Hochman: St. Louis, your Blues won the Stanley Cup for you. Soak it up | Benjamin Hochman

Hochman: St. Louis, your Blues won the Stanley Cup for you. Soak it up | Benjamin Hochman

BOSTON — It’s like a fantasy land down here on the ice — a dizzying and delirious and delightful feeling as you wander around the whirring and wooooooooing Blues.

Everywhere you look, every turn, there’s just joy. There’s goalie Jordan Binnington, an instant icon back in St. Louis, hollering for his dad to come over and lift the Stanley Cup. There’s coach Craig Berube with this great grin. There’s the inspirational Laila Anderson, the 11-year-old Blues fan battling a rare disease, posing with the Blues players who requested selfies with her. And there’s Patrick Maroon, the everyman Superman, the kid from St. Louis who became a Blue and helped his hometown win the Stanley Cup for the first time ever.

Game 7. Wednesday night. Blues 4, Bruins 1.

“We did it!” Maroon said as tears filled his eyes and his voice cracked. “We did it. There’s nothing else. We put everything on the line from January 3 on, and we deserve this. And what a way to finish it, on the road where we play great. … Me and my son will take this to our graves. We’ll have memories for life.”

The 2018-19 St. Louis Blues are the greatest story in St. Louis sports history. If the resilience of the 2011 Cardinals was legendary, consider these Blues, last in the league in points on January 3. And look over there — the Pietrangelo family is hoisting the Stanley Cup as cameras flash and eyes flitter. Blues fans slap the glass here at Boston’s TD Garden and, man, you can only imagine just what is going on in St. Louis bars and living rooms and anywhere the fans scream and dream.

“I can’t even fathom what this is going to be like these next few days with these fans,” Maroon said. “These fans deserve it more than anything.”

There’s something intimate about all of this. This is not to knock Boston or other hubs that win a championship and go big-city berserk. From the outside, it just looks very large, sweeping, mass-produced (or, in this state, “Mass” produced). We’re St. Louis, and we so often fight to be known and respected as big, but in this instance of the Stanley Cup Final, being a “smaller big city” makes it feel even more of a shared experience.

“It’s a nice ending to a story, for sure — it had to be this way, man,” said Binnington, the fourth-string goalie who became the starter and now a star. “I can’t believe where we’re at. It’s awesome.”

Binnington’s girlfriend, Canadian actress Cristine Prosperi, was asked if it’s sunk in to him what it means to the people of St. Louis? Jordan, of course, isn’t very open to reporters.

“Yeah, we talk about it all the time, just how important this is for the city, and how he doesn’t want to let the city down,” Prosperi shared. “That he just wants to make them proud. The community has been so amazing — they’ve been behind him and supporting him, and we’re just so happy to bring the Cup back for them. …

“I mean, it’s crazy. Just to put it in the magnitude that we were in San Antonio at the beginning of the year. And now we’re in the Stanley Cup Final and we won the Stanley Cup. I’m just so proud of him, he has worked at this his entire life, he has dreamed of this.”

Bobby Plager, the septuagenarian former defenseman, is a Blues lifer. The Blues talked about winning this for him — and for all the alumni who bled red on their blue sweaters but never won it all.

“It’s unreal, it’s unbelievable,” Plager said from the ice. “Bobby Plager didn’t win it, there are a bunch of guys out there who won it, and they won it for me.

“They called me over to lift the Stanley Cup. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s unreal for the players, our fans back in St. Louis — we’re coming home for a parade. It’s a little heavier than I thought. You know, I’ve got two bad shoulders, I needed help to lift it up, just to hold it above my head and give it a little kiss. It’s what you dream about. Never did it as a player, but this is just as good.”

For Phil Maroon, Patrick’s dad, he felt the fantasy land, too.

“Never in a million years,” he said, trying to comprehend what just happened. “I remember all those days in the basement. They had the trophy down there, they’d be playing for the Stanley Cup, and now — this is real. And it’s something that I can’t believe.

“The fans of St. Louis, I’m so happy for them. … My dad was a season-ticket holder from the inception. From 1967 until the day he passed away in 2004. I remember going to all those games with my boys. My dad had two tickets and I’d buy two obstructed view tickets for like $10, go down to his seats, put two boys in one seat and put Patrick on my lap in the other. To see this now? Unbelievable. And all the near misses in the past. And now we’re here.”

The St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup champions. It stinks that we have to go back to the real world now. This has been some sort of magical vacation for Blues fans, into uncharted territory. This run has introduced us to new heroes, established others as St. Louis stalwarts. It’s put Berube, in just half a season, into rare air of St. Louis coaches and managers. Along the way, we met Laila and Gloria and showed the sports world just how much St. Louis cares about its hockey team.

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