It seems the debate is always happening in some form or another. Who should be the next St. Louis Blues player to have their jersey retired? The discussion always seems to revolve around what current Blues have the best odds, but I am here to tell you the Blues already have a prime candidate. It is 38 days until the puck drops on the St. Louis Blues season, so it is fitting that the candidate is former Blue Pavol Demitra.
Demitra spent 16 seasons in the NHL, where he started with the team that drafted him, the Ottawa Senators in 1993, and ended with the Vancouver Canucks in 2010. Throughout his 16 seasons in the league, half of them were with the St. Louis Blues. Demitra posted 493 points (204 G, 289 A) in 494 games played with the Blues.
Demitra totaled 89 points or more in a season twice with the Blues and posted 75 or more points in four of his eight seasons with the team. He is one of only eight players in Blues franchise history to average a point per game (1.00). Demitra also recorded 43 points (18 G, 25 A) in 54 career playoff games with the Blues. Here is how Demitra ranks in the Blues all-time franchise records:
As the stats show, Demitra was one of the most dynamic offensive players in Blues franchise history. Demitra also ranks sixth all-time in NHL points produced by Slovakian players. That list is a rather reputable one, as the five players ahead of Demitra are Stan Mikita, Peter Stastny, Marian Hossa, Peter Bondra, and Marian Gaborik.
But the biggest reason I argue to retire Demitra’s number is to honor his memory after his tragic death back in 2011. After his last season in the NHL back in 2009-10, Demitra elected to sign with Lokomotiv Yaroslavi of the KHL. But on September 7th, 2011, the team’s plane crashed, killing Demitra, the entire team, and most of the flight crew. Included on the team was former Blue Igor Koralev. Demitra was 36 and Koralev was 41. In November of 2011, the Blues held a pregame ceremony, honoring both players.
Yes, there are likely better jersey retirement candidates for the Blues other than Demitra. Other players spent more years, played more games with the Blues, and put up better stats. But, I argue for the retirement of Demitra’s #38, not solely because of his offensive ranks within the St. Louis Blues franchise, but because he was one of the most humble and talented players in franchise history and was taken from us far too soon. It would be right to honor him by retiring his number, possibly even a duel jersey retirement with Koralev if the Blues see fit, as Koralev wore the same number for the Blues for two seasons in the 90’s. Do the right thing and #Retire38.