How Jon Hamm got behind the TV mic and became the Blues’ good-luck charm against Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Caliph. – Of course, nothing was scripted when celebrity Blues fan Jon Hamm walked into the Bally’s Sports Midwest booth Sunday night and the team scored four goals.

As Hamm told The Athletic at the JW Marriott later in the evening, it wasn’t even planned that he would visit with announcers John Kelly and Darren Pang during the game.

“I watched the first period thinking ‘Why are we down 2-0? This is crazy. We’re completely dominating this game, and (Anaheim) has two shots and two goals. This is nuts! ” Hamm said. “But I thought we had a shot to come back.”

Then, Blues vice president of media relations Mike Caruso asked Hamm if he would stop by the booth.

“Mike was like, ‘C’mon, come up and hang out with Panger and JK,'” Hamm said. “I’ve known Panger for a long time, JK as well, and I was like, ‘I’d love to.’ It’s fun for me. ”

So early in the second period, Hamm went to the top floor of the Honda Center. He walked into the Bally’s booth, stood in the middle of Pang and Kelly, and at first, they didn’t notice him.

“When we’re calling the game, you know, I’m focused like Darren,” Kelly said. “All of a sudden, I see someone out of the corner of my eye to my right, and it’s Jon. So I said, ‘Oh, there’s Jon Hamm’s favorite player, Ivan Barbashev.’ But at that time, Panger still didn’t know he was there. “

“I had no idea,” Pang said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, you’re right John, he loves Barbashev.’ Probably 30 seconds later, Jon puts his arm around me, and I’m like, ‘Hammer, what’s going on!’ ”

The three started chatting, and in the span of 6 minutes, 53 seconds, the Blues scored four goals for a 4-2 lead in what turned out to be a 6-3 victory over Anaheim, keeping them in the race for second place in the Central Division.

“We said,‘ Let’s drum up some luck. They’re only down 2-0, maybe they’ll score a goal, ‘”Hamm said. “And then they scored four. It was literally every time we would call somebody’s name, they’d score a goal. ”


The first belonged to Jordan Kyrou.

After Anaheim goalie John Gibson stopped the first 20 shots he saw from the Blues, Kyrou finally got the puck past him. But it happened in bizarre fashion, with his shot being deflected by the Ducks’ Urho Vaakainen and going off his teammate, Adam Henrique.

“It was such an odd goal, in that, when Kyrou shot it, it was almost a changeup,” Kelly said.

“But the look on Jon’s face when it went in, he was like, ‘Here we go!'” Pang said. “His focus and his energy on the game, it’s like he’s willing the puck to go into the net. That was the energy he brought to the booth.

“It was a little bit of a fluky goal, but it was like, ‘Good! That was what we needed. We needed one of those dirty, grimy goals. ”

It was 2-1, 7:29 into the second period.

Then just over a minute later, on the Blues ’next shot attempt, it was 2-2 after a point-shot by Blues defenseman Niko Mikkola was in off Vladimir Tarasenko for his 34th goal of the season.

“It was 1:08 after (Kyrou’s goal),” Hamm said. “I know because I was watching Panger and John pass notes. I was literally like, ‘Is this happening?’ Two goals, now we’re tied. ”

You hear Hamm on the broadcast say that he can’t leave the booth at that point.

“So I started talking,” he said. “I’ve got more stories to tell. I’ve got more movies to promote. But we’re just laughing, and it’s like, ‘OK, this is funny.’ But then you’re like, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if it kept going?’ ”

“You want to engage him, but at the same time, there’s a hockey game going on,” Kelly said.

The Blues’ Logan Brown had a shot on net that was stopped by Gibson. But then on the team’s next chance, Barbashev scored on a net-front feed from Kyrou.

Hamm had just called Barbashev a “spark plug” for the team, and seconds later, he scored the club’s third goal in a stretch of four shots for a 3-2 Blues lead.

“We’re laughing because it was so stupid,” Hamm said. “There’s no way that that should happen, and yet it did. Of course, it should happen because Barby is a real hard worker and he makes things happen.

“If people are hockey fans, or readers of The Athletic, and they don’t get why Barby is a really good addition to any team, then they’re really not paying attention. He reminds me a lot of Alexander Steen. He will play any role that you need him to play and he will do it with gusto. I said he had a career year and then he scored a goal. ”

Pang lost it, laughing hysterically – “Oh, I can’t help myself,” he said – and as many know, his laughter is infectious.

“It’s so real,” Hamm said. “When you’re talking on the air about stuff, there’s an attitude that you have to have. ‘OK, this is my voice.’ But then when something crazy happens, that all goes out the window, and that’s exactly what it was. JK, too, same deal, it was funny. ”

If they were laughing then, just think about 2:01 later when Faulk scored for a 4-2 lead.

“I actually blew the call – I did,” Kelly said. “I said it was (David) Perron because I’m looking at Jon and Darren. I’m not making excuses, but the puck is on the far wall, it’s a right shot and the puck goes in the net, and I think it’s Perron. “

But Kelly quickly corrected himself and said it was Faulk.

“Unreal,” Hamm said. “I mean, I barely had any time to react and recover from the last one and then Faulk, who, by the way, is having a month. What a pickup he was! Watching him recently, he’s every bit as scary as any offensive-minded defenseman I’ve seen in the NHL. And he’s got an unbelievable beautiful flow. ”

At that point, the Blues were flowing, and Hamm’s phone was blowing up.

“Oh my God, everybody I knew was like,‘ Please stay there. Don’t leave! ” he said. “I was like, ‘We’re fine!'”

The actor eventually left the booth, and somehow the Blues still managed to score two goals without his help.

It was a night to remember.

“As Jon said to me, ‘You couldn’t have scripted this in a million years, the way it happened, in a span of 20 minutes,'” Kelly said. “To me, it’s so cool for us as hockey announcers to get to know a guy who’s a megastar, who loves the Blues as much as us, and to have the opportunity to participate in broadcasting a game with him during those moments that become really magical. It’s a big thrill. ”

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong had one request for Hamm afterward.

“Army was like, ‘So, you’re going to come to Minnesota?'” Said Hamm, referencing the Blues’ first-round playoff matchup with the Wild. “Unfortunately, I’ve got a job, and I have to, like, do it. I have to be on the road.

“But I will definitely be tuning in. I have a text thread with some of the guys on the team, so I’ll be checking in with them. I’m cautiously confident. They’re a good team. They’re going to scare some people. I can’t wait for the playoffs! ”

(Top photo courtesy of the St. Louis Blues)

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