Among those in attendance for the "Salute to No. 7" ceremony before the Blues' game Monday was former defenseman Noel Picard. Picard is most famously pictured tripping Bobby Orr as the Boston star scored the series-clinching goal in Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup finals. Picard, who lives in Montreal, said he is reminded often.
"I get asked about that a lot,'' he said, with a laugh. "People send me cards and pictures in Montreal and I sign them all the time."
Picard said he goes to games "maybe five or six times a year." But he said he often turns off the TV when he is watching a game at home because, "I clinch my teeth and I get too mad," he said. "I get mad with the effort they put in, no pride or nothing. They never work together. You can't win games if you play like an individual. You have to play together."
Picard, whose son Dan lives in New Baden, Ill., said he normally gets to St. Louis once or twice a year. But he recently has had problems with his right hip, had surgery on it and developed a staph infection that has required additional surgery.
He is still getting treatment but added, "I'm doing good. I'm satisfied." That said, Picard, 72, is hobbling quite a bit with his ailing hip and, of course, that provided irresistible fodder for another former Blue, Bernie Federko, to get in a dig.
"This is about how fast he moved on the ice,'' Federko said, laughing while walking alongside Picard - who retorted, "That's all right, my friend, I'll be here for a few days,'' suggesting there is plenty of time to return the needle.
Picard was a part of the 1965 Stanley Cup champions in Montreal before he was claimed by the Blues in the 1967 NHL expansion draft. Picard, whose brother Roger played briefly with the Blues, was best known for his physical play and toughness, but he also had five goals and 19 assists in 67 games for the 1968-69 team. He played five full seasons in St. Louis before he was claimed off waivers in 1972 by the Atlanta Flames, and he finished his final season there.
Picard was born on Christmas Day, hence the name "Noel,'' which is actually his middle name. His first name is Jean. He was a righthanded shot, but he pointed out he often had an advantage when he got into a fight. "I was a lefthander,'' he said, adding with a wink, "A lot of players didn't know that, and the ones who did would forget."
Unger in the room
Garry Unger came into the Blues' dressing room Monday and talked to the team about what it meant for him to wear the Note through his nine seasons in St. Louis. Alex Steen is among the present players who especially appreciate seeing the stars of the past. Steen's father, Tomas Steen, had his jersey retired in Winnipeg and was a teammate of former Blue Keith Tkachuk when Tkachuk (one of the No. 7 honorees Monday) played there.
Alex said seeing the former legends makes wearing the jersey all the more special.
"I really like these nights,'' Steen said. "It's nice for the Blues' organization to show that appreciation. Not just to (Noel Picard) but to the other guys. It's a sacrifice on the body that these guys have done for the organization, for us players that ... have come in after them. I think it's very important to acknowledge that, appreciate it and make sure they know that.''
Somewhat fittingly, Steen scored the shootout goal that was the difference in the Blues' 5-4 victory over Columbus.
With B.J. Crombeen out because of an upper-body injury, the Blues promoted forward T.J. Hensick before the game. In two previous stints with the Blues, Hensick had played five games and collected one assist. He has been a prominent figure in Peoria, where he leads the team in scoring. He has 61 points in 52 games. Coincidentally, Hensick starred in college at Michigan, where Red Berenson was his coach. Berenson was in the house Monday as one of those being honored for wearing No. 7.