Sunday, August 30, 2015

Blues kick off new campaign with Ice Breaker event

Backes, Pietrangelo, Tarasenko, Brouwer, Plager, Pronger 
among players, alumni who welcomed 3,500 fans into Ballpark Village

ST. LOUIS -- Judging by the large turnout for the second Ice Breaker even the Blues put on Sunday at Ballpark Village, their fans have forgiven them for another early playoff exit.

An estimated 3,500 fans jammed into Fox Sports Live to welcome in a new season and did so with re-energized enthusiasm.

David Backes, Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko and new Blue Troy Brouwer were on hand along with Bob Plager and Chris Pronger to usher in the 2015-16 season. Plager gave Brouwer the opportunity to don a Blues jersey for the first time.
Fox Sports Midwest's John Kelly (left) talks to Vladimir Tarasenko (second
from left) as teammates Alex Pietrangelo (27), Troy Brouwer and David
Backes as well as KMOX's Chris Kerber look on Sunday.

Owner Tom Stillman, general manager Doug Armstrong, assistant GM Martin Brodeur and coach Ken Hitchcock also took turns on stage. Backes, Pietrangelo, Tarasenko and Brouwer came in from the second level and arrived onto the stage via red carpet.

"This is great," said Brouwer, who's been in town for two weeks skating during informal workouts at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Outlet Mall with his new teammates. "To have this much excitement, this much buzz before the end of August (and) before the season starts, it's really encouraging. It's impressive what the team's been able to do here, build a fan base, incorporate their fan base and be able to meet the players and be a part of the community as well as being comfortable here."

Television play-by-play John Kelly and radio play-by-play voice Chris Kerber emceed the event.

After another regular season with 100-plus points and high hopes of a deep playoff run, the Blues' first round ouster left a bad taste in a lot of fans' mouths. But a cooling off period has reinvigorated hopes for another run for better results in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"This is fun," Pietrangelo said. "This is a point in the summer where we're all pretty excited to get things going. All the guys start rolling back into town; you kind of get that itch to get back on the ice with everybody and you come to an event like this and you see the excitement, it gets you ready to go here for training camp. Still (a month) out for the first game, but getting ready for training camp is awfully exciting for us."

Players report for training camp Sept. 17 with off-ice physicals and the first official on-ice workouts begin Sept. 18. The first preseason game is a split squad game with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sept. 22.