Bryan Harris talks about buying Stanley Cup merchandise day after Blues beat the Bruins
Fans celebrated Thursday around the metro-east after the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins to win their first Stanley Cup championship in their 52-year-history. While Game 7 was in Boston, tens of thousands of fans gathered at the Enterprise Center, Busch Stadium, Ballpark Village and countless bars to watch their team make history.
Blues merchandise ‘flying out the door’
Inside Dick’s Sporting Goods in Fairview Heights, long lines formed from fans seeking Stanley Cup Championship shirts and memorabilia.
One associate said Blues merchandise has been “flying out the door.”
Bryan Harris, his daughter, Abbi, and his son, Eli, said they had to go to five stores to find a championship shirt that fit. “It’s going fast, there’s a lot of stuff there but it’s all going quick,” Harris said. “It’s pretty crazy.”
The Harris family had Y-98 on the radio as they sat in their car outside the store. As it’s done several times throughout the playoffs after a series win, the station planned to play Laura Brannigan’s “Gloria,” which has become the Blues victory theme, straight for the next 24 hours.
Paul Russo, the manager of Pro Image Sports at St. Clair Square, said the store has had a busier than normal Thursday after the Blues’ Stanley Cup Championship win.
“We had a line of people waiting for me to arrive with the different boxes I had and then there was pandemonium,” he said.
He added that typically Thursdays are slow, but during this Stanley Cup run and especially after the win, that hasn’t been the case.
Fan does a victory coin toss into the river
Jacob Benscoter, who became a Blues fan when moved to the area in 1991, said the end of the Blues’ 52-year championship drought made him “very happy.”
To celebrate, Benscoter, of Belleville, said he stopped and threw a coin into the Mississippi River, a ritual he calls his “lucky coin toss” that he performs after every Blues victory.
“They earned it, and we should be proud of them.,” he said.
Interest is up, business is up
At Hotshots Sports Bar and Grill in O’Fallon, the lunch crowd was a little lighter, allowing the establishment to recover from a busy Wednesday night.
About 250 were inside of Hot Shots, which has seen its business go up by about 45 percent this month, said Nate Lindquist, the general manager.
“With every round (of the hockey playoffs), it just got busier and busier and busier. Especially the weekend games, pretty much every night of the playoffs,” Lindquist said. “The crowd has been intense, screaming at the TVs, having a good old time.”
Now he hopes for more sports success.
“Hopefully the Cardinals do it again, then we’ll be doing the same thing in (the fall),” Lindquist said.
But there could be more business in the near future, with U.S. Women’s National Team playing in the World Cup.
“It will be interesting this year, just because the women’s team is so good,” Lindquist said.
Signs of the Blues
The Let’s Go Blues signs around the area may continue to fly for few more days as the jjubilation continues.
In Swansea, Let’s Go Blues flags flew from businesses around town along Illinois 159.
The electronic billboard for Amazing Smiles Orthodontics has rotating image that says “Our favorite patient is Stanley!” next to an image of the Stanley Cup.
Walking around St. Clair Square, people wore Blues gear, and “Gloria” played inside of Sanibel Sunglasses Company.
Youth hockey growing
Scott Black, director of sales and marketing at the McKendree Metro Rec Plex, said interest in youth hockey has been higher than usual during the Blues Stanley Cup run. He said hockey at the Rec Plex typically isn’t as active during the summer months.
“There definitely is some focus on hockey right now, which is unusual because the hockey seasons here is typically from September through February or early March,” he said. “But you don’t usually have the Blues playing through the middle of June.”
Black said the Rec Plex is currently in the process of beefing up its ice rink, having just recently added a new manager. He said that is helping with the influx of new players coming in due to the Blues-mania in the region.
Stanley Cup Game 7 crushes ratings on TV
For those who stayed home and watched on TV, the St. Louis Blues’ first-ever Stanley Cup title drew a big audience for NBC Wednesday — bigger than any NHL game of the past 25 years.
The Blues’ 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals delivered a 6.2 household rating in metered markets, the highest such number for an NHL game since 1994, according to Hollywoodreporter.com. That’s 8 percent higher than the last time the Stanley Cup Finals went to a seventh game (5.72 for Bruins-Vancouver Canucks in 2011) and 6 percent ahead of NBC’s previous best for an NHL game (5.84 for the deciding game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers in 2010).
Return to the Belleville News-Democrat later for more celebrations.