For the past 12 years, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith have been teammates on the Chicago Blackhawks, and for 11 of those years Toews has been the captain and Keith an alternate captain. During that time Chicago's top center and top defenseman have been through it all: three Stanley Cups, two losses in the Conference Finals, four first-round playoff exits and two postseason absences, which have come in the last two years. Somehow, they've managed to not get on each other's nerves over this timeframe, at least not that we know about.
That was until Tuesday morning, when reports of Toews, 31, and Keith, 36, getting into a fight at the team's optional morning skate hit social media. The Athletic's Mark Lazerus was one of the reporters on the scene:
Naturally, the internet hoped for video of the incident, and it got its wish just over an hour later. Sierra Santos of FOX 32 Chicago posted this clip, in which we only see the very end of the fracas between Toews and Keith, followed by Toews and Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton's comments on the situation:
"A nice little friendly wrestling," Toews said. "We're ready to go, it's a big game tonight. I think that's the whole point of coming out for morning skate, to get yourself ready to go for tonight's game. I think we're ready now."
As Lazerus tweeted, that hardly looked like nothing, though we don't know what happened before Toews had Keith bear-hugged down on the ice. Here's another clip from after the fight:
Love that they both strap their helmets back on and hop right back in line. Nothing to see here. Keep it moving boys.
Toews is right about Tuesday's game being a big one. The Blackhawks are currently three points out of the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, and they'll welcome in the Florida Panthers to the United Center Tuesday night. The Panthers are currently third in the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division, just three points away from overtaking Tampa Bay for the second spot in the division. Safe to say both teams will be treating this one as a must-win.
The teammate-on-teammate fight is not all that uncommon in the NHL, and it usually produces good results. Don't believe us? Remember when St. Louis Blues teammates Robert Bortuzzo and Zach Sanford got into a scuffle last December?
How'd that work out for the Blues? Oh, that's right, they won the Stanley Cup. At the time of the fight St. Louis was 10-14-4, and just over a month later they had climbed back to .500 and eventually finished the year 45-28-9 before raising the Cup. In other words, the Blackhawks are probably going to win the Cup now. As of this writing, they are 80-to-1 to hoist Lord Stanley. Just saying.