Sticks on Heads


There’s nothing like some good, honest hockey violence to stir the innards. For some of us anyway.

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 in Toronto. It involved the Canadiens’ Ken Reardon and Rangers/Leafs Cal Gardner, and went on for years.

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 gentle like that. Because this post won’t be for you.

The Habs were in New York, late in the 1947 season, 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 Bryan 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, in 1949 he “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 referee Bill Chadwick.

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 at the Community Centre when I was a kid.

ken_reardon 005

7 thoughts on “Sticks on Heads”

  1. Rock em’ sock em hockey!…wounds didn’t heal easily as grudges lingered….kinda makes you feel for the ref….unlike the refs of today who try and show their arrogance at the face off circle…c’mom guys it’s not rocket science!..just drop the rubber and get on with it.

  2. Have you seen Gardner’s head on Milt Schmidt’s body (Parkies card 1954)
    I believe it is the very first transplant !

    But nothing to compare wioth thos of ther 1971-72 O-pee-chee …

  3. That’s funny, Pierre. Yes, Parkhurst made a bunch of mistakes. Wrong heads, wrong names, Jacques Lemaire playing for Buffalo. I guess they didn’t have a copy editor.

  4. Dennis that era of hockey has left for good as they work to generate more money for these pampered athletes by eliminating any hint of passion as to please the people who never played the game. Soon there will be no checking ( we already have that for our once glorious team ) and the puck will be soft rubber and also they won’t be able to lift the puck. Oh yes ticket prices will have to rise as well, those new tech pucks are not cheap. The fans won’t mind probably. I notice many are really busy taking selfies or texting or high giving etc as the camera sweeps around the arenas instead of watching the game. My grand daughter is a young fan who frequents the local games and her favorite player is whomever looks the best the he’ll with the skill. It just how it is I guess these days.

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