KANSAS CITY - Sitting at the gate at the airport after two busy days in Kansas City, Blues defenseman Colton Parayko was catching up on his text messages when a man politely interrupted him with a question.
"Hey," he said. "Has anybody told you that you look like Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues?"
"Yeah, maybe once or twice," he answered.
"Well you couldn't be him," the man said. "Colton is probably a few inches taller and definitely a lot stronger."
That made Parayko laugh out loud.
After a few seconds, the man stood up and introduced himself with a handshake. As it turns out, he was a Blues fan headed home to St. Louis after spending a few days in Kansas City on business.
That short exchange - one where Parayko was recognized in an airport all the way across the state - was pretty much how things went for Parayko during his two-day visit to Kansas City to promote the Blues' upcoming preseason matchup with the Minnesota Wild on Sept. 28 at Sprint Center.
Yes, the Blues defenseman, and Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie Federko, are quite popular on the West side of Missouri.
The trip started with a visit to James Bridger Middle School, where Parayko, Federko and Louie visited with sixth-graders participating in the Future Goals program. Future Goals is a joint effort between the NHL and NHLPA to help students learn math and science concepts using hockey.
Next, it was on to KU Hospital to visit with hospitalized children before a chalk talk and skate-around with youth hockey players and their families at KC Ice Center in Shawnee Mission, KS.
The next day, Parayko and Federko visited two radio stations for morning interviews on 610 Sports Radio and New Country Q104. After that, it was off to Faxon Elementary School, where Ms. Brandt's entire first-grade class was surprised with tickets to the Blues' preseason game during their story-time hour.
Before wrapping up the trip, Parayko and Federko visited families staying at Ronald McDonald House while their children underwent treatment at Children's Mercy Hospital.
Of course, no trip to Kansas City would be complete without barbecue, so they made time to stop at Char Bar before heading to the airport to return home.
"We met a lot of Blues fans in Kansas City, and the youth hockey community here is really growing," Parayko said. "We had a great time visiting with everyone and I can't wait to return here to play a game for these great fans later this month."
Tickets start as low as $15 for the Blues vs. Wild preseason game on Sept. 28 at Sprint Center. Tickets are available now at the Sprint Center Box Office or online at sprintcenter.com.