There’s nothing like some good, honest hockey violence to stir the soul and piss off the peaceniks.
The picture above shows just another in the ongoing saga of one of the nastiest, meanest hockey feuds in history that began in New York and carried on for years, with this one being in Toronto. It involved the Canadiens’ Ken Reardon and the Rangers and then Leafs’ Cal Gardner, and even carried on for years after. If you’re not crazy about fighting, you might want to go to another one of my posts like when I went to the Atlantic City Pop Festival or something equally serene. Because this post isn’t for you.
The Habs were in New York, and with about thirty seconds left in the game, Gardner crosschecked Reardon in the mouth and Reardon lost a couple of teeth and was cut on the lip for about twenty stitches. Emile Bouchard hit Brian Hextall over the head with his stick and Hextall and Bouchard proceeded to pound each other a bunch of times. Then Reardon said some bad words and some guy sitting behind the bench yelled that he shouldn’t swear because his girlfriend was with him, so Rocket Richard hit the fan over the head with his stick and blood was all over the place.
Reardon was not impressed with what Gardner had done to his Hollywood good looks and told a reporter that before he quit hockey he was going to get Gardner. And although he swore it was an accident, he later on “accidentally” broke Gardner’s jaw on both sides in Montreal after Gardner had been traded to the Leafs.
The feud and the fights continued for years. In the above photo, the two lovebirds show some little playfulness at Maple Leaf Gardens. That’s Leaf captain Ted Kennedy on the left and Montreal’s Doug Harvey on the right along with the combatants, and the referee is Bill Chadwick, who just recently passed away.
Ken Reardon went on to become Frank Selke’s right-hand man in Montreal’s front office. Gal Gardner eventually retired from pro hockey in 1961 and played senior hockey in Orillia for awhile. I remember seeing him play when I was a kid. If I had known then that Gardner wasn’t very nice to a Montreal Canadien player, I might have thrown a hot dog at him.