Chris Butler, a kid from Kirkwood who became one of the first players born and raised in St. Louis to make it in the NHL and went out as a Stanley Cup champion, announced his retirement on Wednesday.
He announced his career move in a letter published on the Blues website.
Butler played with Calgary, Buffalo and the Blues, spending the final five seasons of his 11-season career in St. Louis though he played in only 58 games with the Blues in that time. He spent the final two seasons mostly with the team's San Antonio farm team, where he was the captain. As a steady veteran presence, he played a big role there in helping youngsters adapt to the world of professional hockey and get ready to move on to the NHL.
Until being passed by Pat Maroon this season, he held the distinction of having played in more NHL games than any player born and raised in St. Louis.
Butler reflected on his career arc with the Post-Dispatch in December when he hit the 400-game mark, a few days ahead of Maroon.
"Growing up, I never thought I’d get one game, so to have some longevity in this game and be able to stick around for a while (is nice)," he said.
Butler played 13 games with the Blues this season and he did well in those opportunities. The team called him up at the end of the season and, after sending most of the minor-leaguers home after the second round, kept Butler around to work with the team. After the team won the Stanley Cup, he was able to be on the ice, in uniform, taking part in the celebration.
Butler, whose father played hockey at SLU and whose mother played field hockey there, broke in with Buffalo in 2008 and played three seasons there. He then moved on to Calgary in 2011 for three seasons, playing in all 82 games in his final season there, 2013-14.
He then signed as a free agent with the Blues and was their seventh defenseman in 2014-15. But the speedy ascension to the NHL of Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson bumped him out of a roster spot and sent him to the team's Chicago farm team, where he began his role as mentor.
For most of the next four seasons, he was in the minors, with either Chicago or San Antonio, never losing his drive and spirit. He got in only one NHL game in 2016-17 and it started to look like his NHL career was over, but his play this season was some of his best in the past four seasons.