St. Louis Blues

August 25, 2014

Blues fans greet newcomer Stastny, new jerseys

After watching 4,000 fans cram their way into Ballpark Village on Monday for the St. Louis Blues' "Icebreaker" event, owner Tom Stillman was visibly emotional.

And it wasn't just seeing the franchise's new jerseys unveiled or watching new Blues center Paul Stastny soak in a standing ovation.

"It's such a step forward that I honestly got a little choked up at one point," admitted Stillman, overjoyed with the Blues-based excitement on a steamy August evening three weeks removed from the start of training camp.

"It's a sweltering day in August and we had standing-room only at Ballpark Village tonight. The enthusiasm and the energy of the Blues fans in this building just couldn't have been higher."

Stastny considered many things before signing a four-year, $28 million contract with the Blues and leaving Colorado behind to return to his hometown of St. Louis. But he believes this club has a realistic chance at immediate success.

"In the end you just want to win," Stastny said. "You want to be comfortable in an area that you know. What better area than to go back home -- and for me it's about winning. Really that's what you're looking at, the best chance to win with a good group of guys. I think that's what we have here."

The new classic-looking Blues jerseys weren't a major change from what the team had before, but still offered the first change to the primary jersey design since 2007.

They feature additional yellow and white stripes and are similar to some worn by the club in the 1970s, with additional horizontal stripes added to the bottom.

"I think they look good," said Blues winger T.J. Oshie, who got a sneak peek at the new uniforms last week with defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. "Me and Petro put them on with full gear the other day and the socks are really cool. With the socks they look really sharp. I was hoping they were going to go back to the baby blue ones, but they look good. They look really good when you're in full gear."

Oshie was among the Blues players who took the stage to loud applause while modeling the new jerseys. Also there were captain David Backes, Pietrangelo, defenseman Barret Jackman and Stastny.

Blues fans also were treated to several video presentations as well as live music from the band of Blues national anthem singer Charles Glenn.

"I thought the fire marshall was on break," joked Backes. "It was hot in here; I don't know if we could have squeezed many more people in there. It was great to see the turnout with the weather and how hot it was in that building, you could tell what passion the fans have."

Backes said the current Blues players are proud to wear the same classic "Blue Note" logo worn by so many that have come before them. Two original Blues from the inaugural 1967-68 squad --Bob Plager and Jimmy Roberts -- were introduced on stage Monday.

"I think the (logo) crest, especially the history of the St. Louis Blues, means so much to every guy that's ever worn it," Backes said. "It's the honor of trying to do proud the guys that have played here before us and gave us this opportunity. It's been here since '67, do the math. That's' 47 going on 48 years of people yearning and desiring for that big silver trophy.

"That's a realistic expectation and now we've got to go out there and do the work and win games."

Also drawing a huge ovation was the most popular player in club history, Brett Hull.

The smiling Hull carried one of his vintage jerseys to the stage, then signed it for a longtime season ticket holder who won it in a contest.

When Oshie was announced, he was greeted with loud "U-S-A, U-S-A" chants celebrating his shootout performance for Team USA at the Winter Olympics.

"I think I had it a couple games last year, but I got chills big time there when the crowd started chanting 'U-S-A,''' Oshie said. "Seeing every little video, you kind of get chills thinking about the season, thinking about the things that we could be capable of doing this year."

Other than Hull and Oshie, the loudest ovation was probably the one for Stastny. He joined the Blues as a free agent earlier this summer, returning to his hometown team that previously included both his father, Peter Stastny and brother, Yan Stastny.

"He's one of the smartest hockey players you're ever going to find," Backes said of Paul Stastny. "He's got some great hands and ability to make plays to go with that. He's done it to us many times where he's taken over a game and taken two points right from us.

"Now we're going to have that on our side."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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