Wednesday Night Rivalry St. Louis Blues @ Chicago Black Hawks
October 13, 2016
Far be it from me to pre-referee this matchup but if last season’s Stanley Cup playoff series between these two long-time rivals is any indication it could develop into a rock-em-sock-em affair.
With David Backes moving on to the Boston Bruins over the summer some of the hostility and aggression should be diminished. The battle of team captains between Jonathan Toews and Backes provided an element of physicality in which neither player gave an inch. Jordin Tootoo of the Hawks is a guy to be aware of every time he is on the ice; usually taking advantage of opponents with long, late and often high hits. If that be the case I suspect Ryan Reaves for the Blues might be blowing than kisses in Tootoo’s direction tonight.
These two teams truly have a history of hatred for one another going back generations. The two cities are close enough geographically to make a Hawks Booster Club bus ride from The Windy City just long enough to inebriate the faithful following. In the old St. Louis Arena extra police were put on detail inside the building whenever the Hawks were the visitors. I saw some wicked fights in the crowd where police swarmed a whole section with ‘billy-clubs’ flailing to drag away and arrest the brawlers.
One game in particular that I remember, the puck went out of play as a riot was taking place in a lower section of the stands. Rather than line up for play all the players and the Officials stood at the glass and watched the Pier 6 Brawl. One guy in a Hawks jersey was holding his own with a pack of Blues fans. I was standing beside Blues Captain Brian Sutter and said, “Man look at that guy in the Hawks jersey fight.” Sutter, with that serious, no-smile expression on his face responded with, “I wonder if the Blues could trade for him. We could really use a guy like that!”
On another night in the Arena a line brawl took place. Big Steve Smith had been traded to the Hawks from the Oilers and as he looked for a dance partner Smith cut little Bobby Bassen out of the herd. Both of the Linesmen were tied up trying to separate other fights. I determined it might be best if I intervened to save Bassen from a much bigger opponent.
I got between Bassen and Smith with outstretched arms to keep them apart. In doing so I focused on Smith and was reading him the riot act as to what penalties he would incur if he attacked Bassen. The next thing I knew I was flying through the air after little Bobby Bassen chucked me aside with two hands on the back of my referee jersey. Bassen then went to work with both fists and ‘machine-gunned’ Smith’s face to a bloody pulp. I have to say that Bobby Bassen surprised both Steve Smith and me with his ability to fight and the speed of his hands that night.
Let’s see what the Rivalry brings tonight in Chicago?