Tuesday, December 19, 2006

St Louis

St. Louis

After leaving Sikeston, it was a short drive to St. Louis. We are looking forward to our stop in St. Louis. One of Dan’s former teammates in Owen Sound, Curtis Sanford is playing in St. Louis. We also have an Elmira connection to the Blues. Dennis Wideman from Elmira plays there too. His brother Dale played Junior B with Dan and his other brother Darren is currently the assistant coach of the Junior B team in Elmira. We stayed at the Sundermeier campground at St. Charles a suburb of St. Louis and it is one of the nicest places we have been at. There is a large restaurant right there and we made arrangements to meet Curtis and Dennis there for supper. It was a great evening with good food and even better was the company. We have so enjoyed talking and visiting with friends along the way on our tour. There is always lots of hockey talk too. St. Louis has been struggling of late and it was most unfortunate that the coach got fired that evening. Mike Kitchen was out and Andy Murray is the new coach. It may be the change they need. There is certainly no job security in coaching no matter what the sport. Graham attended the game day skate the next morning and there was a lot of media there covering the coach story. The players had to make some adjustments to a new coach with all the media watching. I’m sure that’s not easy. The arena in St. Louis is right in the downtown core as many of the rinks are in the NHL cities. It is not too far from the beautiful arch that greets you when you arrive in the city core. St. Louis is almost halfway between each coast and is the gateway to the west and the east. The Lewis and Clark expedition went through this area and met in the St. Charles area where we had stayed last night. So many States are so rich in history and it has been so much fun to discover all the stories each State has to offer about their past. It was game time and Graham did some local live radio on a sports talk station. St. Louis was playing their first game with their new coach and looked a bit nervous. They were playing Chicago and came up short in the win department. We are usually pretty lucky for the home team when we are at the game, but not tonight. Our record is now 9 and 4 on our road tour for the home team. We are also at our thirteenth stop. Thirteen teams down and seventeen to go. We are now on the road to Nashville.

Graham's Game Report

Dec 12, 2006
Scottrade Center
Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues
These two once proud franchises have both fallen on hard times the last few years. Chicago reacted first by firing their head coach Trent Yawney and replacing him with Hawk hall of famer Denis Savard. The team has responded with a string of wins to get back in the playoff picture. The Blues took the same route last night and replaced coach Mike Kitchen with Andy Murray. In Murray’s first game behind the bench the Blues responded with a strong effort to build a 1-0 lead after two periods but took three consecutive penalties in a short span to fall behind 3-1 midway through the third. They kept working and got one back with just over a minute left but could not find the equalizer. The team still needs a lot of work but look for them to go on a tear as the players buy in to the coach’s systems or are shuffled to the sidelines.
We had the chance to watch Elmira native Dennis Wideman on the blueline and he played increasing minutes as the game went on. He had a solid game and looked more and more confident as the game progressed. It will be a real opportunity for Dennis to solidify his position with the club as they move into a new era. His skills are needed on this blueline the way it stands now so look for him to rack up some points again shortly.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see another old friend play as goaltender Curtis Sanford is sidelined for several months with a groin injury. He was Dan’s teammate for three years in Owen Sound and has battled his way to the NHL despite being undrafted. One benefit for us was getting to spend a little extra time with Curtis and his young family since he wasn’t in the lineup.
The night before the game we had a good chance to catch up with both Dennis and Curtis over dinner at the RV park we were staying in. They described things as being very unsettled and it was only a few hours later the coach was let go. Despite all the turmoil the next day I had a chance to chat with several players at the game day skate and they seem optimistic of better days ahead. Herbie T will have something to cheer about soon.

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