited shenanigans.
1. Improbable Game 5 comeback
Not many teams gave the eventual 2022 Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche as much of a challenge as the division-rival St. Louis Blues. A second-round playoff series upset looked bleak when Jordan Binnington took a big blow from then-Avalanche enforcer Nazem Kadri in Game 3 on May 21. On the brink of elimination days later, the Blues showed no quit.
In Game 5, on May 25, St. Louis fell behind 3-0 early into the second period. Shots and lengthy puck possession were tough to order. But the Blues battled amid dire circumstances, answering with three consecutive goals and matching the score within five minutes of regulation’s end.
Colorado struck magic quickly after that, pulling ahead on a Nathan MacKinnon goal with under three in regulation. In the final minute, with the goalie pulled, Robert Thomas struck gold and tied the game once again to force overtime. That left the Blues in a situation where the next goal would either extend or end their season. In improbable fashion, veteran Tyler Bozak ripped a shot past Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper just 3:38 into overtime to complete the comeback and save the season, albeit very briefly.
Two days later, St. Louis jumped to an early lead in Game 6 back home, but Colorado staged a late comeback to take the series and advance to the Western Conference Final. The Game 5 thriller, perhaps more so than any game this year, showed the Blues can still hang with the league’s top teams and overcome obstacles when times get tough.
If the Blues can approach 2023 with a similar mindset to the one exhibited in Game 5, it could work wonders as they look to move past an early-season eight-game losing streak and back into the playoff picture.