St. Louis Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson, former Blue Bob Plager and Louie traveled west for two days earlier this week, both bound for Kansas City with a jam-packed itinerary to help spread awareness about the Blues’ preseason game, which will be held at Sprint Center on Oct. 5 against the Washington Capitals.
The trip included a tour of Children’s Mercy Park - the home of Major League Soccer’s Sporting KC - several TV and radio interviews, two children’s hospital visits, a youth hockey clinic and of course, some famous Kansas City barbecue.
“Kansas City is a hockey city,” Edmundson said. “They love their sports. They have the Chiefs, they have the Royals, but this city deserves a hockey team. But for now, there are a lot of Blues fans here and I’m proud they cheer for us. I can’t wait (for Oct. 5). I’ve seen a lot of tweets about the game, and I’ve heard from a lot of people here say they’re all excited. It should be rockin’.”
Below is a full itinerary of the trip:
Tuesday, Sept. 6
Edmundson and Plager arrive at Children’s Mercy Park and are greeted by Sporting KC winger Brad Davis and Swope Park Rangers defender Tommy Meyer. Davis and Meyer, both natives of the St. Louis area, were excited to have the opportunity to hang out with the Blues.
“We got to show them a bit of the stadium, show them the locker room, play a little soccer - we had some good laughs,” said Davis. “I’ve been away for the last 15 years playing soccer professionally and now I’m back here in Kansas City, which is a little bit closer to home. The Blues are a team I had the privilege of watching since I was extremely young, and I’ve followed them ever since.”
“This is all new to me and Bobby because soccer isn’t too big back in Canada," Edmundson said. "But it’s been a great experience so far and we really enjoyed it."
The 23-year-old defenseman was wearing a Davis jersey before he left the stadium tour and intends to be back, perhaps before training camp to see his first professional soccer game.
Wednesday, Sept. 7
Wednesday morning consisted of radio and TV interview stops at four different stations in Kansas City, including 610 Sports, Blues radio affiliate 1030 AM, Fox 4 and KC Live, a morning show for KSHB. Edmundson and Plager talked pucks, but Louie chimed in and delivered a weather report.
It’s time for lunch at Q39, a popular new barbecue spot in Kansas City. The Blues have invited season ticket holders Charles and Chris McCann to lunch. The McCanns, who have had season tickets since 1981, live near Kansas City but still drive to and from St. Louis for about 35 games per year.
“My son’s never missed a day of school or never missed a day of church because of it, and I’ve never missed work, so it’s all good,” Charles said.
The McCanns only knew they were being treated to lunch, but had no idea they’d be having it with Edmundson and Plager.
“We had a wonderful time today. It was a big surprise,” Charles said. “For people like us, which are just regular fans, to have an hour to talk hockey with the real pros is really a wonderful treat. We enjoyed it very much.”
It’s time to make two stops - Children’s Mercy Hospital and the University of Kansas Hospital - to spread some cheer to hospitalized children. Of course, Louie is a big hit with nearly all of the kids, but it’s Edmundson who provides the most entertainment. He sits down with several children to play board games like “Fibber” - where your nose grows if you tell a lie - and “Apples to Apples.”
“This is what it’s all about - giving back,” Plager said. “It makes us realize how fortunate we are to play the game and live our dream. To come in here with these kids and see the smiles on their faces - and when you come here with Louie, no matter how sick these kids are, they have a smile on their face.”
Edmundson and Plager are special guests at a Kansas City Youth Hockey chalk talk at Centerpoint Medical Center Community Ice, an ice rink attached to the home of the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks, who the Blues just entered into an affiliate agreement with a month ago. Plager, who has been around the Blues since the inaugural season in 1967-68, talks about his experiences around the game, while Edmundson faces questions from youth hockey players such as “what number do you wear?" and "do you know Matt Climie?”
After the chalk talk, Edmundson hits the ice to skate with the kids, pose for pictures and sign autographs.
"The game is growing so much in Kansas City, we’re just happy to promote it even more,” Edmundson said. “I had a blast out there. Skating around with those kids, you realize there is a lot of potential in this city. The game is growing, and it’s awesome to see.”
Tickets for the Oct. 5 game vs. Washington are available now at SprintCenter.com. Tickets start as low as $15.