Plenty of people from the region and around the country are jumping on the St. Louis Blues' bandwagon during this year’s impressive playoff run. But an 87-year-old diehard from Chesterfield has been a huge fan since the beginning. John Oefelein has purchased season tickets every year of the team’s existence.
And despite decades of heartbreaking playoff losses, his support has NOT wavered.
“Every season there’s some highs and lows of different sorts and that stuff. But I’ve never gotten discouraged on them,” said Oefelein. “You might say I bleed blue. I’m very, very tied to it and just enjoy it. In fact there are some who think I go overboard.”
Oefelein and a friend from high school decided in 1967 to buy tickets for all the games in the Blues' first season. They continued to make those purchases for the next dozen years or so. Then, his friend dropped out, but Oefelein kept going.
His decades of support have not gone unnoticed by the franchise. The Blues had Oefelein drop the puck for a ceremonial faceoff last year to help mark the team’s 50th season.
His longtime commitment to the Blues is an extension of a love for hockey that was sparked before St. Louis was awarded the franchise in the late 1960s. The former Anheuser-Busch corporate engineer went to games when St. Louis was the home of a Chicago farm team.
He also liked playing the sport outside with some buddies.
“We’d go out to Forest Park in the winter time,” Oefelein said. “We’d go out there with the skates and do a little hockey playing.”
He managed to convince his family over the years to become hockey fans.
“They didn’t have a choice,” he joked. “My wife had never been involved in sports before we got married. She learned, and the first 10, 12 years, she went to almost every game.”
Oefelein admits he would be disappointed if the Blues don’t finish the job this year and beat the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.
If St. Louis wins, he’s got a plan.
“First thing I’ll do is I’ll get my playoff beard, cut that off,” he said, and then added, “this is the most beard I’ve been able to grow — because they’ve been in it longer this year than any other year.”
Oefelein will be in his Enterprise Center seats for Game 3 Saturday, Game 4 Monday and Game 6 on June 9, if the series goes that far.
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