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Honored Numbers

Doug Wickenheiser #14
Position: C/LW
Height: 6-1
Weight: 196
Shoots: Left
Born: Mar. 30, 1961, Regina, Sask.
Drafted: By Montreal in the first round, 1st overall in the 1980 Amateur Draft

Before 1983, Doug Wickenheiser was a man adrift. Scorned and abused by fans in Montreal after he was chosen first overall in the 1980 draft, Wickenheiser never could live up to the enormous expectations. The fans had hoped the Canadians would draft hometown hero Denis Savard, a multi-talented centerman who would go on to earn a berth in the Hockey Hall of Fame after a stellar career with the Chicago Blackhawks.

In 1983, Wickenheiser’s life changed in a big way. The Blues, in their first season under the new ownership of Harry Ornest, dealt popular left winger Perry Turnbull to Montreal for Wickenheiser, right winger Greg Paslawski and defenseman Gilbert Delorme.

Ron Caron, hired as general manager of the Blues that summer when owner Harry Ornest rescued the franchise from nearly folding, made the deal. He knew Wickenheiser well. It was Caron who drafted Wickenheiser three years earlier in Montreal after Wickenheiser scored 89 goals and 170 points for the Regina Pats of the Western (Junior A) Hockey League.

The pressure gone, the man known as "Wick" asserted himself nicely with the Blues and his sharp wit made him a favorite with teammates and fans in St. Louis.

Wickenheiser never came close to reaching the scoring heights of his junior years, but he became an important part of the Blues at Center and left wing. He was a standout defensive player who was excellent on faceoffs. His best season was 1984-85 when he scored 23 goals and 43 points in 68 games.

A serious knee injury that resulted when he was struck by a car during a team outing put Wickenheiser at the crossroads. The 6-foot-1, 200 pounder showed his strength and determination in coming back from what many feared was a career ending reconstructive surgery. Wickenheiser missed almost a full year, but came back strong in 1985-86 with 19 points in the final 36 games.

That set the stage for the playoffs, where Wickenheiser would provide perhaps the most dramatic moment in Blues history. Facing elimination in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup semi-finals series against the Calgary Flames, Wickenheiser scored in overtime to cap a seemingly insurmountable comeback and lifted the Blues to a 6-5 victory over the Flames at The Arena.

The victory tied the series at three games apiece, but the Blues lost a heartbreaking seventh game at Calgary two nights later that would have put them in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1970. In 19 playoff games, Wickenheiser had two goals and seven points.

Wickenheiser played in all 80 games for the Blues the following season, but he was left unprotected in the waiver draft prior to the 1987-88 season and was claimed by the Vancouver Canucks. Brief stints with the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals ended Wickenheiser’s 10-year NHL career.

That career produced 111 goals, 165 assists and 276 points, plus 11 points in 41 career playoff games.

The story didn’t end there, however. Wickenheiser came back to St. Louis after hanging up his skates to start a family. He and his wife Dianna had three girls, the latter two twins, and opened a nursery and frozen custard business in St. Peters.

Then came the unthinkable. In August of 1994, Wickenheiser developed a cyst on his wrist and had surgery to remove it. It turned out to be a rare form of cancer that returned three years later in his lung. The cancer was inoperable, but Wickenheiser, as he had done so many times during his career, tried to fight back and beat the odds. The outpouring of prayer, love and affection from the community and hockey people all over North America wasn’t enough to help Wick win the battle.

He succumbed to cancer on January 12, 1999 at the age of 37. The Blues established the Fourteen Fund as their charitable trust which features a special logo of a lit candlewick with the number 14 above the flame. Wickenheiser wore No. 14 for Blues and the banner hangs nearby retired Blues numbers from the rafters inside the Scottrade Center.