1967 - St. Louis Blues Team Formation
The Blues were one of the six teams added to the NHL in the 1967 expansion, along with the Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and California Seals.
St. Louis was the last of the six expansion teams to gain entry into the league, chosen over Baltimore at the insistence of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were owned by the influential Wirtz family of Chicago, which also owned the decrepit St. Louis Arena. The Wirtzes sought to unload the Arena, which had not been well-maintained since the 1940s, and thus pressed the NHL to give the franchise to St. Louis, which had not submitted a formal expansion bid. NHL President Clarence Campbell said during the 1967 expansion meetings that “we want a team in St. Louis because of the city’s geographical location and the fact that it has an adequate building.” The team’s first owners were insurance tycoon Sid Salomon Jr., his son, Sid Salomon III, and Robert L. Wolfson, who were granted the franchise in 1966. Sid Salomon III convinced his initially wary father to make a bid for the team. Former St. Louis Cardinals great Stan Musial and Musial’s business partner Julius “Biggie” Garagnani were also members of the 16-man investment group that made the initial formal application for the franchise. Garagnani would never see the Blues’ franchise take the ice, as he passed away from a heart attack on June 19, 1967, less than three months before the Blues’ played their first preseason game. Upon acquiring the franchise in 1966, Salomon then spent several million dollars on massive renovations for the 38-year-old Arena, which increased the number of seats from 12,000 to 15,000.