ST. LOUIS - Ask Garry Unger what it meant to wear the captain’s ‘C’ for the Blues, and he’ll stop you before you can even finish the question.
“It was just an honor to be able to play the game at all,” Unger said Saturday at Scottrade Center. “There are millions of kids who would have liked to play one game here. I had the opportunity to play with some wonderful players, some wonderful people and the majority of these guys were in St. Louis. We became lifetime friends, both on and off the ice.”
This weekend, Unger and 10 other Blues captains (David Backes included) are rekindling those friendships as the Blues host Captains Night at Scottrade Center for tonight’s meeting against the Dallas Stars (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX).
Unger, Frank St. Marseille, Bob Plager, Barry Gibbs, Bernie Federko, Rick Meagher, Garth Butcher, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis and Eric Brewer… all will be in attendance for tonight’s game.
“To put a face to names that aren’t 80’s-flowing mustaches or 70’s-flowing mustaches, it’s just awesome,” Backes said of meeting many of the former captains last night at the Captains Dinner at Peabody Opera House. “To have them all together for a Captains Night, it’s a pretty cool event. There will be butterflies (to play in front of them), but hopefully we perform well and do them all proud.”
Fans are encouraged to be in their seats early for tonight’s game, which will feature a special pregame ceremony to honor the captains. Tonight is the first of three Heritage Nights this season, with Goalies Night (Jan. 16) and Hull & Oates Night (April 1) still to come.
“It’s a pretty good list,” Blues forward Troy Brouwer said of the former Blues captains. “I’ve gotten to know a couple of them, and I’ve played against a bunch of them. It’s a lot of fun to have nights like tonight.”
The Blues can make tonight even more fun with a win against the Stars, who come to St. Louis with the League’s best record at 22-5-1, which ranks as their best 29-game start to a season in franchise history. The Stars are 5-0-2 in their last seven games and are averaging 3.50 goals per game, the best offensive mark in the League over the last five years.
“We’ve got our work cutout for us. We want to be the best team in the League, so we’re going to have to beat teams like Dallas,” Backes said. “It’s a great challenge tonight, but we’re going to get to our game. They’re going to scare us into playing the right way and we’ve got to put our boots on the ground, hike ‘em up and get to work and stick together to get the job done.”
“We know how to play them,” added Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. “We’ve had good success doing the things we need to do against them, and it’s just putting that game out there. We have a game we play that’s not fun to play against. That’s the game that we need to get out there. If we do that, it’s going to be a heck of a hockey game.
“I think our guys are ready for this.”
Magnus Paajarvi - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko
Alexander Steen - David Backes - Troy Brouwer
Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Petteri Lindbohm - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
Jake Allen, who was wearing a new mask during the morning skate today, will start tonight against the Stars. He has played three career games against Dallas, recording a 1-1-0 record with a 1.76 goals-against average and a .926 save-percentage.
Alex Pietrangelo has scored 17 points against the Stars, which is tied for the most for a defenseman along with Chicago’s Duncan Keith.
Vladimir Tarasenko has nine points, including six goals, in nine career games vs. Dallas.
Dmitrij Jaskin will play in his 100th NHL game.
The first 15,000 fans at tonight’s game will receive a commemorative captains canvas.