CIVIC

We All Bleed Blue: Inside the St. Louis Blues’ Extreme Fanbase

Just under four minutes into the overtime period in game two of the Stanley Cup Finals, Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarson ripped a shot past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to level the series at one game apiece.

A crowd of nearly 20,000 at Enterprise Center in Downtown St. Louis erupted when the puck found the back of the net. The arena turned into a state of bedlam as fans roared and “Gloria” boomed through the streets. Even usher Tom Maddox was slapping high-fives with fans in the corridors after the victory.

The craziest part? The action was taking place 1,200 miles away in Boston.

It takes a special breed of fans to sell out an entire arena to watch an away game. But as any St. Louisan will tell you, that’s how we do it here. For decades, the St. Louis Cardinals have cultivated a reputation for having the best fans in baseball. But between sell-out watch parties, impromptu a capella national anthems, and some bizarre superstitions, we have to raise the question:

Do the Blues have the best fanbase in the NHL?

To answer that question, let’s revisit the story of St. Louis Blues superfan Danette Duckworth.

Buried in Blue

Duckworth’s beloved Blues were in next-to-last place in the Central Division when she was confronted with devastating news: Her cancer had returned and was spreading. And yet, Duckworth kept her spirits high with a bold prediction:

2019 will be our year.

After 38 years of watching the Blues with her husband, Ken, Danette passed away on February 2nd. She was buried in the jersey of her favorite Blues player, Chuck Lefley, who played during the ‘70s and ‘80s. Danette, a superfan if there ever was one, urged her family to witness a Blues Stanley Cup game in person if they just so happened to make it. Well, they fulfilled her wish, as Ken and his daughters attended Game Three at Enterprise Center.

“She waited 49 years for this, and now she has the best seat in the house,” he said.

Dirty Jerseys, “Winchiladas,” and “Gloria”

Less tear-jerking (but equally impressive) are the superstitions that Blues fans adopted to preserve this year’s unprecedented playoff run.

In late May, KMOV’s Brenden Schaeffer took to Twitter to ask Blues fans: “Do you have any superstitions or game day rituals you’ve been observing throughout these playoffs?”

Some fans swear by lucky sweatshirts, jerseys, and t-shirts.

“You don’t want to know the last time this yellow Blues shirt was washed,” said one fan. Another has worn the same jersey and hat every game day—unwashed—even at a wedding rehearsal.

“During the 11-game win streak I ate a ridiculous amount of enchiladas,” said another. “I now call them Winchiladas. I’ll be picking some up on my way home tonight.”

And then there’s the ultimate tradition: singing “Gloria” after a win. Radio stations are playing it nonstop and it’s stuck in Blues fans’ heads. But what exactly is the story behind the song?

Early in the season, Laura Branigan’s song from 1982 was adopted adopted as the team’s post-game victory song. According to a February article from NHL.com, Alexander Steen, Joel Edmundson, Robert Bortuzzo, Jaden Schwartz, and Robby Fabbri were watching the Eagles/Bears NFC Wild Card game in January when a DJ played ‘Gloria’ during a commercial break.

“This one guy looked at the DJ and said ‘keep playing Gloria!’” Edmondson told stlouisblues.com. “Right there we decided we should play the song after our wins. We won the next game, we got a shutout, so we just kept on playing it.”

According to USA Today, “Gloria,” reached as high as No. 44 on the iTunes chart earlier this month after St. Louis native Pat Maroon scored in double overtime of Game 7 against the Dallas Stars in the second round.

The “Rally Note”

As if wearing dirty clothes, eating enchiladas every day, and spending eternity in a Blues jersey wasn’t enough to prove St. Louis’ support for the Blues, a Hazelwood resident has emblazoned a giant Blues logo on his front lawn for the past four years.

“I call it the rally Note,” Zach Pyles told KSDK. “The first year I painted it was 2015.”

Of course, a Stanley Cup victory would make his effort (he used 30 cans of paint) so much sweeter. Regardless, anybody willing to endure St. Louis summer heat to paint a logo on their lawn is a certifiable super-fan.

Not from St. Louis? You Wouldn’t Understand

Whether we’re playing “Gloria” on repeat, refusing to wash our clothes, or spending hard-earned money to watch the Stanley Cup on a jumbotron, outsiders just don’t get it. Sports fans—especially Blues fans—are cut from a different cloth in the Gateway City. Maybe it’s because we haven’t been to the Stanley Cup final since the Beatles broke up. Maybe it’s because we have unrivaled civic pride.

Love us or hate us, one thing is certain: We all bleed blue, and this is the best time to be a Blues fan in the franchise’s 52-year history.