Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A bunch of Dudes Crying Like Little Girls with Skinned Knees

I officially got off jury duty and am I glad. I was assigned to a high profile criminal case that would’ve at least lasted the rest of this week, if not into next. I have to admit, the defense attorney looked sort of scared when I told him my wife was a journalist. I think Sallie got me off the hook this time. (Or it could be the fact that I told a room full of my “peers” that I wouldn’t convict anyone unless I was convinced 100% without a doubt that they were guilty. I don’t think the prosecutor liked that much.)

To celebrate, Sallie and I bought tickets to Brett Hull Hall of Fame night at the Scottrade Center for $16 a piece.

Thousands of people were lined up outside the gates an hour before they opened wanting to relive the Blues from 1989-1998 with appearances by St. Louis favorites and $9 beers.

The seats were filling up quickly around 6:30 for the anticipated 6:45 kick off to the events. I held a flat, Budwieser in my hands and waited for the lights to dim. Around 6:55, the lights came down and the place erupted like it hasn’t since the Arena ceased to be.

Several owners, co-owners, and general rich guys in suits walked out on the carpet on the ice and announced Jeff Courtenall, the Captain of Brett Hull’s dream team. He gave a short, but sweet speech and then announced the rest of the dream team.

Bob Bassen, Kelly Chase, Sergio Momesso, Tony Twist, Rod Brind'Amour, Guy Carbonneau, Geoff Courtnall, Nelson Emerson, Bernie Federko, Doug Gilmour, Jeff Brown, Garth Butcher, Steve Duchesne, Phil Housley (I ran into his crotch once when I was young. Will never forget that.) Scott Stevens, Grant Fuhr, and Curtis Joseph.
Then, the largest surprise of the night, the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky was there. It’s the only time I’ve seen him in person and he is a handsome man. I could kiss him and it wouldn’t even be gay. It’d be respectable, soft, and romantic.
Then Brett Hull came out to an eruption of cheers. He made a speech about how great the Flames and the Blues were to his career and how his heart will never leave St. Louis. (At one point a fan screamed that he hates Mike Keenan to an entire arena of laughter and agreement.) They then showed a career highlight reel with Brett Hull quotes dubbed over it.

The Blues started skating on the ice as the Dream Team entered the locker room again, but Brett Hull stayed back to shake hands with every player and wish them luck.

As soon as it was done, 5,000 dudes had to pee. I stood in line and looked around at all the misty eyed 25+ year old guys rubbing away tears and trying to cover with “That Mike Keenan comment was great.” It was a bathroom with 150 crying dudes like a bunch of girls with skinned knees. That’s the power of the Golden Brett.
Then, the Blues having the worst home record in the NHL, played as if they were playing for Brett and Gretzky. It was an exciting game, constantly swinging back and forth. Then with only a few minutes left in the third period, our young gun T.J. Oshie fires one into the net. The Blues win 4-3.

This is the first time I haven’t seen a St. Louis venue empty out ¾ of the way through the game. Every person was still there, standing in front of their seats, screaming their lungs out. It was like being at The Old Barn circa 1990 all over again. The madness and devotion of St. Louis fans returned, if only for that one night.