TORONTO — It was a history-making 2018-19 hockey season for the Blues. And they’re still making history.
The reigning Stanley Cup champions stayed in Toronto following their 3-2 victory over the Maple Leafs for a ring ceremony Tuesday at the Hockey Hall of Fame. And they did so in style.
Lanny McDonald, chairman of the board for the Hall of Fame, said the Hall had never had an entire team present for a ring ceremony. Or the team’s owner. But that’s what happened Tuesday afternoon when the Blues’ presented one of their diamond-studded championship rings for display to the Hall of Fame.
“That shows that this is not an individual sport. This is all about a team,” McDonald said. “It wouldn’t have been as much fun today if you wouldn’t have scored the goal last night to win. To any Toronto Maple Leaf fans out there, I apologize, but this is St. Louis’ day.”
Then again, every day seems like St. Louis’ day lately for the Blues. There was the parade in June, the party weekend in Las Vegas. The NHL Awards show. The Blues were honored at the ESPYs. An endless series of Cup days for players, coaches and staff.
The team dinner in St. Louis to receive their championship rings. The banner-raising ceremonies at the season opener a week ago at Enterprise Center.
“And now we have another solemn, humbling event presenting our ring to the Hall of Fame,” team chairman Tom Stillman said.
Blues senior advisor Al MacInnis and Blues senior consultant Larry Robinson — both members of the Hall of Fame — made the formal presentation on behalf of the team.
It’s a fairly recent tradition, begun when the Anaheim Ducks presented a ring to the Hall of Fame after their championship season of 2006-07. Other Cup winners before 2006-07 since have added to the collection retroactively.
“Coming here and seeing everything and presenting the ring and seeing Lanny McDonald, it’s awesome,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I know Lanny pretty well from the Calgary days. So it’s a great day.”
The ceremony took place in a small theater/auditorium that seated perhaps 200 people. Yes, jersey-wearing Blues fans found their way from St. Louis to Toronto for the ceremony. Blues fans such as Paul and Sherri Turnbull of Wentzville, season-ticket holders since 1988.
As part of the couple’s 30th wedding anniversary trip, they are taking in Blues’ games in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal this week. They were touring the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday morning when they learned of the ceremony.
“This was just phenomenal,” Sherri said. “There are no words to describe it.”
The entire Blues roster stood along the back of the stage during the ceremony. On one side of the stage was a large glass display case containing rings from past Stanley Cup champions.
Veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester didn’t even know there was such a thing as a ring ceremony for the Stanley Cup champions until this trip.
“Your goal as a player is to win, and then there’s lots of things that come with it that are nice — I guess mementos and things to remember it by,” Bouwmeester said. “I’ve got kids now, so down the line this is a place they can always come back to.”
Tuesday was a scheduled off day for the team, with no practice. So many Blues players have Toronto roots or connections, it could have meant a full day to visit family and friends. Instead it turned out to be a half day, given the ring ceremony and an earlier tour of the Hockey Hall of Fame archives at a separate location in Toronto. But no one seemed to be complaining.
“All the guys enjoyed it coming here today,” Berube said. “It’s a special day.”
“You gotta enjoy it,” Bouwmeester said. “It might only happen once.”
Elsewhere in the Hall of Fame, there is a display case commemorating the Blues’ championship 2018-19 season, complete with all kinds of trinkets and “mementos,” including a 45 record of — you guessed it — “Gloria,” the team victory song.
Stillman said Binnington donated to the Hall of Fame the uniform “underwear” he wore last season, which actually are Providence Bruins undies, complete with team logo, as holdovers from Binnington’s days with Boston Bruins’ affiliate in the American Hockey League. The undies were not in the display case.
General manager Armstrong took a selfie Tuesday in front of that display case and also took one in front of his father's Hall of Fame plaque. Neil Armstrong, now 86 and battling Parkinson’s disease, was inducted into the Hall in 1991 for his work as an NHL linesman in a career spanning 22 seasons and 1,744 games.
“It was really meaningful to myself,” Armstrong said. “As you have children and they grow you understand all the sacrifices that your parents made for you. I respect that obviously more being through it with my own kids now.
“And being able to share the Stanley Cup with him. We did it 20 years ago.” (When Doug Armstrong was with the Dallas Stars). “To do it again, just to share a lot of the things that I’ve experienced over the last 20 years, has been really special. He gets a big smile out of it and those are few and far between sometimes, so it was great to be part of.”
Before arriving for the Blues’ game Monday night at Scotiabank Arena, Armstrong visited his father in Sarnia, Ontario, and showed him the team’s Stanley Cup ring. The same kind of ring that now has a home in the Hockey Hall of Fame.