The Agony and Ecstasy of a Die-Hard Blues Fan
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because hope and hockey spring eternal.
By Ryan Tiemeyer
Hockey’s always been a big part of my life. My love affair with it started in third grade, participating in leagues and even playing street hockey with friends in our neighborhood. Growing up in St. Charles, Missouri, I’ve been a St. Louis Blues fan pretty much my entire life. Ever since I can remember, my parents had the Blues games on TV. Playoff games were always on pay-per-view, and I remember going to friends’ houses with my parents and watching every game we could. It was nonstop Blues hockey in our household.
My first autographed memorabilia was a Brett Hull card from my aunt and uncle when I broke my elbow in a hockey tournament in third grade. My love of sports memorabilia (mainly Blues and Cardinals) has escalated to a whole room full of autographed pictures, autographed pucks, bobbleheads and cards. I try to go to all the games that have bobbleheads, and I try to go to as many of the autograph signings as I can at the memorabilia shops around town. I’m very passionate about my team.
My first game was at the old Blues arena. It was the Blues versus the Kings — growing up you always heard about Wayne Gretzky this and Wayne Gretzky that, and he scored a hat trick. I remember coming away from that game in awe. I was a die-hard Blues fan, but you always remember Gretzky. I was a defenseman, and I loved players like Al MacInnis; he represented what it meant to be a Blues player to me. Hull was also great. No one could score goals like him, and he’s an all-time player. I loved to watch them play back in the ’90s.
You love them for their ability to do well in the regular season but hate their performance in the playoffs.
I kind of miss the rough aspect to the games, though. When I played in high school I was known for the big hits. We couldn’t fight in high school, but I always got chills when players like Tony Twist would get in an all-out brawl. This town still loves him for all the fighting he did for the Blues. I always wanted to be that player who could hit hard. I wanted to be that Tony Twist type of player and not the Brett Hull. I loved hitting people on the ice. I don’t know how I did it, but I rarely got knocked down. My senior year of high school I went to the emergency room twice in two days to get stitches in my chin from hitting people so hard.
In the NHL, fans remember the enforcers more than the second-, third- or fourth-line players. It was a huge part of hockey, and I’d say 90 percent of the fans today still get excited when there’s a fight on the ice. Without an enforcer on the ice, opponents can rough up the star players. Twist didn’t score a lot of goals, but if anyone did something nasty to anyone on the team, he would make sure they paid for it with his fists. You’ve got to have that player on your team that the other team is scared of. Ryan Reaves is that guy now, and luckily he has more skill than just fighting.
There are many times that my wife, Leslie, a teacher, will email me saying she wants to go to the game that night. She hears her students talking about how they’re going to the game, and she gets jealous. Last year she emailed me on the day of Game 7, Blackhawks–Blues, first round of the playoffs. The subject line was “Best wife ever?” and the email said, “I just got us tickets for the game tonight!” We both love hockey so much and love to go to as many games as we can. We have a brick outside the arena inscribed “We Bleed Blue! — The Tiemeyers — Est. 12-11-15,” and before every game we go tap on it with our feet. Leslie and I also had Louie, the Blues mascot, at our wedding.
One of our first dates was a Blues game. We ended up going with my sister and her boyfriend (now brother-in-law), and they pretty much did the 100 questions routine with Leslie since it was their first time meeting her. I’m surprised that Leslie stayed with me after that. Leslie even has a Blues Wall in her room at school. That’s how big of a fan she is! We will definitely be passing our love of the game on to our baby. We have clothes and toys that are Blues- and hockey-related, so it will begin once he or she is born. Having a wife who is knowledgeable and passionate about the Blues is a lot of fun. We talk hockey and watch as many games as we can.
I can’t imagine life without hockey. It’s always been a part of my life. I named my dog Easton after my hockey stick. I’m just hoping that we can get to the Stanley Cup finals and win one in the next couple of years. It’s been a love/hate relationship with the Blues. You love them for their ability to do well in the regular season but hate their performance in the playoffs. Last year was a step in the right direction, but the off-season moves this year were not the greatest. It’s tough to see all these former players and coaches have so much success after they leave the team. It’s so heartbreaking seeing the team we could have had.
Vladimir Tarasenko is the most exciting player now. The goals he scores are phenomenal. He’s the best goal scorer we’ve had since Hull. But Alex Pietrangelo is my favorite on the team, because he’s a defenseman like I was. I think the Blues will beat Minnesota this year in the first round, but it’s going to be tough to beat the Blackhawks in the second round. We have a good team. We just need to get it all together and win. I will always support the Blues. The heartbreak of never winning a Stanley Cup haunts me, but I’m a die-hard fan. I love hockey, I love St. Louis and I love the Blues.
- Ryan Tiemeyer, OZY Author Contact Ryan Tiemeyer