Boys Will Be Boys. Sticks Landing On Heads And All That

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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.

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9 thoughts on “Boys Will Be Boys. Sticks Landing On Heads And All That”

  1. Hey Dennis;I think this kind of play carried on into the seventies and eighties,remember the Flyers going up into the stands?I think that this inspired alot of teams to do the same thing as this was going on in the minor leagues as well.Hockey had character back then,now it’s just poor calls by the refs that dominate every after game report ,that is all because of stupid rule changes, thought to spark a greater intrest down south.The Americans loved this going into the stands voilence,remember Toronto andthe Rangers when Bernie Parent got his mask pulled off and thrown into the crowd?He never finished the game ,deciding he couldn’t play without one.

  2. Derry, you know as tough as it was back then, I think it was even crazier in the twenties and thirties. Hockey’s tame now.

  3. Today you gotta ask first, punch later. I say there should be a new rule to make it even more rediculous: the player that wants to fight needs to take their glove and slap the shoulder or helmet of the player they want to fight and yell “I DEMAND SATISFACTION!”.

  4. DK, In that photo the Canadiens have stripes at the bottom of their pants—-Whats up with that ,HEE,HEE ?!
    Cheers from the East & Happy New Year to you & yours & All your many readers !!!
    Les Canadiens Sont La !!!!

  5. 31, I always thought there was nothing better than a lot of heated action and gloves dropped. But it’s almost politically incorrect to say that now. But I don’t care. BGL would be a lot more important on the team if he was pissed off more.

  6. DK, do you have any Kleenex, I’m really stuffed up today. Must be allergic to feathers !
    All the Very best in the New Year
    Les Canadiens Toujours !!!

  7. Mike – feathers? I don’t get it. Oh, wait a minute, I do now. Birds of paradise. Yes, but it’s a good thing if they fly up your nose.

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