Greater Trail’s connection with the St. Louis Blues runs deep and illustrious.
And it all began with the team’s first game back in 1967.
Legendary Trail Smoke Eater goaltender Seth Martin got the start when the Blues made its NHL debut back on Oct. 11, 1967.
The then-34-year-old Martin signed with St. Louis as a free agent. Hall of Fame goaltender Glenn Hall was the Blues first pick in the expansion draft but was injured prior to the opener. Martin stopped 30 shots as the Blues tied the Minnesota North Stars 2-2.
In Martin’s only season with the Blues he appeared in 30 games and posted a 2.59 goals against average. He also appeared in two playoff games as the Blues made their first of three straight Stanley Cup final appearances.
Martin’s role with the Blues was the start of a connection between Trail and the NHL franchise.
Another member of that original roster was Bob Plager, who had his number 5 jersey retired in a ceremony in 2017. But before it was retired it was worn proudly by Fruitvale native Barret Jackman for 13 seasons.
Jackman, who was drafted in the first round of the 1999 draft, ended up winning the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in 2002-03. He went to play 803 games with the team, second most in franchise history. His 1,026 penalty minutes are fourth all-time for the Blues.
Jackman appeared in one game during the 2001-02 season but it was notable from a Trail point of view.
He was one of three Home of Champions products on the roster that season.
Ray Ferraro played the last of his 1,258 NHL games with the Blues before announcing his retirement. He played in only 15 games with St. Louis but still managed six goals and 10 points.
The year before Ferraro’s arrival, St. Louis signed Rossland native Dallas Drake as a free agent. Drake went on to a solid six-year stint in St. Louis including two seasons as the team captain. He produced 170 points during his stay with the Blues. When he left the team he was 10th in team history with eight shorthanded goals.
If that wasn’t enough of a link, there’s another. Rossland native Brian McMeekin, who played with affiliated player Jackman on the Smokies in 1996-97, was drafted by the Blues in the 1999 NHL draft.
You can even add Castlegar native Steve Bozek to the mix. He played briefly with the Blues in 1987-88 season.