Oops: 1,000 apologies

Steen no-show after milestone game a miscommunication

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ST. LOUIS — There was a video tribute from the Winnipeg Jets. A standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Bell MTS Place. And then, nothing but post-game crickets from the man of the hour, Alexander Steen.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/02/2020 (917 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ST. LOUIS — There was a video tribute from the Winnipeg Jets. A standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Bell MTS Place. And then, nothing but post-game crickets from the man of the hour, Alexander Steen.

A strange development indeed, as the 35-year-old St. Louis Blues forward was said to not be available last Saturday by his team’s public relations staff to speak on the event of his 1,000th NHL game taking place in the city he was born in. This, despite media requests to interview Steen both before and after his special day. 

Did the fact his team lost 5-2 to wrap up a miserable road trip rain on his parade and have him in a foul mood? To hear Steen now explain it, there was no snub, but rather what seems to be an unfortunate snafu in communications involving himself and his organization. And he wanted to make it clear he greatly appreciated the kind gestures that came his way. 

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods St. Louis Blues' Alexander Steen, left, heads over the boards against Winnipeg Jets during the first period in Winnipeg last Saturday. Steen was playing his 1,000 NHL game.

“There was a lot of emotion and preparation and stuff going into that game. It was a special moment, obviously, with a lot of family friends and family in the building. With all of the games that you play, injuries that happen and the Jets getting a team back and things like that, it was funny how that worked out,” Steen said Thursday as he prepared for his 1,002nd career game, which also happened to be against Winnipeg. 

“As it was getting closer, I was getting really excited to play in that one. It was a lot of fun. Then the tribute and everything, Mr. Chipman and the Jets organization has been so good to our family. So it was definitely a special night.”

As for the silent treatment, the son of Jets 1.0 legend Thomas Steen claims he initially didn’t know there were reporters waiting to talk to him following the game, and then when he did find out he had already showered and was on his way to meet family and friends. 

Perhaps sensing that wasn’t the best look, the Blues issued a statement from Steen the following day on social media. And he was made available on Thursday for more than eight minutes, chatting about the milestone, his connection to the Jets and much more. 

“It was the first time in a long time I was nervous or anxious. I had a lot of emotions going into that game. It was a special day,” Steen said of having it work out that the game would happen in Winnipeg. 

“It was a few games after I came back from my injury, my high ankle sprain. I talked to a couple of buddies and Paul Stastny (now with Vegas) was actually one of them that counted it out. Once I heard, I probably knew about it with about 15 or 16 games to go and it made it exciting that it was going to happen there.”

He got an even bigger tribute Thursday night, as the Blues officially honoured Steen by presenting him with a silver stick, a Rolex watch and a customized painting, There were also video well-wishes from a number of former teammates, plus two sons who are back in Sweden, 

The big moments keep coming for his family, as Thomas Steen will be inducted into the Jets Hall of Fame prior to Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers. Randy Carlyle’s banner will also go up into the Bell MTS Place rafters. 

“That’s awesome. Something we’ve looked forward to as a family as well. It’s going to be a great night for him. We watched first-hand how much he poured into the team and the community and how much the community helped us as a family. The best people in Winnipeg. We were fortunate to be there as long as we were,” said Steen.

Especially fitting since his earliest hockey memories involve plenty of former Jets, as he was always around the rink with his father in those days. 

“I never really had one idol, or one guy. You kind of watched Teemu and he was like a magnet, the way everything came to him, the way he shot the puck, the speed he played at. I really liked watching (Alexei) Zhamnov play. I was a big fan of his,” said Steen.

“I was a big fan of some of the defence, like I followed Phil Housley. I think when Phil changed his helmet I changed my helmet, I wanted to have the same helmet as Phil. And then the goalies, too. Pokey Reddick was a big idol of mine when I was young. And then Goalie Bob, Bob Essensa. Tie Domi was there, he bought me a pair of skates one time. I slept in them that night.”

Who would have thought he’d eventually lace up his own skates for more than 1,000 NHL games?

“You take it one day at a time and it goes by so fast. It was a surreal moment putting the gear on and understanding it was the 1,000th time. Long time, but it goes by pretty quick,” he said. 

 

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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