April 5, 2020

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How Swede it is: Steen and dad return to family homeland with Stanley Cup

Alexander Steen was overwhelmed by a torrent of thoughts the moment he raised the Stanley Cup over his head that memorable night in Boston last June.

Smack dab in the middle was a vision of his father, Thomas, wearing his No. 25 Winnipeg Jets 1.0 jersey and skating circles around opponents at the old barn on Maroons Road.

Six months later, the St. Louis Blues winger says he's still surprised by the jarring impact of finally capturing an NHL championship after a 14-year pursuit.

"All the emotions that you go through. It's such an unbelievable feeling, something you start to think might never happen. It's been something that not just myself, but my family has trying to win for a long, long time," Steen, 35, said Friday following the Blues' morning skate at Bell MTS Place.

"Celebrating it with all my friends and family, all the joy that comes with that. It was a wild ride last season and a really fun summer because of it."

Los Angeles Kings' Blake Lizotte (left), and Alexander Steen battle it out earlier this week. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / The Canadian Press files)

Los Angeles Kings' Blake Lizotte (left), and Alexander Steen battle it out earlier this week. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / The Canadian Press files)

St. Louis defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the NHL final June 12 to win the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup.

Each member of the Blues had a chance to spend a few days with hockey's hallowed chalice, and Steen chose to show it off in Sweden — specifically at a children's hospital and then the Sundsvall Hockey Club, near his dad's old stomping grounds.

Father and son posed for a pile of pictures with the big mug that day.

"Everybody flew over and a lot of family from Sweden came. It was a great time," said Steen, whose first hockey idol was his dad, and who would later follow in Thomas's crafty skate tracks. "It's something you do as a team, right? But there's a lot of other people that helped you get there along the way."

Thomas played 950 NHL games, all with Winnipeg (1981-95) accumulating 264 goals and 817 points. Coming into Friday's matchup with the Jets, Alexander had 238 goals and 610 points.

Alexander Steen hoists the Stanley Cup as the Blues arrive at the airport in St. Louis after defeating the Boston Bruins last season to win their first NHL championship. (Colter Peterson / The Canadian Press files)

Alexander Steen hoists the Stanley Cup as the Blues arrive at the airport in St. Louis after defeating the Boston Bruins last season to win their first NHL championship. (Colter Peterson / The Canadian Press files)

In March, Steen had a three-assist night to eclipse the 600-point mark. In doing so, he and Thomas became just the fourth father-son duo in NHL history to record 600-plus points each, joining an elite group that included the Howes (Gordie and Mark), the Hulls (Bobby and Brett) and the Stastnys (Peter and Paul).

Steen was born in Winnipeg in 1984 and spent his formative years in the Manitoba capital before heading to Sweden, his parents' native home, in his mid-teens. He played junior in Sweden and was drafted in the first round (24th overall) in 2002 by Toronto, played parts of four seasons with the Maple Leafs, and a dozen in St. Louis.

He's had 11 seasons with at least 15 goals, firing a career-high 33 in 2013-14, and he's had five seasons with at least 50 points.

During the Blues' miraculous playoff run last season, he played on the fourth line, but head coach Craig Berube has him and another 30-something veteran, Tyler Bozak, playing on the third unit with young centre Robert Thomas, the Blues' first-round pick in 2017.

The trio is just starting to get some rhythm after Steen was sidelined 16 games after suffering an ankle sprain in a Nov. 6 collision with the Edmonton Oilers.

"Celebrating it with all my friends and family, all the joy that comes with that. It was a wild ride last season and a really fun summer because of it." – Alexander Steen

"He missed some time but he's back and doing what he does well for us— defensively responsible and certainly has the capability to add some offence," said Berube.

"Moving (Robert Thomas) to centre, and having Bozak and Steener there, it's a lot of stability for a young centre. They've both been in the league a long time, they talk to him a lot and have really done a good job."

Steen is also a major contributor on the Blues' penalty kill — ranked fifth in the league — averaging 2:42 of shorthanded ice time each game (tops among St. Louis forwards). Overall, he averages about 14 minutes a night.

Berube calls him the consummate pro.

"Steener was a big part of us winning last year and I was extremely happy for him. He's been a great player in this league for a long time and he was rewarded," he said.

In 22 games, Steen has set up five goals but is still looking for his first tally of the year.

Steen has had 11 seasons with at least 15 goals, scoring a career-high 33 in 2013-14. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press files)

Steen has had 11 seasons with at least 15 goals, scoring a career-high 33 in 2013-14. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press files)

"I really felt good coming into the year and the team was going good, so it was tough to get a blow like that," he said. "But through the years that's one thing you learn, that stuff happens and injuries are out of your control. I took some time off, got healthy and just got back a few games ago."

A mention of 15 NHL seasons to the six-foot, 210-pound forward elicits a head shake.

"I know everybody says it, but it goes by super-fast. I remember everything that happened in my first year and it doesn't seem that long ago," said Steen, who had 18 goals and 45 points in his rookie season (2005-06) with the Leafs.

"You get to be this age and you appreciate everything about this game."

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

Read full biography

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