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Retired Numbers

Bernie Federko #24
Position: C
Height: 6-0
Weight: 195
Shoots: Left
Born: Aug 12, 1956, Foam Lake, Sask.
Drafted: St. Louis' first round pick, 7th overall, in the 1976 Amateur Draft

Being a hockey superstar is a lot like opening a successful restaurant. Location is key to success. Bernie Federko can attest to that. The brilliant center spent 14 seasons with the St. Louis Blues and amassed numbers that would dominate media coverage in markets like New York, Montreal, Chicago, or Toronto.

Despite scoring 1,130 points in 1,000 games and another 101 in 91 career playoff games, Federko is the Rodney Dangerfield of the National Hockey League.

"Sometimes I feel cheated," Federko says. "Like when I go to Canada and walk through the sporting goods stores and see sticks and jerseys endorsed with the names of some players. A lot of those people haven’t done much, but because of where they play, they’re a big name in Canada.

In 1986, a poll conducted by GOAL magazine named Federko as the most overlooked talent in hockey. But much has changed since. Federko was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

Federko is a legend in St. Louis, where he does television color commentary for Blues games during the season.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Federko was the Blues’ first choice (seventh overall) in the 1976 Amateur Draft. Through the late 1970s and the entire decade of the 80s, Federko dazzled the hometown crowd with his playmaking wizardry. He was the most consistent player in the history of the Blues and could be counted upon to continue his dominance during the playoffs, despite tougher scrutiny by opposing teams.

"A great playmaker," former Blues general manager Ron Caron says to Federko. "He makes the average or above average player look like a star at times. He’s such an unselfish player."

The area between the net and the backboards became known as "Bernie’s Office" because of the way Federko would set up shop and dangle the puck, waiting for a teammate to move into position. Then, just as he’d brace himself to take a hit, he’d gently slide the puck onto the stick of his target and then raise his stick into the air while watching it find the back of the net. Just another day at the office…

"Bernie is an innovator because he’s one of the first to make use of that area of the ice," says Caron. "Controlling play from behind the net puts pressure on the defense and causes them to leave their positions."

Former Blues goaltender Mike Liut once called him "the quintessential center."

Leading a rush into an opposing zone, Federko wasn’t one to overpower defensemen with strength or blow past them with speed or dazzling moves. Instead, he used his great vision and patience to set up the offense. Former Blues coach Jacques Demers, under whom Federko played some of his best hockey, called him his "general on the ice."

While Federko was a general through his play, his longtime linemate and friend during the 80s was captain Brian Sutter. The duo combined to score over 700 goals during regular season and playoffs during their career and anchored the Blues during tumultuous times. Ownership changed hands three times during their tenure, but the many distractions and the near folding of the franchise in 1983 never caused Federko to lose focus.

Federko was also resilient, missing just 60 games during his career. Combined regular season and playoffs, Federko had 404 goals and 832 assists for 1,236 points in 1,091 games.

The love affair with the Blues ended in 1989, when he was dealt to the Detroit Red Wings for Adam Oates and Paul MacLean. Federko was reunited with Demers, who left the Blues to coach at Detroit, but Federko retired after one season with the Wings.