Dan O'Neill is the Blues' Assistant Director of Media Relations, but he has experience coaching youth hockey at the pee wee and squirt levels at Meramec, Chesterfield and Clayton High School. He is also a regular skater with the Blues Alumni at Hardee's Ice Plex in Chesterfield.
I used to tell my high school players how lucky they were to be able to put on their uniforms and have something for which to play. To dress up just like the guy sitting next to you and have something other than bragging rights on the line is a feeling most of us men's leaguers sorely miss.
For those of us that couldn't quite crack professional hockey, or any level past pee wee in my case, the greatest cup we have to lift is the one filled to the brim with Tim Hortons every morning. For the ninth to 12th graders, it could be the Founders Cup, Wickenheiser Cup or Challenge Cup depending on their high school's standing.
Up until a few days ago, the Missouri Hockey Youth Division - State Championship tournament was unique only in its title. It provided a final goal, something for youth hockey players from Missouri to Illinois and even Arkansas to reach for at the end of a season. But let's be honest, once you've captured one trophy, medal or team banner, you've captured them all.
Missouri Hockey Youth Division and the Blues realized that while the tournament was an excellent way to decide the best team in each division at the end of the season, they wanted to give them a unique trophy to play for. As a part of the Blues' Hockey STL 2020 campaign, the Blues partnered with Missouri Hockey Youth Division to make the Blue Note Cup the ultimate reward for youth hockey players. The cup will serve as the source, much like Stanley's version, of competitive drive. The opportunity to lift the Blue Note Cup and parade around the ice in front of family, friends and teammates after competing in a two-week tournament will elicit a desire to succeed like the state tournament has never seen before.
Playing professional hockey and enjoying its many spoils won't become a reality for most. But with the advent of the Blue Note Cup, the area's youth players have the opportunity to achieve what many pros can only dream about. Now kids will have to think about an answer to that famous question, 'what would you do if you had a day with the cup.'
The Missouri Hockey State Championship tournament is a volunteer-run event involving teams from Missouri, parts of Illinois and Northwest Arkansas that make up 19 different divisions for 10 to 18 year olds with more than 3,000 youth players.
"We are excited to team-up with the Blues and Blues for Kids and look forward to working together to further improve the tournament, its visibility and stature in the hockey community," said Bill Baker, the tournament's director. "Both of our organizations are working to grow the sport of youth ice hockey and this partnership is a big step towards that goal. We thank the Blues organization for their continued efforts in building our great sport at the youth level."