On Saint Patrick’s Day 1991, the Blackhawks and the Blues met at the Chicago Stadium for a late season Norris Division clash. Many people consider this event the peak of the vicious rivalry between Chicago and St. Louis. The teams had met in the three previous postseasons, and were two of the best and roughest teams in the league.
Tempers would boil over during the ensuing 60 minutes, resulting in one of the most brutal series of brawls in modern NHL history.
The highlight of the whole event is obviously Dave Manson calling out Scott Stevens to fight one-on-one at center ice. Manson proceeded to kick the ish out of Stevens while the entire crowd went nuts. Another great image was coaches Brian Sutter and Mike Keenan having a fiery argument at the benches mid-brawl.
The two teams would combine for 276 penalty minutes. The multiple fights included a wide range of characters. For St. Louis: Harold Snepsts, Scott Stevens, Kelly Chase, and Glen Featherstone among others. And for the Hawks: Dave Manson, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Peluso, Michel Goulet, and Steve Larmer to name a few.
I wasn’t there, obviously, but two people very close to me were in attendance that night. My Dad and Godfather were there, and were kind enough to share their firsthand account of what happened.
Dad: “Because it was St. Pat’s Day the place was sold out. The Stadium was electric. Getting the free green St. Patrick’s Day hats was great too. On top of all that, we were playing the hated Blues. Something had to let loose… It did. Old-time hockey, and a good ole donnybrook for sure. Manson, a fan favorite, calling out Scott Stevens and kicking his ass. The crowd kept roaring with each scrap. Like an encore at a concert.”
Uncle Bono: “Back in those days, as is true today, the Blackhawks and Blues were bitter rivals. The moment that stands out is when Manson called Stevens out to center ice. I remember watching Manson stalk Stevens during the other craziness, but they finally both skated out to center ice to be the main attraction. I distinctly remember jabbing your dad’s arm and exclaiming ‘Manson and Stevens center ice!’ At that same moment all the other players stopped their fights and watched. It was center stage. Stevens got a couple in throughout the fight, but I believe Manson pummled him. My favorite hockey fight of all time!”
The Blackhawks ended up winning the game 6-4, eventually clinching the 1991 Presidents’ Trophy. All of the stats from the game itself (goals, assists, individual penalty minutes) can be found here.
The St. Patrick’s Day Massacre is still one of the most memorable and defining moments in franchise history. It epitomizes what Blackhawks hockey was like back in that era.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!