ST. LOUIS - Christmas comes in September every year for Jim Schmuke.
Today is that day.
Schmuke is part of an eight-man crew installing the ice at Scottrade Center in preparation for the upcoming season, which officially begins Friday when the Blues take the ice for the first day of training camp.
“This is my favorite time of the year, especially knowing we have a good team,” said Schmuke. “This is perfect timing. The weather has gotten cooler, fall is near and so is Opening Night.”
The first preseason game at Scottrade Center is set for Sept. 25 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Opening Night is Oct. 9 vs. the New York Rangers.
The crew began work around 7 a.m. this morning by putting a thin layer of water on the playing surface. After it freezes, the crew will paint it white and then applies another thin layer of water. Next up, the Blue Note, lines, face-off circles and goalie creases will be painted in, followed by another layer of water to seal everything up.
The entire process takes about eight hours.
Schmuke began working on the Blues’ maintenance crew at the St. Louis Arena back in December 1979. He started driving the Olympia in 1987 and is now entering his 35th season with the team. He was there for the Monday Night Miracle, and he has witnessed seven ownership changes and 15 different head coaches behind the bench.
And just like every year, Schmuke hopes that the ice he's installing today is the surface upon which a Stanley Cup championship will be won.
“I can’t even imagine what it will be like when the Blues win it all,” Schmuke said. “I’ll be right there with all the loyal fans celebrating.