Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Executives Team Up to Form Hockey's 'Richest Line'; Stillman, DeWitt Attend Gretzky Camp; BLUES

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Executives Team Up to Form Hockey's 'Richest Line'; Stillman, DeWitt Attend Gretzky Camp; BLUES

Article excerpt

Sunday will be the biggest sports day of the winter for a lot of Americans. Not for Blues owner Tom Stillman.

The most exciting day or days took place earlier this week. Stillman became the first NHL owner to take part in Wayne Gretzkys fantasy hockey camp. Even more remarkably, he wasnt the only high- ranking team executive to participate. He wasnt even the only high- ranking team executive from St. Louis.

Matter of fact, he wasnt even the only high-ranking team executive from St. Louis to play on his line. Skating on the opposite wing was Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III.

I was calling them the richest line in hockey, said Gretzky, with a laugh.

Stillman, 61, became a hockey chairman when his group purchased the Blues last May. He has been a beer league hockey player for many more years, often skating with the Blues alumni group. He has participated in Blues fantasy hockey camp in years past.

Years ago, Stillman had a good friend who regularly would call him and leave a message, identifying himself as Wayne Gretzky. Last August, Stillman walked out of a restaurant in town and his cell phone rang. The screen on his phone indicated it was Wayne Gretzky calling.

And I thought, Is this a joke? Stillman recalled.

It wasnt. It was Gretzky.

Gretzky explained he was finalizing plans for his annual camp in Las Vegas. Each year, a different NHL team is represented and adopted as the official camp jersey. Gretzky Fantasy Camp XI was wearing the jersey of the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues.

Adding to the effect, Gretzky was bringing in former Blues players such as Curtis Joseph, Cliff Ronning, Kelly Chase, Grant Fuhr, Geoff Courtnall and Garth Butcher. In all, the 14 former NHL pros involved accounted for 18 Stanley Cups. For spice, former Blues mentor Iron Mike Keenan was among the coaches.

The tradition of sports is something you can never replace, said Gretzky, whose Blues career included just 18 regular-season games in 1995-96. The 67 Blues uniform is one of the nicest in hockey history.

The Bluenote is a famous logo and I think everyone was excited to be wearing it and have that uniform on. I invited some former Blues players and I just thought it would be cool for the owner of the Blues to be part of this. Thats how it came about.

Similarly, Gretzky played golf in St. Louis with DeWitt last fall and urged him to come. He said, You know you ought to come to the camp, because we have the Blues as the theme this year, DeWitt recalled. So I couldnt resist that.

Not only did DeWitt attend, he brought along his brother, Andy, and his brother-in-law. In keeping with the flavor, the DeWitt trio occasionally was on the ice together at the same time, not unlike the Plagers (Barclay, Bob and Billy) of the 1968-69 Blues.

With my brother and brother-in-law ... we never have played together, so this was the first time, DeWitt said. …

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