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Armstrong pays tribute to dad on Blues' Hall of Fame trip

GM gets picture with image of father, inducted in 1991 as linesman

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Doug Armstrong had a Hall of Fame moment he will never forget.

The general manager of the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues was at the Hockey Hall of Fame with players and staff to present the Hall with a 2019 championship ring on Tuesday. While the rest of the Blues were being taken on a tour of the facilities, he broke away from the pack to fulfill a goal he'd been thinking about for a while. 

Armstrong went to the Great Hall, the area dedicated to honoring players, officials and builders who've been inducted, and sought out the display dedicated to his dad Neil. Once there, he posed for a photo with the image of his father.

"It was special," Armstrong said. "It meant a lot. In a way, we're both in here.

"When we were waiting around, I snuck up there and took a picture of the ring and my dad. I was in Sarnia on Monday and actually got a picture of him with the ring on."

Neil Armstrong, 86, was an NHL linesman who officiated 1,744 NHL games from 1957-1978. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

But he could not be with his son on Tuesday. Neil Armstrong is in an assisted living home battling Parkinson's disease and dementia in Sarnia, Ontario. Doug brought the Stanley Cup there on July 27 so he and his dad could share a father-son bond.

"Each of those occasions, they've been very meaningful to myself," Armstrong said. "When you have children yourself and they grow, you understand all the sacrifices your parents make for you. I respect that more obviously going through what I did with my own kids now."

Armstrong was an assistant GM with the Dallas Stars when they won the Stanley Cup in 1999. He'd wondered if he'd ever get the chance to celebrate another one with his dad. 

The Blues won the Stanley Cup for the first time since entering the NHL in 1967 in June.

"Being able to share the Stanley Cup with him, to share the ring with him, we did it 20 years ago and to be able to share some of the experiences I've been through the past two decades with him, well, that's pretty special," Doug Armstrong said. 

"He gets a big smile out of it and those are few and far between for him. So it's been great."

Tuesday was a great day for the Blues, who were coming off a 3-2 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Monday.

After touring the displays and the archives, players, staff and fans gathered in the Hall's theater where Blues executives Larry Robinson (Class of 1995) and Al MacInnis (Class of 2007), both members of the Hall, presented a Stanley Cup ring to Hall curator Phil Pritchard and chairman Lanny McDonald.

"We've been doing this ceremony since 2007 and this is the first time an entire team has attended the event," Pritchard said. "That says a lot about what the St. Louis Blues are.

"It's also the first time we've had a member of ownership here for this."

Pritchard was referring to Blues chairman Tom Stillman.

"Every time we come to an event like this, I wonder when this Stanley Cup dream will come to an end," Stillman said. "So far it hasn't.

"It's still special. For players. For management. For the fans. And for me."

The ring, made of 14-karat white-and-yellow gold, contains 282 diamonds and more than 50 sapphires that help make up the Blues logo at the center. 

Each ring features the player's name and number on one side with the St. Louis Arch on the opposite side. Inside the ring are the playoff series scores of the Blues' run to the Cup.

And, for the finishing touch, each ring has "Play Gloria" inscribed underneath the band, a reference to the 1982 Laura Branigan hit that became the team's anthem.

"We know how tough it is to repeat," Stillman said. "But we'd like to do this again. That's the goal."

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