Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fans Flock to See Blues' Newcomers, Third Jersey at IceBreaker Event

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fans Flock to See Blues' Newcomers, Third Jersey at IceBreaker Event

Article excerpt

Sunday marked coach Mike Yeo's first Icebreaker event with the Blues, and the place was packed.

Can you believe this crowd?

"I can't. It's unreal," Yeo said.

He quickly corrected himself.

"I shouldn't say that," he continued. "I can believe it because I know our fan base. Even walking around town since I've been back in town, people coming up non-stop, everyone is so excited about the season, excited about the summer (player additions). Our fan base is unbelievable. The loyalty, the support. And obviously we're extremely motivated to deliver a really good season."

As pep rallies go, Sunday's event at Ballpark Village was at the high end of the spectrum. If another person was squeezed into the place, the roof might have popped off.

Naturally, they came to see the Blues' third jersey unveiled -- it looks very much like the team's Winter Classic sweaters from the 2016-17 season, only maybe a tad lighter on the blue. And of course, they came to say hello to the new Blues.

The offseason pickups were all there: centers Ryan O'Reilly (from Buffalo) and Tyler Bozak (Toronto) ; forwards David Perron (Vegas) and Patrick Maroon (New Jersey); and goalie Chad Johnson (Buffalo).

As the newest Blues, plus old hand Colton Parayko, were introduced wearing the new third jerseys and standing in the balcony, they tossed T-shirts into the crowd. Then they all came downstairs to the main stage for informal interviews with broadcasters Chris Kerber and John Kelly.

The local guy from Oakville High, Maroon, got a thunderous ovation, the loudest welcome of the night from a stage that earlier included general manager Doug Armstrong. Blues icon Bob Plager was on hand as well.

The reception "gives me chills," Maroon said.

Nicknamed the Big Rig, he even gave a shout-out to his son Anthony -- aka Lil' Rig -- who was hoisted Lion King-style from the balcony.

O'Reilly, acquired in the blockbuster July 1 trade with Buffalo that sent just about everyone but Blues mascot Louie to the Sabres, finished a strong second on the applause meter.

"This is incredible," O'Reilly told the crowd. "I never would've thought it'd be like this."

With all those bodies -- maybe 1,000 or more -- crammed together, it seemed even more muggy inside than outside early Sunday evening. But no one seemed to mind. Not the players wearing those jerseys, or the fans hoping this is the year ... for you know what.

"I was motivated before, but I tell you, I'm motivated right now," Yeo told the crowd. "This city deserves a Stanley Cup."

Of course, the crowd roared in response. But they roared a lot. At times, they broke out in random chants of "Let's go Blues! …

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