The St. Louis Blues are hoping that Canadians adopt their team as it makes its run for the Stanley Cup. Here, in Jonquiere, in the Saguenay region of Quebec, some of us have been supporting the Blues all season. And many of us for much longer than that. But to tell the story about the picture above, I have to tell you about the bro-mance between my husband, Guy Landry, and Art Stutsman, and Art’s “sports-things-shopping-addiction”.

Hooter's girl

The Hooter’s waitresses are dressed in white and orange

I’ve talked about the two of them before. They coached a couple of minor hockey teams together (Southern Illinois Ice Hawks) when we were living just outside of St. Louis — and that’s when their friendship began. It was a friendship that started out because of hockey, and it grew over time, probably because of the amount of time they spent with each other at Hooter’s., being waited on by the Hooter’s Girls.

The Hooter’s in Fairview Heights became our team’s go-to venue for after-game wings and things – and that particular Hooter’s — in addition to having really cute waitresses who loved our team’s players — had a mega bonus – a Playstation III running NHL 2009. Guy, Art and the other coaches would have a weekly “Coaches’ Meeting” at Hooter’s throughout the season. Sometimes they actually had a practice plan written down by the time they were finished.

From Shopping to Chopping

Let's Go Blues

Art and Curtis (Blue Line) Stutsman, getting ready for Game 6 against the Stars

Even back then, Art was a shopping maniac. If you went to ANY sporting event with him, like a Blues game or a Cardinals game or (heaven help you) a Fighting Illini game (Art’s alma mater), you could find Art, touching the merchandise and then buying it, or putting a bid in for someone’s game-worn jersey in a silent auction. Art’s shopping penchant means he rarely comes home from anywhere empty handed. His wife, Jenn, is mostly forgiving of Art’s expanding “Man Cave” and closet, but from time to time, she cooes sweetly at him, calls him “Artie” and gives him a deadline to sort through his closet, reduce it by half or she’ll take it ALL to the Salvation Army.

Guy happened to be in St. Louis when Art got one of Jenn’s ultimatums and, as the two of them talked about how Art would start reducing his stash this time around (at Hooter’s, watching hockey), Guy asked how many Blues caps Art had, and if any of those would be on Art’s chopping list. You see, Guy was coaching a Bantam A team here in Quebec and, by coincidence, the team was named Les Blues de Jonquiere – the Jonquiere Blues. (How he got a team named “The Blues”, just happened to be the luck of the draw.)

Art estimated a number of Blues caps that I can’t bring myself to write down (he really does need to go to rehab) and with a look of relief, he said, “Sure! How many do you need?”

“Enough to cover everyone on my team,” Guy said.

So the two of them went back to Art’s house, squeezed themselves into the walk-in closet and a couple of minutes later, Guy had a stash of Blues caps – enough for each player on the team.

Blues Caps: A Motivational Tool

Nic and Guy Landry

Nic and Guy Landry after the regional championship

Some coaches use different motivational tools with their teams. We’ve seen hockey cards, hard hats, gold stars put on helmets to designate the first, second and third star of a game – but Guy used Art’s caps as a motivator. There were blue caps with yellow, yellow caps with blue, grey caps, black caps and at least one green St. Patrick’s Day Blues cap – and every player on the team wanted one. By the time the team had played — and won — the tournament in St. Bruno, each of them had earned a cap for great play. And they showed them off, putting their Blues caps on, just like the pro’s do, with the presentation of the banner. Their season just got better from there on out: the team won the regional championship.

With the St. Louis Blues having made their way past Chicago, then Dallas and now about to take on San Jose, Art, who’s been a Blues season ticket holder forever, will surely have some more shopping opportunities –for at least the next two weeks — good news for the St. Louis Blues. As for us For most of us here in Jonquiere, we never knew how much Art was a part of the team, but he was. He helped motivate our kids into playing well, and for something they really wanted.

And that helped make our year.