ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Tuesday night in New York will be the first time Kevin Shattenkirk skates against his former St. Louis Blues teammates, since he was traded to Washington last February. In the offseason, he was signed by the team he grew up adoring in New Rochelle, New York, but he still clearly has a special place in his heart for St. Louis. Judging from an article he wrote about the “incredible hockey culture” he witnessed in St. Louis.
The column, featured on The Players’ Tribune, was published last week, before Shattenkirk played his first game with the New York Rangers. He explained how his dream to play for his home-town team was like dreaming to be an astronaut. He says it was near impossible to think an East Coast kid could compete with Canadians or Russians, or players from more hockey-infused states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Then he became an “astronaut.” Making the NHL with Colorado and mid-way though his rookie year he was traded to St. Louis.
“For the next seven years, St. Louis was my home. I can’t say enough about the Blues organization and the community and what an incredible hockey culture they’ve built down there. Having guys like Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Bernie Federko and Peter Stastny around all the time, it’s amazing just being able to have a chat with them about hockey or about life. I felt incredibly lucky to have landed in St. Louis, of all the places I could’ve gone.”
There’s a chance he will get to see some of those guys again, when St. Louis plays at Madison Square Garden at 6 p.m.
Shattenkirk scored 59 goals and tallied 199 assists with the Blues. He was a first-pairing defenseman, and quarterbacked his power-play unit – averaging just over 21 minutes of ice time per game.
But off the ice, he had some of his most memorable moments. Like going to Alex Steen’s wedding in the summer of 2016. About 15 teammates made it to the ceremony, although it was in Sweden, “Guys were spread out all over the world during their vacation and so many still came out.”
That was after a devastating loss in the 2016 Conference Finals, with a team that he called, “the closest hockey team I have ever been a part of.”
And he had a big hand in forward Vladimir Tarasenko’s quickly acquired English:
“I would like to think that my lasting legacy in St. Louis, along with the great Chris Stewart, is forcing Vlady Tarasenko to order his dinners in English at restaurants. We knew that he could totally speak English because we were with him all the time, but he’d get embarrassed when we were in public and he’d say, “No, no. Can’t. Please, guys.”
So we used to take the dinner menus from him so he couldn’t just point at what he wanted.”
He could be found around the city, during the season and offseason, sometimes at a St. Louis Cardinals game. He seems to have a pretty good pulse on the sports fans in the area:
“They want a Stanley Cup there more than they want another World Series.”
Tonight, the puck drops at six, with the pregame show on KMOX starting at 5:30 p.m. You can hear all the action right here, at KMOX.com/listen.