Twist of Fate

This former St. Louis Blues star has skated on some thin ice since leaving the rink

Clad in a yellow, short-sleeved collared shirt, with his hair spiked, Twist puts down a couple pints of Jägermeister and Red Bull and pays by peeling off bills from a wad of cash. He then climbs into his diesel-powered 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 and makes a beeline for the Sidney Street Café, the type of upscale establishment he'd like to run someday.

"You've never been to Sidney Street? The food there is un-friggin'-believable. When you're in the restaurant business, to have a line of people waiting, on a freakin' Tuesday — are you kidding me?"

He saunters in and kisses the hand of the matronly female server. "Don't tell April about that time you and I slept together," he tells her.

"I've kept quiet all these years," she replies with a smile.

"You're so good at that. Thanks, babe."

Appetizers including dumplings and lobster turnovers are followed by Twist's entrée: snap peas, potatoes and carrots surrounding a wasabi-encrusted steak. "This isn't rare, it's veryrare," he says. "You gotta run it by the fire, wipe its ass, cut off its horns, and that's it right there."

After digestifs of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a ten-year-old tawny port, Twist takes a call from a buddy named Doug Bruno who's out on a first date with a bartender from Twister's Pub & Grill. Twist meets them back at Molly's, where they'll have a few cocktails.

Bruno, Twist's longtime riding buddy, tells the story of his own brutal accident. In 2002 he flipped his Ford after falling asleep at the wheel. Twist came to visit him regularly at St. Anthony's Hospital. He met Bruno's parents on one of those occasions and took the opportunity to share some uncomfortably personal details of his own ordeal.

"He talked about how he flipped over the car and, when he came to, realized that he's naked from the waist down," recalls Bruno. "And he looks at my mom and says, 'That would be OK, if I was hung like a horse.'

"My dad goes, 'Would you like some coffee? I'll go get some coffee while you guys talk.'"

"My dad cares nothing about sports, fucking zero," Bruno continues as Twist gets up to use the bathroom. "But after meeting Tony in the hospital, he's watching Channel 11, every hockey game to see if Tony's on there. They ask me about him, always."

When Twist returns, he's uncharacteristically silent for a few minutes as he leans back on the heels of his chair. His relaxed demeanor calls to mind Jeff Bridges' character in 1998's The Big Lebowski, the Dude, who manages to maintain an improbable calm, despite a steady swirl of adversity.

Unlike the Dude, however, Twister relishes confrontation, be it fighting for his name in court or confronting disrespectful bar patrons. The only thing he craves more is attention, which is why he gladly suffers autograph hounds — even those who are continually interrupting his nights on the town.

"I enjoy it," he says, after signing a napkin for a young woman. "Why wouldn't you? You go out one day, and people don't want your autograph. What does that say about you?"

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