Since the St. Louis Blues captured their first Stanley Cup earlier this month, hockey fans across the Show Me State have been reveling in all the glory that comes with capturing professional hockey’s greatest prize, not to mention the best trophy in all of sports. The Blues have a rich hockey history dating decades and have given the game some of its most talented and memorable players to date. The one thing missing from their resume was a date with Lord Stanley. That moment finally came, and the party hasn’t stopped since.
There were great storylines surrounding the Blues on their march to the Cup. Most of them are well documented. However, there was incredible significance to the Kansas City Mavericks hockey family with this Stanley Cup victory, and the Orange Army faithful should be gleaming with pride as three of our own will forever be known as Stanley Cup Champions.
As the Blues celebrated on the ice after clinching the Cup in a decisive Game Seven victory of the Boston Bruins, they passed the Cup from one teammate to the next. All of a sudden, the Cup was passed to former Mavericks netminder Ville Husso. While he may have been an afterthought, especially with the performance of rookie goalie Jordan Binnington in the Cup Final, watching one of the more talented cage protectors to ever pull on a Mavericks sweater become the first former Mav to hoist the Stanley Cup was truly a sight to be seen. Goosebumps raced across my skin as I sat in awe, watching a man that whose hand I had shaken, interviewed after some of his incredible performances for Kansas City, and watched him work his was to the big club, raise that beautiful symbol of eternal glory high above his head. For Mavericks fans everywhere, that was an incredible moment.
A man who has provided the soundtrack to many of the memorable moments inside Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, Eric Siders in another former Maverick that was a part of this historic Blues organization. Siders is the Video Production Manager for St. Louis, providing an atmosphere to any fan that steps into the Enterprise Center that is second to none, much like he did when he was the Director of Game Operations for the Mavericks. Siders is a man that operates behind the scenes, but much of what we all love about going to Mavericks games is a direct result of his tireless efforts to be the best at his craft, efforts that landed him a well-deserved gig in the NHL. So, the next time you make the trip East to catch a Blues game, and you’re blown away by the in-game atmosphere, video intro, or whatever Siders has up his sleeve for that night, take a moment and revel in the fact that a treasured member of the Mavericks family is killing it at the highest level of hockey.
There have been a lot of people come through this organization over the last 10 seasons. They all have left their mark in one way or another. Few have had as big of an impact as Andrew Dvorak. The former Equipment Manager for the Mavericks left the team after nine seasons to take his dream job with the Blues as an Equipment Assistant. When news broke that he would be leaving the team, there was a resounding bellow of joy throughout the organization and fan base, as one of the hardest working men in professional sports was seeing his years of dedication pay off with an opportunity most can only dream about. While those feelings of joy never wavered, they were accompanied by an underlying grip of sadness. Dvorak bled orange and black for nine years. He had been here since the beginning. He was an original Maverick. He was always the first guy to the rink, bustling in at the wee hours of the morning to get to work, knowing that he had a locker room full of guys that were depending on him. After the games, there was Dvorak working tirelessly as the players ate their postgame meals and signed autographs, media members got their quotes and chatted about the game. As everyone else headed home for the night, Dvorak stayed because there was still work to be done. We got to watch him grow, not only as a professional, honing his craft en route to becoming one of the best around, but also as a man and father. I’ll never forget the last game that Sebastien Thinel and John-Scott Dickson played for the Mavericks. None of us in the media knew at the time, though maybe we had our suspicions. It was after the final home game of a rough season. As I entered through the doors to the locker room area for my normal postgame routine, I immediately knew that this was no normal end of season interview session. As players and front office staff shuffled around to wrap up another season of Mavericks hockey, there was a group of four men, standing together for, unbeknownst to the rest of us, the last time. They embraced, wiping tears from their faces, and posed for a few photographs together. These men were titans of Mavericks hockey. They are legends still to this day, yet only three of them, Andrew Courtney, Thinel, and Dickson, ever pulled on a Mavericks sweater. The fourth was Andrew Dvorak. THAT is how much he meant and still means to this organization.
So, as I watched my friend raise Lord Stanley’s Cup high above his head, his face beaming with child-like joy, I fought back tears. Not because I had been a lifelong Blues fan like many of you reading this, but because I am a fan of Husso, Siders, and Dvorak. Three incredible men that all had incredibly different journeys to hockey’s grandest prize. Three men that brought a little bit of Kansas City and a whole lot of Mavericks hockey to the Stanley Cup.