On the first day of free agency, St. Louis Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong added a free agent forward Noel Acciari to the club on a one-year contract.
Acciari has played seven seasons in the NHL – the first four with the Boston Bruins (which included a matchup with the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final in 2019) 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 (2019-20) but dealt with a handful of injuries that limited him to just 20 regular-season games in 2021- 22, although he did return 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 of his new strength & conditioning coach, the controversial tripping (?) incident in Game 5, Netflix’s Stranger Things and a whole lot more.
STLOUISBLUES.COM: When free agency came around, why did the St. Louis Blues an attractive option for you?
NOEL ACCIARI: Just their unbelievable team. Hearing things from Torey (Krug) that just the core group 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 can.
BLUES: What did Krug tell you about playing here?
ACCIARI: He said everyone likes to have fun together and when it’s time to work, they all pull on the rope at the same time and just go in the right direction. I want to help pull on the rope with them. Playing against the Blues all these years, just seeing how good they are. I’m excited to be 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 tell them about the player they’re getting?
ACCIARI: I’m a heavy player. I’ll finish every check. I’ll do my best to block every shot in the D-zone. Anything I need to do to help the team, I’m gonna do. That’s the kind of player I am – I’ll stick up for guys, do whatever I need 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, anything – I’ll even drive the Zamboni if I need to. Wherever I am in the lineup, I’m going to bring the same game I do every night.
BLUES: We understand you were given the nickname “Cookie” when you joined the Florida Panthers. Tell us how that came about.
ACCIARI: Yeah, I got that nickname in Florida. Oreos are my cookie of choice, and while I don’t try to overdo it, I’d say I have four or five Oreos before a (pregame) nap, and then I have a great nap. Well when I had just signed there, I was a little upset that there weren’t any cookies in the pregame meal. So I got a little more upset than I probably should have and the nickname stuck.
BLUES: Do the strength and nutrition coaches know about this Oreo habit?
ACCIARI: Uh, I was hoping you wouldn’t bring this up because of that.
BLUES: Whoops, well let’s change the subject. What are you watching on Netflix right now?
ACCIARI: The obvious answer is I just finished Stranger Things. Basically all of my road trip shows – all of those shows my wife doesn’t want to watch – I have to catch up on those on the road. Any of the action stuff or something – I’m watching Terminal List with Chris Pratt on Amazon Prime, which is very good. That’s about it!
BLUES: What did you think of the latest season of Stranger Things?
ACCIARI: I loved it. I loved the fact that it’s still open for another season. I don’t know how they’re going to keep the kids that young, though! I thought it was one of the better seasons – especially Part 2 – even though it was only two episodes, it served its purpose and summed everything up.
BLUES: We know you from playing against the Boston Bruins obviously, but you’ve spent three seasons with the Florida Panthers since. How would you characterize your time with the Panthers?
ACCIARI: I think it was unbelievable. My first year as a Panther, I was able to play up in the lineup and produce and play with some top guys like (Jonathan) Huberdeau and (Vincent) Trocheck. It was a lot of fun. I thrive when people are confident in me and just have the confidence to put me out there. I gave everything I’ve got with every shift – it was great to feel appreciated. Overall, my time in Florida was great. I started a family there and just have good memories. Nothing but good memories there.
BLUES: Florida gave you some career highlight moments, too – you joined Huberdeau and Trocheck’s line 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?
ACCIARI: Yeah – being able to play with those big boys and being able to work with them and just have something happen to me like that, it’s something that doesn’t happen every day. I was very fortunate to have back-to-back hat tricks. That line stuck for a little bit and I think that month I had maybe 10 goals in the month of December or something like that – 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?
ACCIARI: The heaviness that they brought in every game in that series (stands out). There was no let down. I think every game we played them in that series, they were never out of it. You knew if you won a game, the next game they were coming back 10 times harder and pushed back. I just loved that push back and that never-quit attitude. They won the Stanley Cup, and again, it was a tough pill to swallow being that close. They played their hearts out and good for them, they won. But I’m hoping to help this year and do it all over again with these guys.
BLUES: We can’t talk about the 2019 Stanley Cup Final without mentioning “The Trip” in Game 5. Did Tyler Bozak trip you or did you just fall?
ACCIARI: Uh, yes he did. I’m not gonna say ‘no, he didn’t.’ That’s one thing you guys will learn about me – I don’t embellish anything. I’m going to play hard every shift. When I fall, it’s because someone flattened me. I’m not gonna fall on my own like that.
BLUES: Tell us about your family and how they’re feeling about the upcoming move to St. Louis.
ACCIARI: I have two kids – 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 Aug. 11. My wife is Kaitlyn. My little guy was ecstatic that I was joining the Blues. His favorite color is blue, and every time we’re playing hockey around the house, he says ‘Let’s Go Blues’ – so he’s all excited. My wife is excited, too – all the (Blues Better Halves) have reached out to her and have been great and they’re making her feel at home, which is awesome because it’s not always easy to drop everything and follow your husband around for work. They’ve been excellent with her in making things a lot easier. It’s been great!
BLUES: You’ve Worn No. 55 throughout your career, but that’s taken here. Why did you settle on No. 52?
ACCIARI: I can give you the funny answer for why I went with No. 52. Look up the MacKenzie Weegar / Noel Acciari story from Spittin’ Chiclets. I played a prank on Weegar, who was 52 in Florida. I basically told him since I was joining the Panthers as a free agent I was gonna take his No. 52. I said ‘I beat you up in a fight before, so I’m taking your number.’ I actually was at a wedding with Weeger this weekend, and I told him I finally got his No. 52 (in St. Louis). He was laughing about it.
BLUES: Anything else we should know about you? Maybe something we couldn’t find on Google?
ACCIARI: Nothing special really, no hidden talents or anything. I’m just a movie buff. I like to go catch up on movies, go watch one on the road, go see them in the cinema. I’m a big Marvel movie guy – so much so that my dog’s name is Thor.