Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Tie Jets 3-3 in Final Warmup Keenan Makes Debut Behind the Bench

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Tie Jets 3-3 in Final Warmup Keenan Makes Debut Behind the Bench

Article excerpt

Depending on the outcome of labor negotiations in Toronto, Mike Keenan's first game behind the Blues' bench might have been more than the Blues' final dress rehearsal of the National Hockey League preseason.

It might have been the Blues' last game in a while.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has threatened to postpone the start of the season, scheduled for Saturday, if a new collective bargaining agreement is not in place by then. The players have played without a collective agreement since Sept. 15, 1993, and reported to training camp despite 19 takebacks instituted by Bettman.

One of the major issues in negotiations is the financial health of the small-market franchises, and fans in this small market let it be known Monday night that their sympathy is not with the players.

They booed the Blues and the Winnipeg Jets during their solidarity handshake before the teams skated to a 3-3 tie in the Blues' final preseason game.

Keenan wasn't a big fan of the pregame handshake.

When asked what he thought of it, he said, "Not much. I'd prefer not to see it. We're here to play the game, and it's not part of the athletic presentation as far as I'm concerned."

But Keenan had no problem with the way either team played.

"They were competing," he said. "They competed well in a preseason game in this environment."

Some of the Blues preformed better than others. Peter Stastny, who will be on the Blues' protected list for the waiver draft, had a goal and an assist. Esa Tikkanen also had a goal and an assist. Defenseman Bill Houlder scored his second goal of preseason. Vitali Prokhorov added two more assists to give him a team-high 10 assists and 12 points in the preseason. And goalie Curtis Joseph stopped 39 shots as the Blues' lapsed in and out defensively.

"We saw some good things," Keenan said. "I wasn't surprised with Peter Stastny's performance, and Esa played a great game. …

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