Sometimes dreams become nightmares. Or, to be less hyperbolic, sometimes good days become very, very bad.
Sunday was a day full of hope. The St. Louis Blues, my beloved St. Louis Blues to be more specific, were set to take on the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. For the first time in franchise history, the Blues had a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
It was a moment that, as a fan, I’ve been dreaming about my whole life. I’ve lived and died with the Blues fans since I was tiny little kid in a Curtis Joseph custom jersey making goalie saves in my kitchen.
The Blues have had a remarkable history for being so unremarkable. Often good, never great, they had only been to the Cup three times in 52 years and that was only because the league rules were set up in their favor decades ago.
In my life, they had never made it past the third round until this year. In everyone’s life they had never won a Stanley Cup game until this year. Not only did they win one, but they won three of the first five in the best-of-seven series.
The stars were aligned. The Blues had a chance to close it out at home and the fans, myself included, were ready to celebrate.
After the Blues won Game 5 last Thursday night, I was unbelievably excited. I had planned on going downtown to be part of the madness at one of the watch parties.
The ticket prices had long ago surged past my price range and the watch events were free. And then, plans changed. A friend of a friend had an extra ticket and wanted to know if I could go. The price was reasonable and I, of course, said yes.
I then begged Missourian assistant managing editor Gregg Jones to help me cover the Franklin County Fair so I could actually attend. Gregg, being a real mensch, agreed to help me out and allowed me to go to the game.
I have never been so excited and nervous. I didn’t sleep Saturday night and got down to the game Sunday far too early. I was a bundle of nervous energy.
I walked around downtown and enjoyed being around all the Blues fans. The atmosphere was alive. It was unlike anything I had ever been a part of — it felt like everyone was just ready to burst with joy.
I got into the rink (I was one of the first people inside since I got in line so early) and just paced around. Partially I paced because of nerves, but also because it turns out a hockey rink is actually pretty cold when no one else is in your entire section.
Once the seats started to fill up, I warmed up and had my normal pregame feeling — excitement mixed with equal amounts of dread and nausea. If anyone is thinking about becoming a sports fan, just read the previous sentence and reconsider.
At any rate, I and nearly 19,000 of my newest friends all rose to our feet and roared. It was loud. We were amped up. The place was ready to explode.
And then the Blues took some penalties. They were down two men in the box and my stomach was in knots. You know how they say animals can sense storms, well I’ve watched enough sports that I sometimes feel I can tell when the doom is coming. I texted a buddy the simple phrase “I’m having regrets.”
Moments later, before he even had a chance to respond, Boston scored. They scored again in the third on the softest goal I’ve ever seen live. With under eight minutes to go, the Blues were down 3-0. It was a nightmare, but only the kind of meaningless nightmare that doesn’t really matter in the big picture.
As the clock wound down and the Bruins were gearing up to celebrate a 5-1 victory, I was as close to miserable as could be. Just a slouching, swearing, sullen shell of a person. The only words I spoke as I left the rink are unprintable.
All my life I had dreamed of being in the rink for a Stanley Cup game, but I guess my dreams weren’t specific enough. It turns out it’s super not fun if the team you want to win loses and loses badly.
Still the season isn’t over. Game 7, the most terrifying event in sports, is Wednesday night. I’ll be at home, where I had been the previous games.
Maybe the Blues can pull this out. Maybe, just maybe, this nightmare can have a happy ending.