“Dad, did you see the Blues game last night? That was incredible!”
The father was surprised to see his son in such a good mood as he got into the car to go to school. Normally, the teenager would drive himself but that wasn’t possible on this day.
You know how things can go when you combine a late night, early morning and disruption in routine?
And then there’s how I thought he’d be feeling.
“Yeah, that was some game,” I replied. “I heard you watching it in your room.”
“It’s so cool that a guy who grew up here scored the winning goal. His son was crying in the seats, too. I’d be too embarrassed to do that if you scored a goal like that, Dad.”
I tried to answer but I got cut off. I was used to it. Best just let him go.
“Dad, my friends and I were snapping after the game…”
I lost the next part of what he said while I thought of just how late he was probably up – oh, and that he meant Snapchat.
It’s hard for us parents to keep up with the phone apps, and just when we catch up they move on to another. Teenagers need their own domains; personal space, I suppose. But he continued.
“…and we all think it’s the greatest goal in Blues history!”
You’d have to have flown in from the other side of the world to not know the story. Patrick Maroon. Hometown kid. Rough season. Getting to be around his son and playing for the team he grew up rooting for. Number Seven scoring a series-ending goal in double overtime of Game Seven in St. Louis on May 7.
“Wait,” I said. “What do you have to compare it to?”
“What about Troy Brouwer’s goal to beat the Blackhawks a couple of years ago? I mean, we beat the Blackhawks, and I remember you telling me what a big deal it was.”
I told him it was a big deal. Anytime you beat the Blackhawks in the playoffs it’s a big deal. I was going to tell him about Craig Janney’s overtime goal to complete a sweep in 1993 – when Chicago was a top seed and the Blues just got into the playoffs. Boy, was that something – goalie Ed Belfour was so mad he turned his stick into kindling smashing it on the goal post. The old Arena nearly came off its foundation that day.
“Dad? Dad. Dad!”
“What? Oh. Sorry. What were you saying?”
Here came a little teenage impatience.
“I was asking you about the best goal you ever saw.”
I enjoyed this. My son was a sports fan because of me – he had no choice, really, but it was cool that he found a love for sports on his own. Our talks have been less and less frequent these days, so I was glad traffic was heavy, as usual, and we’d have more time together.
“Well, your grandfather always talked about Ron Schock’s goal – that put the Blues into their first Stanley Cup final –”
“The Blues made it to the Stanley Cup finals??”
“Yeah, believe it or not, they made it the first three years they were a team. And they haven’t been back.”
“Man, I’d like to see that happen.”
“There have been a lot of great goals in Blues history. Let’s see, Kevin O’Shea in 1972. Oh – Mike Crombeen in 1981. Let me tell you, the Blues had one of the best records in the league that year and they wound up in overtime against Pittsburgh, who wasn’t very good. Their goalie was great - he wound up playing for the Blues ---”
“Dad, a lot of guys wind up playing for the Blues.”
“Good point. But anyway, Crombeen hadn’t played much in that game but the coach had a hunch and sent him out in double overtime and he scored. But then the Blues lost the next round.”
I came up for air. Traffic was moving but he still seemed interested. I took my cue of silence and kept going.
“Then there was Pierre Turgeon in 1999.”
“The Blues had a French guy?”
“French-Canadian. There used to be a lot more of them in the league, but anyway, the Blues were playing Game Seven with the Phoenix Coyotes. There’s no score and it goes to overtime…”
“Arizona Coyotes, Dad.”
“Phoenix Coyotes then, pal. Don’t get me started.”
“You’ve already started, Dad.”
“Yeah, but I haven’t even got to the Monday Night Miracle. The best game I remember.”
I think I hooked him.
“Tell me about that.”
“Well, I was a couple of years out of college, and it was a Game Six at the Arena – “
“The old building the Blues played their games in. Anyway, they had to win to stay alive. They were not a great team and probably didn’t belong there in the conference finals against Calgary. But you would have loved their coach, son. He was really a players’ guy.”
“Like Craig Berube is now?”
“Yeah, but in a different way.”
I could have gone more into Jacques Demers, but we were getting closer to school.
“Anyway, the Blues were down, 5-2 in the third period. I was listening to it on the radio because we didn’t have cable and – “
“Well, couldn’t you have streamed it?”
Boy, I wish I was driving him to college so we had more time.
Wait – no, I don’t. Not yet, anyway.
“So, things look pretty bad. But then they get a goal. Still, not a lot of time left, but then they get another. They’re only down by one and the crowd is really getting into it. It’s loud, time’s running out, it’s desperation time…”
He was locked in listening to me. I was soaking it in.
“And Greg Paslawski scored this amazing goal to tie the game. The place was up for grabs, and I think I woke up the house yelling, “Yesss!”
“Well, what happened then?”
“So they’re in overtime and a Calgary player – another guy who used to play for the Blues – hit the goalpost on a long shot. The goalie had no chance if it hadn’t hit the post. But then the Blues came down the other way a couple of minutes later and a guy named Doug Wickenheiser scored. The noise was so loud, and friends that were there said the cheering went on for a half hour after the goal was scored. People still talk about that game.”
“That sounds pretty cool, Dad. I think Pat Maroon’s goal is the best of all time. I remember David Freese’s game against the Rangers, but I was too young and didn’t know about it until the next morning. But Maroon – I saw that one. If he doesn’t score that goal, we probably lose. But now we’re in the Final Four and there will be a parade when they win the Cup.”
As I sat there, I thought that maybe each new generation has their own best moment. It’s what they live through and cling to as their own – what they saw.
I started to say that since I had seen more games than he had that I would still say the Monday Night Miracle was the greatest; even though Maroon’s goal advanced the Blues into the next round, while Wickenheiser’s goal only kept them alive for a Game Seven in Calgary that they lost. I remember how unlikely a win that game was, how close they’d been to moving out of town just a few years before that, the comeback that got them to that point, and the jubilation when we won.
But there is something to be said for the freshness of a new great moment. One that’s all his.
And then I responded.
“Sounds good to me.”
I snapped out of my vision of Wickenheiser throwing his arm up into the air, the fans jumping up and down, and how that game grabbed everyone’s attention in town. Like Maroon did.
“I'll see you later. School started a half hour ago.”