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How the St. Louis Blues came up with the idea to wear beach clothes to the coldest NHL outdoor game in history

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

Minus-6 degrees is no day at the beach, but you wouldn't know that from seeing the St. Louis Blues strut into Target Field in Minneapolis ahead of the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic on Saturday.

Rather than wearing the standard gameday attire of suits, the entire team opted for Hawaiian shirts or T-shirts (or sometimes not even that), short shorts and flip-flops.

"We knew it was a bold move," said Jordan Binnington. "I think it was something we just figured, when you're 50 years old and looking back, are you going to want to see you getting off the bus in a suit or something funny like (beachwear)?"

The decision grabbed the attention of the entire sports world ahead of the NHL's biggest regular-season game of the year. Video of the players leaving the hotel to board the bus for Target Field has become one of the biggest - if not the biggest - viral moments in hockey social media this season.

So whose idea was it?

Well that depends on who you ask.

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: This weather's a beach. #stlblues #WinterClassic

Some players say they don't remember who first suggested beachwear. Others have pointed towards Binnington, Ryan O'Reilly, Pavel Buchnevich or Vladimir Tarasenko as the person responsible for the idea. Regardless, they all have clear recollections on how the plan originally came together - players casually discussed ideas amongst themselves in the team's locker room, then pitched some of the best of those in the club's group text chain.

Leading ideas included beachwear (obviously), dressing up like lumberjacks, or simply wearing tracker hats with typical gameday suits.

"I actually ordered 30 lumberjack shirts two days prior to leaving," Binnington said. "And then we got to the rink the next day and said 'Yeah, we don't know if (lumberjacks) is it' - so we went back on it. If anyone needs a lumberjack shirt, I got a couple larges and XLs."

The team took a final vote in the locker room at Centene Community Ice Center the day they traveled to Minneapolis. Several sources indicate that Buchnevich lobbied so strongly for beachwear that several players changed their votes in his direction.

Ultimately, beachwear won.

Because of the last-minute decision, there was little to no time whatsoever for players to go shopping. With a few exceptions, a lot of what you saw the players wear came directly out of their own closets.

"A lot of guys used what they had at home from their summer laundry," said Torey Krug. "A couple guys went and bought some stuff, but for the most part we had to bring our own stuff."

"I had to go shopping at the Frontenac mall," added Buchnevich. "I had to buy for Vladi and (Ivan Barbashev) as well. To be honest, it's not easy to find beach clothes in December. You look like an idiot to walk in store and ask 'do you have Hawaiian shorts or something?' Everyone says no, not in winter, come back in summer."

Justin Faulk led the team out of the hotel on Saturday in an unbuttoned white shirt with teal watermelon shorts. Binnington was rocking some sunshades with an unbuttoned black and gold shirt, black shorts and black socks to go with rubber sandals. Brayden Schenn proudly wore a Bud Light T-shirt and an OB Clark's ball cap. And Marco Scandella strolled into Target Field carrying a cooler big that kept a giant pineapple cool.

"I got the pineapple delivered from a Target in Minneapolis along with the cooler," Scandella said. "I didn't feel like traveling with it all weekend."

It was quite a scene.

Yet somehow, the team managed to keep the secret from getting out.

"I think we kept it under wraps because we decided on it so late, to be honest," said Krug. "That was one of the benefits of making a decision so late. We caught a lot of people off guard. We did ask (General Manager Doug Armstrong) and (Head Coach Craig Berube) though. They saw it as a team-bonding experience, something that could bring us closer together as a group, and ultimately they got a chuckle as well."

David Perron opened the scoring in the first period, then the Blues piled on five goals in the second period (including a record-setting four-point effort from Jordan Kyrou) to cruise to a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild in Saturday's game, which stands as the coldest NHL outdoor game on record.

The Blues improved to 2-0 in Winter Classic appearances.

"When you show up in bathing suits for a Winter Classic, you better win the game," Krug said. "So there was added incentive there. It definitely helped us."

So there you have it - the inside scoop on how the beachwear walk-in to the Winter Classic became one of sports' biggest stories this season.

Beachwear just might be the new Gloria.

And we'd be just fine with that.

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