ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Burrus had a St. Louis Blues Western Conference Champions hat on his head and a smile on his face.
Burrus, a lifetime St. Louis resident and manager of the Soulard Market, was still beaming on Thursday, the day after the Blues defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, giving the Blues their first Stanley Cup championship since joining the NHL in 1967. Burris isn't sure what the Blues victory does for the city, but he knows what it does for the fan base.
"We've gotten rid of the inferiority complex we've had with hockey," said Burrus, who's planning to get his Stanley Cup Champions hat very soon. "We had the St. Louis Cardinals who bring us home the gold every now and then. We know what they are. The Blues always break our hearts. Or they did. Now they haven't broken our hearts, so our love connection with the Blues is now cemented."
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St. Louis has had its share of winning. The Cardinals have won the World Series 11 times, the most recent title coming in 2011. The Rams went to the Super Bowl twice during their time in St. Louis (1995-2015), winning it in 1999. Now the Blues, who ended their 51-season title drought Wednesday, and their fans can revel in that same euphoria.
"There was a lot of negative press after the Rams left, that, 'Oh, it's not a city that can support a team like that. It's a baseball town, no other sports really matter here,'" Chad Dalton of St. Louis said. "But we realize that's not the truth. There's a great hockey team here, a great fan base here."
Karen Ripparda of Trenton, Illinois, about 31 miles east of St. Louis, came out of a garage on Eighth Street wearing Blues pajama bottoms, a Blues scarf and a T-shirt reading "Gloria," the Laura Branigan song the Blues adopted as their anthem in January. Ripparda, who's worked in St. Louis for more than 30 years, said the city has caught Blues fever.
"It's been amazing," she said. "I mean, there are always been on-the-edge fans. They watch hockey when it's on, but they're not huge fans. But as we've gotten closer and closer [to the Cup], you see more people wearing Blues attire, you hear more people at work talking. 'How was the game last night? How are the Blues doing?' They really picked it up and cheered this team to a win."
For the Blues and their fans, there were a lot of years when the quest for the Cup came up short. Now, the wait is over.
"For so many years, we always thought it was going to be next year," Maureen Jacquot of St. Louis said. "We had Mike Keenan come and be our coach, we had Wayne Gretzky, we had [Brett] Hull and [Adam] Oates, and we always thought it was going to be next year. Now it's finally here, and it means the world."