By Brad Lee
Early in a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night, Blues tough guy D.J. King tried to enforce part of the unwritten code in the NHL. And Aaron Downey showed he's nothing but a gutless pussy.
Back on March 5 late in a game at Detroit with the Wings leading 4-1, things got chippy. Detroit's Tomas Kopecky limped off the ice after a hit by Jeff Woywitka. Downey immediately was sent on the ice and started banging on Blues players, apparently trying to send a message that he didn't like the hit. Woywitka is not known as a fighter, but fellow defenseman Matt Walker is. He did everything but take Downey's gloves off to try and get him to fight. And Downey wouldn't go. After the game, his mouth wouldn't stop.
"It's unfortunate what had to happen to Kopy, but I really don't think Jeff Woywitka had any intention of hurting Kopy because I know that kid, he's just a nice, little farm boy and he's soft as butter," Downey said. "I just went out there, kind of had a feeling I wasn't going to start anything, but I knew if I could suck one of the them in they'd at least come after me. It was kind of exciting for fans at the end of the game and kind of exciting for me."
But he didn't stop there.
"You never know, that could carry over to the next game, but I really don't think it's going to," Downey said. "By the time they get on the bus and to the airport they'll be all over this."
In other words Downey questioned the manhood of a Blues player by calling him soft as butter, wouldn't stand up for himself or his teammates during that game and then predicted that he wouldn't answer the bell the next game. And that's exactly what happened.
A chippy first-period didn't include a fight, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Blues winger D.J. King mixed it up with Detroit's Aaron Downey with both earning unsportsmanlinke conduct penalties. King tapped Downey on the shoulder before Downey returned to the bench, but Downey continued in to take a seat.
King and Downey were mouthing at each other, probably because Downey wouldn't agree to drop the gloves. As King followed Downey to the bench, Downey wouldn't even turn around. The two linesmen put up a roadblock for King making sure he couldn't get at the Wings' bench. Meanwhile right there next to the Wings' bench door, KMOX radio analyst and retired tough guy Kelly Chase was standing there staring a hole through Downey. He wasn't watching King, he only looked at Downey.
As the crowd dispersed, Downey leaned over the boards, looked towards King and then started doing what he does best: talking without backing it up. He played sparingly the rest of the game only logging nine shifts for 3:13 of ice time for the entire game. It will be interesting to see if Downey finds any courage playing at home Friday night when the Wings and Blues complete the home-and-home series.
Downey's actions (or inacation in this case) could be a sign that when faced with adversity in the playoffs, the Wings just might back down.