Sometimes, though fights take on a level of mythos that goes past brawl or skirmish. Sometimes they turn into massacres. The Blues and Blackhawks had one of those on March 17th, 1991. The St. Patrick’s Day Massacre was a byproduct of two heated rivals fighting for the top of the Norris Division and the league itself all season long. Something was going to break at some point, and when it did, the whole dam went with it.
The Blues were down 1-0 in the first period when Jeremy Roenick laid a hit on Harold Snepsts that Glen Featherstone took exception to. Keith Brown stepped in when Featherstone went after the Blackhawks’ star forward, so Kelly Chase and Darin Kimble decided to take matters into their own hands. The Blues had the Blackhawks outmanned, which worked to their detriment when the entire checking line got the boot for the rest of the game, along with Rod Brind’Amour. Hawks’ players Michel Goulet and Trent Yawney were also saddled with game misconducts and removed.
By the second period, the Blues were down 4-2. Steve Larmer high-sticked Gino Cavallini and was given five minutes and a game misconduct, which on any other night would’ve been the perfect chance for the Blues to get right back into the game. Instead, the Blues got right back into a brawl. Mike Keenan encouraged his guys - nine of them to be accurate - to start a line brawl with the already angry Blues. Dave Manson and Scott Stevens were the main event, having some unresolved issues from the evening before (and season before - it was alleged that Manson bit Stevens while Stevens went for Manson’s eyes in one tussle). Manson wrestled Stevens to the ice eventually, cutting Stevens in the process, but Stevens wound up on top both literally and figuratively.
Also on top was Jeff Brown - on top of Wayne Prestley behind the goal. The refs seemed distracted by more pressing matters, so they let that one lie.
Six additional players skated off that night with game misconduct penalties on top of what had already been issued: Stevens and Featherstone for the Blues and Manson, Steve Grimson, and Mike Peluso for the Hawks.
The box score from the night is wild. The third period’s 12 penalty minutes stand in stark contrast to the first and second periods’ tallies. All in all, 278 penalty minutes were handed out: 17 misconducts, 24 minors and 12 majors.
The Hawks went on to win the game 6-4, so it’s not like this matchup was one of the great victories in the Blues’ history. Honestly, it stands as a metaphor for much of the rivalry’s existence - the scrappy Blues wouldn’t back down, but also never quite climbed that hill. But by God, they held their own.
Fighting hasn’t been glorified in hockey for a while and line brawls like this one would not be allowed - the refs did as good of a job as they could corralling everyone here but if this were to happen today, they’d be roundly criticized for “allowing” much of the conflict to happen. We all have our own viewpoints on how the game has changed and whether the good old days were good or not.
Fans of both teams may never see a yard sale like this one again, but if people need a reminder of how deep and strong the hatred between the two teams runs, this is a good starting point.