ST. LOUIS - Michelle Warnig has been a Blues fan for as long as she can remember but she never managed to meet her favorite player until Sunday.
Warnig stood in a long line of people at the Ice Zone at St. Louis Mills, anxious waiting to meet Blues defenseman Barret Jackman
during the team’s annual Rink Tour event. Several years ago, she purchased Jackman’s game-worn jersey from the NHL Premiere games vs. Detroit in Sweden, paying nearly $1,000 to outbid everyone else in the auction.
“I kept outbidding everybody. There was no way anybody was going to get that sweater but me,” she said.
For Warnig, finally meeting Jackman on Sunday was icing on the cake.
“Autographs aren’t that valuable to me, but meeting them is, and getting to tell them how much I appreciate what they do,” she said. “I appreciate how tough (the game) is and how good they are and what great people they are. Rink Tours are a way for me to do that.”
Blues players visited 11 local ice rinks Sunday evening during the annual Verizon Wireless Blues Rink Tour. Throughout the afternoon, fans lined up at rinks around town to meet their favorite players and get autographs.
“It’s always great to get a chance to sit down and sign a few autographs and mingle with the fans,” Jackman said. “Every once in awhile, you get a die hard fan and you make their day.”
Several hundred turned out at nearly every rink, meaning thousands of fans left with lasting memories.
Chad Denison, a Blues Season Ticket Holder, brought his wife and twin daughters to St. Louis Mills to meet Jackman and Jason Arnott
“We come every year,” Denison said. “We try and come out to practices and come to the Rink Tours. It’s great what the Blues do...no other team does it around here.”
In addition to the Ice Zone, Blues players visited the following rinks: Affton, East Alton, Fenton, FSI Shark Tank, Granite City, Hardee’s IcePlex, Hockey Performance Center, St. Peters Rec-Plex, U.S. Ice Sports Complex and Webster Groves.
As much as Blues fans take from the event, it’s a safe bet that players take away just as many memories.
“We’re trying to do our best out there (on the ice), and (our fans) appreciate every moment of it. They come and cheer win or lose. It’s like our sixth man on the ice,” Arnott said. “So it’s always nice to mingle with the fans and give back a little bit.
“They’re some of the best fans I’ve ever seen, so this is just our way of saying thanks.”