Fiery Reardon – Player and Exec

Two short stories about Ken Reardon – one good, one bad.

Ken Reardon was  a rough, tough, and often fiery defenceman for the Canadiens in the 1940s, who, after retirement, became a high- level executive for the Habs.

From the time Reardon joined Montreal in 1940, his life could be told in three chapters. His rugged, all-star play on the ice; his enlisting in the Canadian Army during World War 11 after only two years with the Habs, and being a main cog on the army hockey team; and his tenure as executive with the Habs, where he worked as assistant to Frank Selke. All in all, he’d been a teammate, friend, and ultimately the boss of Maurice Richard and Toe Blake.

A story I like about Reardon occurred when Reardon was still a young player with Montreal, and he had this thing about looking good. One day he was getting a haircut prior to a practice, and was late getting to the Forum. He told the barber to be quick so the barber charged him only thirty-five cents instead of the regular fifty cents because it was a quick job. At the Forum, the door to the dressing room was locked so he had to knock, and coach Dick Irvin answered.  The young defenceman knew he was busted so he tried to make light of it. “I just got a haircut for thirty-five cents,” said Reardon. “No you didn’t,” replied Irvin. “You just got a haircut for twenty-five dollars and thirty-five cents.”

A story I don’t like involves Reardon and Ralph Backstrom.

The following was told by Backstrom to Susan Foster, and was included in her fascinating book, The Power of Two. Here, I’m paraphrasing.

 

When Ralph was a 17-year old hockey phenom in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, the Canadiens sent Reardon to the Backstrom home in Northern Ontario in the hopes of signing the kid. At the Backstrom kitchen table, Reardon sat with Ralph and Ralph’s parents and he placed five $100 bills on the table which would be the Backstrom’s to keep if Ralph signed on the dotted line.

Ralph told Susan that at that time, neither he or his parents had never seen even one $100 bill, let alone five, and Ralph signed the paper, making him part of the Canadiens family.

As Reardon was leaving, he reached into his pocket and pulled out another five $100 bills, waved them in Ralph’s face, and told him he’d been authorized to pay twice as much for Ralph’s signature if need be. Then he put the 500 bucks back in his pocket.

2 thoughts on “Fiery Reardon – Player and Exec”

  1. Interesting story Dennis……you are an encyclopedia of this stuff. I guess there are many sides to a person ( Reardon ) and if we only knew everything…oh crap maybe it is better we don’t.

    I noticed a change in your site and hopefully you will hang in there with it Dennis. It definitely is the most settled and calm site ( that I know of ) as it pertains to our once Glorious Habs team. The HIO site was being ruled by 3-4 posters who bantered back and forth and really seemed to be an argument going full time. I noticed it drove away many of the posters that seemed realistic and knowledgeable. The site was strict on verbal abuse but slack on spewing of just plain nonsense. It was difficult to find intelligence or more importantly consistency. Now the Gazette has taken over and it is more difficult than ever to stay interested. They have even hinted at charging after the new year. Geez what’s it all coming to ?

    Anyhow good luck to the boys tonight.

  2. Thanks Cliff. I want to keep going and need to change a bit. Right now I’m re-hashing old posts of mine from ten years ago.

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