Chicago Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith raised eyebrows Tuesday morning when they started scrapping during the team's morning skate, according to The Athletic's Mark Lazerus.
"Just some friendly wrestling," Toews told Lazerus after the skate had ended. He did not offer any further insight to what may have set the longtime teammates against each other.
"That's the whole point of a morning skate, to get you ready for the game," he added. "We're ready now."
Lazerus, who described the tussle as somewhere between an all-out brawl and a friendly shoving match, reported that Toews had Keith pinned down on the ice and most of his jersey off before Chicago assistant coach Sheldon Brookbank broke up the fight.
The tail end of what appeared to be a, um, physical disagreement between Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith.— Jimmy Greenfield (@jcgreenx) January 21, 2020
I didn’t see what precipitated it and can’t say if it was real but sure looked real. pic.twitter.com/77ZcWnk5ZG
The Blackhawks went back to their usual morning-skate routine after the incident in preparation for their home game against the Florida Panthers. Whatever the reason for the incident, nobody surrounding the team appeared all too concerned: Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner responded to Lazerus' original tweets praising Toews and Keith's competitive spirits. Chicago head coach Jeremy Colliton likened the scrap to two brothers fighting.
Colliton, smiling: "You got a brother? I do, too. And I've got two boys at home. I've seen that movie before."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 21, 2020
Toews, the Blackhawks' captain and Keith, an alternate captain, have been teammates since Toews entered the league as a 19-year-old in 2007.
Chicago's matchup with the Panthers happens to be former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville's return to the United Center; both teams are on five-game winning streaks entering Tuesday's game.