ST. LOUIS -- Wayne Gretzky took in the atmosphere on the performance stage a few blocks away from Enterprise Center prior to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins on Monday.
"It's great to see that, over the years, the games in the final have even gotten bigger, more meaningful to the entire city," said Gretzky, who was participating Stanley Cup Live, presented by New Amsterdam Vodka. "Not that everybody didn't rally around it before. But now we have barbecues and bands and waiting for fans to rally before the games. You get into a festive mood instead of just showing up for the game and being excited at the game. Our game has grown so much and it's great for the fans to see they can be part of getting excited before the games, also."
Gretzky and actor Jon Hamm joined NHL Network's Jackie Redmond and former NHL forward Adam Burish for about 10 minutes on the show, which begins 90 minutes before puck drop and airs live on Facebook and Twitter.
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Hamm, who was also in St. Louis for Game 3 when the Bruins defeated the Blues 7-2 in Game 3 on Saturday, said the atmosphere outside was "electric."
"This doesn't happen here very often, so it's really great to be a part of this," said Hamm, who has known Gretzky for years. "Just look around, everybody's got a smile on their face and everybody's wearing their gear and are pretty exciting. I think the numbers were insane about the amount of people we had Saturday and tonight is going to be just as rocking."
Video: Jon Hamm, Wayne Gretzky talk about their friendship
Gretzky was traded to the Blues from the Los Angeles Kings for forwards Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat and Craig Johnson on Feb. 27, 1996. He had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 18 regular-season games and 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 13 playoff games. He called this season's Blues, who are making their first Cup final appearance since 1970, "an incredible story."
"When you think about where they came from in November and sort of down and out and last place and obviously it looked a little bit bleak, to say the least," Gretzky said. "But you've got to believe in your organization, and Doug Armstrong's a good general manager and he really believed in the moves and the trades he made in the offseason.
"It takes time when you do make moves for guys to come together," he said. "It's not easy just throwing new guys together and all of a sudden saying, 'ok, go out there and win.' It took their team a little bit of time, then they added the goaltender [Jordan Binnington] and the youngsters played really well, so it's great for them and great for the city of St. Louis."