On the first day of free agency, the general manager of St. Louis Blues Doug Armstrong added a free agent forward Noel Acciari at the club with a one-year contract.
Acciari played seven seasons in the NHL – the first four with the Boston Bruins (which included a game with the Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final) and the last three with the Florida Panthers. The 30-year-old posted career highs in goals (20) and points (27) in his first season in Florida (2019-2020), but dealt with a handful of injuries that limited him to just 20 of regular-season games in 2021. 22, though he returned for nine of the Panthers’ 10 playoff contests.
We caught up with Acciari this week to discuss wearing the Blue Note, a nickname that might raise an eyebrow at his new strength and conditioning coach, the controversial tripping incident (?) in Game 5, Netflix’s Stranger Things and more others.
STLOUISBLUES.COM: When free agency hit, why was St. Louis Blues an attractive option for you?
NOEL ACCIARI: Just their incredible team. Hearing things from Torey (Krug) that just the core group out there and everyone is so close, I wanted to be a part of that. I know how good they are, how good they can be. I wanted to be a part of it and help in any way I could.
BLUES: What did Krug tell you about playing here?
SHARES: He said everyone likes to have fun together and when it’s time to work, they all pull the rope at the same time and just go in the right direction. I want to help pull the rope with them. Playing against the Blues all these years, just seeing how good they are. I’m excited to be a part of it.
BLUES: For Blues fans who don’t know much about you because you’ve spent your entire career in the Eastern Conference, what would you say about the player they’re getting?
SHARES: I’m a hard gamer. I will finish each check. I’m going to do my best to block every shot in the D zone. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to help the team. That’s the type of player I am – I’ll stick up for the boys, I’ll do whatever I have to do. I can play up and down the lineup, so whatever they need me for, I’ll be ready. I can play center, left wing, right wing, whatever – I’ll even drive the Zamboni if I need to. Wherever I’m in the lineup, I’m going to bring the same game that I do every night.
BLUES: We understand you were given the nickname “Cookie” when you joined the Florida Panthers. Tell us how that happened.
SHARES: Yeah, I got that nickname in Florida. Oreos are my favorite cookie, and while I’m not trying to exaggerate, I’d say I have four or five oreos before a nap (before the game) and then I have a great nap. Well, when I had just signed there, I was a little upset that there were no cookies in the pregame table. So I got a little more upset than I probably should have and the nickname stuck.
BLUES: Do strength and nutrition coaches know about this Oreo habit?
SHARES: I was hoping you wouldn’t talk about it because of that.
BLUES: Oops, let’s change the subject. What are you watching on Netflix right now?
SHARES: The obvious answer is that I just finished Stranger Things. Basically all my travel shows – all those shows my wife doesn’t want to watch – I have to catch up on the ones on the road. Any of the action stuff or anything – I’m watching The Terminal List with Chris Pratt on Amazon Prime, which is really good. That’s all!
BLUES: What did you think of the last season of Stranger Things?
SHARES: I liked. Loved the fact that it’s still open for another season. I don’t know how the kids will hold up so young though! I thought it was one of the best seasons – especially part 2 – even though it was only two episodes, it served its purpose and summed it up.
BLUES: We know you from the Boston Bruins game, but you’ve spent three seasons with the Florida Panthers since then. How would you characterize your time with the Panthers?
SHARES: I think it was unbelievable. My first year as a Panther, I got to line up and produce and play with some top guys like (Jonathan) Huberdeau and (Vincent) Trocheck. It was very fun. I thrive when people trust me and just have the confidence to put me out there. I give it my all at every shift – it was great to feel appreciated. Overall, our time in Florida was great. I raised a family there and have nothing but good memories. Nothing but good memories there.
BLUES: Florida also gave you some career highlights – you joined the line of Huberdeau and Trocheck and scored hat tricks in back-to-back games – the first time that’s happened for the Panthers since Pavel Bure did it in 2001. That was something, huh?
SHARES: Yeah, to be able to play with those big boys and work with them and have something like that happen to me, it’s something that doesn’t happen every day. I was very lucky to have consecutive hat-tricks. That streak stuck for a little bit and I think that month we had maybe 10 goals in December or something – crazy.
BLUES: About that 2019 Stanley Cup Final between the Blues and Bruins – what would you say about that series and what made the Blues so tough to play against?
SHARES: The weight they brought in every game in that series (stands out). There was no disappointment. I think every game we played them in that series, they never got out of it. You knew if you won a game, the next game they would come back 10 times harder and push back. I just loved that rejection and that never-give-up attitude. They won the Stanley Cup and again, it was a tough pill to swallow being so close. They played their hearts out and good for them, they won. But I hope to help out this year and do it all again with these guys.
BLUES: We can’t talk about the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals without mentioning “The Trip” in Game 5. Did Tyler Bozak trip you or did you just fall?
SHARES: Uh, yes, he did. I won’t say “no he didn’t”. This is one thing you will learn about me – I don’t sugar coat anything. I’m going to play hard every shift. When I fall, it’s because someone flattened me. I’m not going to fall alone like that.
BLUES: Tell us about your family and how they feel about the upcoming move to St. Louis.
SHARES: I have two children – a little boy who just turned two, his name is Greyson, and then I have a little girl, Sutton, who will be just four months old on August 11th. My wife is Kaitlyn. My little boy was delighted that I was joining the Blues. His favorite color is blue and every time we play hockey around the house he says “Let’s Go Blues” – so he’s excited. My wife is delighted too – they all (Blues Better Halves) have contacted her and they’ve been great and make her feel at home, which is great because it’s not always easy to drop everything and you follow your husband for work. They were excellent with her making things much easier. It was great!
BLUES: You’ve worn No. 55 throughout your career, but that’s taken here. Why did you decide on number 52?
SHARES: I can give you a funny answer for why I went with number 52. Check out MacKenzie Weegar / Noel Acciari story from Spittin’ Chiclets. I pranked Weegar, who was wearing 52 in Florida. I basically told him that since I was joining the Panthers as a free agent, I was going to take his number 52. I said ‘I beat you in a fight before, so I’m taking your number.’ I actually went to a wedding with Weeger this weekend and told him I finally got #52 (in St. Louis). He laughed at that.
BLUES: Anything else we should know about you? Maybe something I couldn’t find on Google?
SHARES: Nothing special, no hidden talents or anything. I’m just a movie buff. I like to watch movies, watch one on the way, see them at the cinema. I’m a big Marvel movie guy – so much so that my dog’s name is Thor.