ST. LOUIS - Of the hundreds of talented players who have worn the Blue Note over the last 50 seasons, only 22 men have shown the combination of skill and leadership that would earn them the designation of Captain. One of these men is Garth Butcher, who wore the "C" with pride during the 1991-92 season.
Butcher spent just over three of his 14 NHL seasons in St. Louis, playing 208 regular season games for the club. During that time, the fearless defenseman earned 46 points and racked up an impressive 508 penalty minutes, often standing up for his teammates and rarely backing down from a fight.
We caught up with him from his home in Washington to find out why he's looking forward to his return to St. Louis and how he's staying busy since retirement.
BLUES: You spent most of your career in Vancouver, but you were the captain of the Blues. What did it mean to wear the "C" for the organization?
BUTCHER: It meant a great deal. There's a great amount of character and wonderful people who have gone through that organization, and lots of guys who are still dear friends. It's something I'm very proud of.
BLUES: What memory from your time in St. Louis stands out the most to you?
BUTCHER: Probably when we swept Chicago. It was an afternoon game...and coming out of the rink, I noticed people from inside were still there for hours and hours. It was a friendly mob scene, and quite an experience to try to get to the car. I remember my kids' eyes just being wide open like 'what's going on here?' Pretty crazy!
BLUES: Speaking of the St. Louis/Chicago rivalry, they'll be playing each other in the Winter Classic in a few weeks, and you'll be back for the Alumni Game. How much are you looking forward to getting back on the ice?
BUTCHER: I'm really looking forward to it! I'm skating a little bit now to try to get the old muscles ready. I'm really looking forward to seeing the guys again and just being back in the city of St. Louis…the people there have been so great to me. I love St. Louis. I'm bringing the whole family out, and we're going to make it a great New Years there!
BLUES: Do you still keep up with any of the alumni you will be playing with at the game?
BUTCHER: I still see a lot of Brett (Hull) and Kelly (Chase) when I'm back. It'll be fun to get everyone back in the locker room and have the old stories start flying again, so I'm really looking forward to seeing all the guys…we had some terrific guys I played with and certainly some great guys before me… and even great ones after me so it'll be fun to see them all.
BLUES: You've become a business owner since retiring from the NHL. Tell us about life after hockey.
BUTCHER: I now have five restaurants in the Toronto area that I'm a partner in. My older boy is helping run those now, because I'm also involved in the mortgage business in Vancouver. I have a mortgage fund there. So business-wise, it's all been good!
BLUES: Running that many businesses is sure to keep you busy. What do you do for fun these days?
BUTCHER: I started skiing a little bit since my retirement, because I never got to do it while I was playing. I wouldn't say that I'm very good, but I enjoy getting up to the hill. I've got a place in Mount Baker, Washington…I'm trying to get up to do that in the next few days hopefully!