Thursday, February 9, 2012

February 8, 1996

An old rivalry, Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues.

BY Dave Luecking. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Feb 22, 1996.

The hook was baited and dangled in front of Tony Twist.

He refused to bite.

Try as the media might, they failed to get the Blues' enforcer to talk about renewing hostilities with Bob Probert in a grudge match against the Blackhawks tonight in Chicago.

"Let me tell you something," Twist said. "I would never, ever set a hook in my mouth for that. (Brian) Burke would be down on me so fast, then I'd have to come down and kick your butt."

The affable Twist was smiling when he said the latter, but he was serious when he spoke of the former. Burke, the National Hockey League's director of hockey operations and chief disciplinarian, has promised to deal harshly with acts of retribution between the Blues and Blackhawks.

Geoff Courtnall, now injured, upset the Hawks with a late hit on Jeremy Roenick in Chicago's 6-1 victory on Feb. 8 at Kiel Center. Roenick was knocked out on the play and suffered a fractured jaw.
Twist, meanwhile, has a score to settle as a result of a run-in with Probert early in the second period.
Twist prepared to check Probert along the boards, but Probert raised his right arm and hit Twist on the face. Referee Bill McCreary gave Probert a double-minor for high-sticking, and Burke tacked on a game suspension after the Blues protested.
The two had fought earlier in the game, with Twist pulling up after Probert suffered a skate cut on his right hand. Later, Probert declined a half-dozen offers from Twist "to go," as they say in hockey parlance.
After the game, Twist said that Probert hadn't seen the last of him. Will they go tonight?

"The fans might be talking about it, and the media might be talking about it, but that's up to those two players," Blues coach Mike Keenan said. "They have a lot of respect for each other."

On second thought, Keenan suggested the respect might be a one-way street.

"Tony showed a lot of respect by not going after Probert after Probert hurt his hand," Keenan said. "Probert showed no respect hitting Tony on the face with his stick after they came to a gentleman's agreement."

Probert, 30, had been the NHL's foremost heavyweight enforcer before drug and alcohol problems derailed his career. He sat out last season.
Twist, 27, aspires to be the NHL's top enforcer. He is unbeaten in fight s this season, and many NHL tough guys avoid him.
Probert and Twist downplayed the possibility of a fight.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Probert said.

Said Twist: "I will stay far away from that. The only quotes you'll get from me is, 'We're going to Chicago to win a hockey game.' Anything else in-between time is directed towards winning a hockey game."

But aren't fisticuffs a part of the game?

"Team first," Twist said. "Really, I couldn't be concerned with the other stuff. I don't think Chicago will be concerned with the other stuff, either.

"First of all, we have a hockey game to win. Second of all, it's not something that has to be dealt with now. It can be dealt down the line."

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