Extra Points: Think Your Business Can’t Be Turned Around? Take a Look at the St. Louis Blues (and Play ‘Gloria’)


Jessica Massey
Marketing & Sales Operations Analyst
June 14, 2019
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Pointman’s Extra Points series highlights lessons in leadership inspired by today’s headlines.

TAKEAWAY: The St. Louis Blues went from “worst-to-first,” and the team’s success offers some useful lessons for business owners who are struggling.

There is no greater inspirational story than the unexpected rise from “worst-to-first.” Think the Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn-led Cleveland Indians in “Major League” (NOT my favorite movie) or the 2018 Chicago Bears. Or, look at Wednesday’s Stanley Cup victory by the St. Louis Blues.

“Math says a team in the NHL’s cellar halfway through the season shouldn’t be playing in June, and superstition says the Blues are never allowed to compete this long,” wrote Sports Illustrated following the team’s game seven win over Boston. “This year’s team was very bad, on pace to be one of the worst in franchise history, and instead of coasting into the postseason as so many past iterations have, it clawed.”

From late January until season’s end, the Blues posted a stunning 24-6-4 record, stomped into the playoffs, and plowed through Winnipeg, Dallas, San Jose and, finally, the Bruins.

So … if a hockey team can do it, how about a business? It happens, and often. As Fast Company reported in 2015, sometimes these comebacks are large — Apple, CBS. But they can also be smaller-scale triumphs, in your own community.

If you’re running a home services business that is struggling and don’t see a way you can become the envy of your competitors, think again. Here’s how the Blues did it — and how the team’s success can inspire your own business plan.

Ryan O'Reilly helped the St. Louis Blues move from dead last in January to a Stanley Cup victory in June. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Strong Leadership — Even When It Hurts

Buffalo, NY, is my home but I’m a Capitals fan, so I have no problem saying that the Blues' Stanley Cup victory would not have happened without former Sabre Ryan O’Reilly. The winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP did not just tie for the postseason scoring lead and net clutch goal after clutch goal — he did so with a cracked rib.

“It really has rubbed off on our team in a lot of ways to see his work ethic,” coach Craig Berube said after the Blues’ 4-2 win Monday. “He’s been maybe our best consistent player all year.”

O’Reilly famously spoke of losing his love of the game during his time in Buffalo. But his perseverance as a member of the Blues was downright inspiring. As his teammates stated, his leadership even during the team’s darkest regular season moments helped keep them on track.

When your business is at its lowest point, your employees are watching you for your reactions. Show them you are confident — even when it’s hard to feel that way — and they’ll follow your lead.  

Finding Ways to Move Beyond Failure

The Blues failed to win a Cup over the course of 51 seasons. Berube — who is still being called the “interim coach” for some reason — failed as head coach of the Flyers. O’Reilly was coming off a soul-crushing year as a Sabre. And goalie Jordan Binnington failed to even crack the team’s roster in training camp.

But the franchise, the coach, and its players were motivated to move beyond those failures. If you can’t accept failure and move forward, long-term success will always be out of reach. It’s not easy to do, but the results can be extraordinary.

You Gotta Believe

After game seven, Binnington was asked for the “moral of the story” regarding his Cinderella-story season: “Believe in yourself. That's all I can say, right?”

Believing in oneself, and in one’s team, during the toughest moments requires positive thinking and emotional intelligence. And for the Blues, the tough moments did not end after making the playoffs: “The Blues travelled arguably the most difficult path in the playoffs, erasing three consecutive series deficits before shelving the disappointment of surrendering the chance to win the franchise’s maiden Stanley Cup in front of their own fans to beat the Bruins in Game 7.”

Belief is contagious. If you stop believing in your vision when at your lowest point, how will your team feel?

Last but not least ...

Play “Gloria.”

Seriously. Playing Laura Branigan’s early 80s hit worked for the Blues. OK, your team might get a tad sick of hearing “Gloria” on an endless loop during their morning routines, but you go with what works, right?

With the right leadership and proper self-belief, you can become the envy of your competitors. Just like Ryan O’Reilly and the Blues.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Caps highlights from 2018 ...

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