Yan Stastny has no problem finding his way around a Blues locker room, even though Saturday night marked the first time he’d ever played a regular season game wearing a Blues sweater.
The room, much like the one at the old St. Louis Arena, is familiar territory for Stastny. As a kid, he and his brother Paul would keep themselves entertained by running around, playing hockey there on the floor while Blues players and reporters tried to navigate around them after a game.
Forward Yan Stastny scored a goal off the faceoff in his first game with the Blues, who he grew up watching as a child.
For two years, this was the routine as the Stastny boys waited for their father, Peter, to take them home after a game. Peter Stastny, whose NHL career spanned 15 years and 1,239 points, played the last two seasons of his career in St. Louis before retiring in 1995.
"(St.Louis) is a city I grew up in. I went to grade school all the way through my senior year in high school here," Yan said. "We set up roots here and it's home. Not too many people can play for their hometown team.”
Yan, who attended Chaminade and Parkway Central High School while growing up in St. Louis, took the long, winding scenic route to his debut with the Blues. After playing youth hockey in the area, he left to play two seasons at the University of Notre Dame before being drafted by the Boston Bruins (8th round, 259th overall) in 2002. He made his NHL debut in 2006 and played three games with the Edmonton Oilers before being traded back to Boston just eight days later for Sergei Samsonov.
He played 38 games with the Bruins before being sent to Providence, their AHL affiliate. While there, he was traded to the Blues in January 2007 for a fifth round choice in last summer’s draft.
Even with 41 NHL games on his resume, it's unlikely Yan could have been more excited than he was for Saturday night's matchup with Nashville.
“It’s exciting and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to all year,” Yan said. “I’m just looking to have fun tonight and make the most of my opportunity.”
Yan's first appearance for the Blues marked just the second time in history that a father and son have both worn Blues jerseys. The first was Bob and Brent Johnson.
We set up roots here and it's home. Not too many people can play for their hometown team. - Yan Stastny
To top off the occasion, Yan scored the first goal of the game for the Blues, his first in a Blues uniform and second in the NHL at 15:40 of the first period. WATCH
"Talk about a special story, to put a Blues jersey on in his hometown, it's like a French-canadian getting a chance to play in Montreal," said Blues head coach Andy Murray. "It should be that kind of significance for everyone around here for everybody to see one of your own get a chance to play in a Blues jersey."
Yan's younger brother, Paul, has had a much quicker road to the NHL. After two seasons at the University of Denver, he was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche and is among the league’s most prolific young scorers, recording 127 points in 128 NHL games.
With two sons in the NHL, it appears the Stastnys may be a textbook case of "like father, like son." Peter’s wisdom has certainly rubbed off on the boys.
“It was something that every chance my dad had to comment or critique our game, he always gave constructive criticism,” Yan said. “He was very hands-on in the way we developed as hockey players.”
Having learned from one of the best, it’s possible both Paul and Yan will have long, fruitful careers in the NHL.
But that's still a little bit down the road. For now, Yan is just thrilled he's lived his dream.