Kariya was drawn
to rebuilding St. Louis at least in part because of Murray, who led Canada to
the gold medal at the 2007 world championships and is a candidate to coach the
host country's Olympic team at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Kariya's hometown.
(There is nothing wrong in having an advocate in high places for Kariya, a
two-time Olympian who was not selected to play last year in Turin.) He remains,
in Davidson's words, "a professional's professional" who, in the second
half of his career, seems to be extracting more of the fun from hockey without
sacrificing his trademark studiousness and preparation. Each day he asks Mike
Caruso, the vice president of public relations, "What are you doing today
to help the St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup?"
"I'm on the
ice, coaching my kid's team," Caruso said when Kariya called him last
"I don't see
how that's helping the Blues win the Stanley Cup."
are you doing right now?"
exactly is that helping the Blues win the Stanley Cup?" Caruso
my eyes. Looking left. Looking right."
The eyes of St.
Louis, if not yet the NHL, are being refocused on this franchise. Last year the
Blues got some notice, and drew 17,868, for its Jan. 13 free food game against
Los Angeles—the approximate cost of 47,000 hot dogs and 22,000 chicken wings,
etc., was $250,000—but this season the attention is on something with fewer
calories and more substance: workingman's hockey. There will be some bumpy
times until St. Louis gets better quarterbacking on the power play and its
promising defense matures, but the big picture, like the one on the office
wall, looks fine.