Tag Archives: Clarence Campbell

Downtown Montreal Mosey

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Luci’s back in Powell River for a few months to keep her job going and keep the plants alive and all that, and I’m on my own for awhile. So I’ve started to do what I’ve wanted to do for most of my life. Really get to know downtown Montreal.

Today I drove down at 8:30 am, parked my car across the street from the Forum, walked down Ste, Catherines four kilometres to St. Laurent, walked up the Main about a kilometre to Prince Arthur, headed east to St. Denis, went down St. Denis to Rene Levesque, down Rene Levesque to Crescent, turned left into Chinatown, turned right on Gauchetiere to University, up to Ste. Catherines, and back to the Forum to my car.

Almost 12 kilometers. But I stopped at a bar on Peel where I fired up Skype and talked to Luci in Powell River for awhile.

Montreal has a fantastic downtown. When I started this big honkin’ walk it was early Saturday morning, and the streets were quiet. But as the hours rolled on, the streets came alive. It was interesting to see.

Below is a picture of the Sun Life Building that I took in about 1963 when I was thirteen. The Sun Life Building used to be the headquarters of the NHL before they took their typewriters and ledgers and secretaries and moved to New York.

It was where NHL Prez Clarence Campbell had his office and took phone calls and advice from owners like Conn Smythe and Arthur Wirtz and James D. Norris.

And it was where Maurice Richard got hauled up on the carpet in 1955 and was suspended by Campbell for the remainder of the season and all the playoffs after the Rocket, for very good reason, punched a linesman in the face. A perfect situation for rascals like Smythe and Wirtz and Norris to have happen.

I can see it now. The phone would ring and one of Campbell’s secretaries would answer, get on the intercom, and say, “Mr. Campbell, Mr. Smythe is on the line,” and Clarence would pick up the phone and say “Hi Conn, how’s things in Toronto? Have they found Barilko’s body yet?”

And Smythe would say, “Never mind that, Clarence, you have to put the hammer down once and for all with Richard. He’s getting too big for his bridges. He’s been in a lot of shit this year, he could hurt one of our guys, and I don’t care about those damn newspaper stories that say Richard is taunted and harassed by opposing players. It’s not true. Ted Lindsay and the rest are swell people. Real gentlemen. So Clarence, me and the boys feel that the next time this Richard bastard runs afoul, we want you to deal with it properly or we’ll fill your seat with King Clancy or someone like that. Someone who listens.”

So Rocket got the big suspension which led to hoodlums trashing shops near the Forum on Ste. Catherines St.

I noticed today that there’s still lots of old buildings near the Forum that would have been there during that riot.

Back to the Sun Life building. It was an important place for a young hockey fan like myself, a historic place, and I took a picture of it back then.

And below that, a couple of pictures I took of it today.

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Mr. Campbell Talks Habs, Parity, And Expansion

It’s the Habs in Newark tonight, and it’s anybody’s guess what we’ll see from the gang that sometimes can’t shoot straight.

I’m not even going to try.

One thing is certain, though. The team that went to the Stanley Cup finals last year was the New Jersey Devils, and one year later they’re not even making the playoffs.

Teams can’t remain strong. Players become UFA and are gone to the highest bidder. New Jersey lost Zach Parise because Minnesota came along and threw 98 million over 13 years at him.

Do you like this sort of thing? Do you enjoy the fact that with the way the league is now, it can be Stanley Cup finalists one year, bums the next?

It’s parity at it’s finest. Gary Bettman’s dream. No dynasties. Everyone the same. Here today, gone tomorrow. Yawn.

I’ve talked about this before, and some disagreed and that’s fine. My opinion, which hasn’t changed, is that I think there should be an absolute powerhouse in the mix, a team others yearn to beat, and one which fans come out to see, boo, and hope like hell for a whipping. That’s the way it was for many years with the Canadiens. Everyone wanted to beat them, and it was a feather in anyone’s cap when they did.

Clarence Campbell felt this way too, as you can see in this 1959 interview I found in my trunk, entitled “Canadiens Are Good For Hockey.”

“When the teams are all bunched up and battling for playoff berths the way they have this season, then I’m a happy man. It actually makes it easier for me. They’re so busy doing what they’re doing, and the rewards at stake are so great, they don’t have much time for misdemeanors.”

“Well, with the exception of Montreal, this is the kind of hockey race you must appreciate,” writer Ed Fitkin said.

“It’s a dream,” Campbell agreed, “but when you say ‘with the exception of Montreal,’ the only people who feel that way are the other teams. Actually, my view is that it’s an awful lot better to have a front-running team that will set a standard that everybody else has to shoot at. I’d far rather have one team away out in front than one away out behind.”

Later on in the interview, Campbell discusses the idea of expansion, which has nothing to do with what I was just talking about, but I think is fun regardless, coming from a much simpler time.

“Expansion,” declared Mr. Campbell, “is quite a problem. One of the things you must always keep in mind in connection with hockey is that the ideal league is six teams, combined with our present playoff system. That leaves two teams out of the playoffs but who are, as we always hope, constantly in the running. Now you add to the league, and have just one more team that isn’t going to make it. And the present formula for successful operation in hockey, and this applies to other leagues as well as our own, is that a six-team league is an ideal thing. Now that’s for a start. There are other considerations. And that is, if other cities do develop with the necessary facilities and the interest sufficient to pay what it costs to support a National Hockey League team, then of course they are obviously entitled to consideration, and if any such groups do evolve, we’ll have to do it. That, of course, raises the question of transportation, which is becoming more difficult all the time as far as the operational of the league is concerned. Then it might mean that we’d have to go to the air more.”

Campbell

 

 

 

Scenes From His Tavern (And More)

This is the kind of thing I really love. It’s not mine, just a photo online, but imagine how great it would look on a shelf in your house.

A Rocket Richard ashtray from the tavern he owned in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Taverne 544/9

 

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Below, a 66 minute National Film Board documentary (in French) on the Rocket called Peut-être Maurice Richard, and scenes from his tavern can be seen at 18:15, 54:55, and 64:26.

The one at 54:55 shows Rocket arm-wrestling a customer, and throughout the film there are wonderful moments, even if you don’t speak French. Maurice Richard was such a nice and humble man.

(Thanks to Christopher for sending this along).

Peut-être Maurice Richard by Gilles Gascon, National Film Board of Canada

Tragic End For Ross Lowe

This is number two of the three Bee Hives I found on eBay recently, with only one left to go to complete the 73-player Group 2 set. The first of the trio, that I posted last week, was Doc Couture. And now today – Ross Lowe.

Ross Lowe was a defenceman who came over to the Habs from Boston in a 1951 trade which sent Hal Laycoe to Beantown. Laycoe would later become synonymous with the infamous Richard Riot in 1955 when he belted the Rocket over the head with his stick, which led to Richard punching linesman Cliff Thompson and getting the boot for the final three games of the season, plus all of the playoffs.

But that’s getting off the subject.

Lowe would play two playoff games with the Habs in the spring of ’51, and then 31 regular season games during the 1951-52 season when he would tally one goal and five assists.

After three years in the minors following his brief Montreal stint, Lowe would be offered a tryout with the New York Rangers, but it wasn’t to be. He drowned in Lake Haliburton, which is north-east of Orillia, in the summer of ’55 while vacationing with his family.

R. Lowe

 

Smythe And Kid

When you see a building being built that takes maybe a year to finish, think about this; Maple Leaf Gardens was built during the depression in just five months.

It takes me that long to build a fence gate.

Conn Smythe recruited several rich buddies to invest in the Gardens, and when the money fell short by several hundred thousand dollars, he convinced the workers to trade twenty percent of their wages for shares in the building. The thing got built and the workers’ shares, that were bought for a dollar apiece, quickly increased by a hundred-fold.

Smythe was one powerful hockey man. After building Maple Leaf Gardens and a successful Leafs franchise, he was offered the presidency of the entire league, basically so the other owners would finally have this loud and forceful bully out of the way. But Smythe said no way was he becoming a yes-man to the owners. So they hired Clarence Campbell, who was the definitive yes-man and a guy the owners, especially Smythe, could manipulate like a puppet.

Think about the St. Patrick’s Day riot in 1955 in Montreal, when Campbell suspended Rocket Richard for the remainder of the season, plus all of the playoffs. Owners, especially Smythe, had been fed up with the Rocket causing havoc with officials throughout the league and wanted him reined in. Happily for them, they had Campbell to do their dirty work for them, who turned around and handed Richard that gigantic suspension that we still talk about every St. Patrick’s Day.

Years later, someone asked Stafford Smythe, Conn’s son who succeeded dad as Maple Leaf president, why they didn’t get rid of Campbell, who would, from time to time, piss the owners off. Stafford replied, “Where would we find another Rhodes scholar, graduate lawyer, decorated war hero, and former prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, who will do what he’s told?”

Stafford seemed to be a man disliked by almost everyone who knew him. Howie Meeker punched him in the face during a disagreement about certain players when Howie was coaching the Leafs, and it seems whenever there’s mention of Stafford in various books, it involves bullying and manipulating, and it’s obvious the man had issues. Just not a nice person. Rude to the players’ wives. A tax evader, a fraudster, and a stealer of company funds.

Dad had more class than son.

Conn had a beautiful apartment built in the innards of the Gardens where he lived much of the time and where he called in many Gardens employees to yell at and often fire. How cool would that be? You don’t have to go out in the cold when you go to the games.

He also owned a thriving gravel pit where some of the Leafs worked, and a ranch where he raised prize racing horses.

Smythe held firm when it came to the players’ idea about forming a players association, and managed to prolong it for ten years, mostly by convincing all the teams to trade the main instigators, like Ted Lindsay and Doug Harvey, to other teams. He was very proud of this accomplishment. A union of course wouldn’t jive with Conn. He needed full control. He needed to be able to treat his players and coaches as he saw fit, and pocket much of the profits while being cheap about giving small raises to deserving players.

I wonder if Gary Bettman has a picture of him taped to the ceiling above his bed.

The old bastard also lobbied for years to stop Harvey Busher Jackson, one of his star players throughout the 1940′s in Toronto, from being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame because he disapproved of Jackson’s drinking and womanizing. Smythe would quit hockey completely when Jackson was finally inducted in 1971.

He also didn’t like Roman Catholics and was mortified when son Stafford fell in love with and married one.

Conn Smythe was a piece of work, but raised countless dollars for crippled children. So he had a good side of him, I suppose. Although it doesn’t excuse him for all the other stuff. And that includes fathering Stafford.

When Cal Used The Same Room As Me

Before I get into anything else, I’d like to direct you to Hockey Inside Out which has a nice interview with Jaraslav Spacek, conducted by the Gazette’s Dave Stubbs. Spacek gives his thoughts about Jacques Martin, Pierre Gauthier, Geoff Molson and others, and I found the piece really interesting.

I can’t top that. Geez.

So I guess I’ll just go on to something completely different.

This Orillia Terriers Senior club were household names, like NHL players were, for Orillia kids like me. Whit Mousseau, Nick Kennedy, Red Barrett, John Hall and the gang. The entire team was packed with great players playing in a great Ontario Senior League, and in my mind, these clubs back then weren’t far off from pro calibre like the AHL. I still feel that way.

I was just a kid, and they were grown men, really old guys who shaved and probably had sex with women. They must have been all of 20 or 30 years old then.

It was fast, rough, tough hockey, and sometimes, even retired NHLers would show up in various lineups, including Harry Lumley between the pipes in Collingwood, and rugged forward Cal Gardner in Orillia. (top left corner in photo).

I remember watching Gardner play like it was yesterday. I can even visualize where I was sitting at one game when he was on the ice, which is weird because I’ve often forgotten why I’ve walked from the living room to the kitchen. But I remember Cal Gardner vividly, and it was amazing to me to see a real live person who had actually played in the NHL against the Rocket and Howe and others, but was now an Orillia Terrier, only a few feet away, and who used the same dressing room as I did.

Gardner played for the Rangers, Toronto, Chicago and Boston before retiring in 1957, was twice an all-star, and joined Orillia after being with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League. His two sons, Dave and Paul both became NHLers too.

Gardner also had a couple of big connections with the Habs in different ways.

Gardner was on the ice for Toronto when Bill Barilko scored his legendary goal to win the Cup for the Leafs in 1951, and had set up Howie Meeker who missed the net, just before Barilko didn’t miss the net.

And he and Montreal’s Ken Reardon enjoyed a bitter and dangerous feud that lasted years. It began when Gardner was with New York and got his stick up after a shot from the point and clipped Reardon on the lip. Gardner said his stick was up a little. Reardon said it was a blatant cross check to the face. Whatever it was, it started a bench-clearing brawl and Reardon promised revenge on Gardner, pretty well every time the two met after that.

In 1949, when Gardner was a Leaf, Reardon finally got his revenge at the Forum, when he “accidentally” ran into Gardner and broke his jaw on both sides, causing league prez Clarence Campbell to force Reardon to post a $1000 good behaviour bond. But they continued to rough each other up even after that and the ill-will apparently continued long after both had retired.

Too bad Reardon didn’t latch on to an Ontario Senior team and they could have kept it going, maybe at the good old Orillia Community Centre, with me there to see it. I always did enjoy a little blood and intestines splattered on the ice. As long as it wasn’t mine.

 

 

Happy Rocket Long Weekend

It’s the big Victoria Day long weekend in Canada, when we celebrate a queen from so far back that even Bob Cole wasn’t even born yet.

I don’t know about this. Did she even come to Canada? Did she watch the Leafs and say “We are not amused?”

It’s a great weekend though. It’s a time when students come home to visit mom and pop and spend the three days partying with friends with mom and pop never seeing them except at dinner time. It’s when outlaw bikers gather to play frisbee and learn to ballroom dance. And it’s when millionaire hockey players not in the playoffs finally open up their million dollar cottages up in the Muskokas or Laurentians.

I don’t know why we have a holiday for a British queen who reigned more than a hundred years ago. My feeling is, this big weekend should be in honour of Maurice Richard, the man responsible for slaying charging troops from Toronto and Boston, and overcoming the evil and ruthless Clarence of Campbell.

And if it’s all about celebrating a birthday, Bob Dylan was born on May 24th. Bob grew up just a few miles south of Canada, in Hibbing, Minnesota, so he knows what cold, snow and hockey are. I’m sure that right now he’s reading The Hockey News from his pad in Malibu. For me, it’s no contest between Bob and Vicky. Not once did I party and do illegal drugs to a Queen Victoria record.

Although Vicky was quite a looker, don’t you think?

But Rocket beats them both. Of course. So to everyone out there, Happy Canadian Rocket Long Weekend. If your kids aren’t home, don’t worry. They’re probably passed out in a dumpster somewhere and will be fine by dinner time.

 

The Campbell/Richard Slight Disagreement

I went back to my posts from the past several years regarding the Richard Riot which took place on St. Patrick’s Day 56 years ago. If you’ve already read these, hope you don’t mind.

 

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When Clarence Campbell suspended Maurice Richard for the remaining games of the season and all of the playoffs in March of 1955, he was not a popular man. And that’s an understatement to end all understatements. Of course he wasn’t popular. How could you treat Rocket so unfairly when all he did was smash Hal Laycoe over the head with his stick and punch out a linesman?

Richard fans took to the streets, as we all know, and trashed several blocks of Rue Ste. Catherine’s which became widely know as the Richard Riots, or the St. Patrick’s Day Riot. But they did more than just riot, smash and loot. No, only ordinary greaseballs simply riot, smash and loot. A Habs’ fan came up with a much more creative protest – design, print and cover Campbell’s soup cans, which was no relation to Clarence, with Maurice Richard labels, and for a short time, some stores sold their tomato soup this way. That’ll teach that rotten English president bastard.

Yes, Clarence Campbell was not a popular man at this time.

(My Richard soup label isn’t an original, only a copy. Originals turn up rarely and sell for many hundreds of dollars).

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This is Clarence Campbell being accosted by a thug the night of the Richard Riot of March 17, 1955. You know the story – Rocket was suspended for the remainder of the season and all of the playoffs for slugging linesman Cliff Thompson.

But Clarence Campbell either didn’t love his fiance Phyllis a whole lot or he wasn’t too bright even though he was a lawyer, a Rhodes Scholar, and a judge at Nuremburg.

Mr. Campbell surely must have known that a select breed of fan might be slightly upset that night. Things could go haywire, maybe even become extremely dangerous. This was not a night to bring a date. It wasn’t the most romantic thing Mr. Campbell had ever thought up, I’m sure.

But Clarence brought Phyllis, and when people started throwing things at him, much of it hit not only the target, which was you-know-who, but also his lovely lady. And do you think he’d get her the heck out of there? Nope. They sat and took it. Such a gentleman. Such chivalry. Such supreme stupidity.

Then a guy in a black jacket, as seen in the above photo, somehow made his way to Clarence and started pounding the bejeesus out of the NHL top dog, and Phyllis sat there (that’s her just behind the thug, with her eyes bulging), and took it all in. And do you think the prez would’ve got him and his sweetheart out of there then? Nope. They still sat there.

She should have said right then and there, “Clary darling, if you don’t get me out of here right now, I’ll have your balls for bookends.”

Shortly after, a tear gas bomb exploded and all hell broke loose. Only then did Campbell and his future wife get up and vamoose.

What a gentleman. The little lady could’ve been seriously hurt, but Clarence obviously wanted to make a statement, to show that he wasn’t going to be pushed around, blah, blah, blah. But Phyllis didn’t need to be in the situation at all. She should’ve been home knitting Clarence a toque and listening to the mess on the radio. In fact, Clarence should have insisted that that was what she would do.

And in fact, he should’ve been at home too, holding the wool for her. The Forum was the last place good old Clarence should have been at on this night. In fact, there might not have been a riot at all if this Rhodes Scholar would have stayed away. And imagine what this infamous night would have been like if you added a serious injury or worse to Phyllis?

It was headstrong stupidity from the NHL president.

No wonder the Rocket never stopped disliking this guy.

Good old St. Patrick’s Day. Green beer and other green things, leprechauns, jigs, barroom brawls, hangovers, and the Rocket Richard Riot which happened on this day back in 1955, which happens to be 56 years ago if my math is correct.

It was also long before taser guns, which might have come in handy that night. 

As you know, the Rocket was suspended for the remainder of the season and the entire playoffs after slugging a linesman, and riots and boorish behaviour ensued on Ste- Catherines St. outside the Forum until the Rocket himself went on radio and pleaded with everyone to stop the madness, which they did. 

This hockey lore will continue for another 400 St. Patrick’s days unless global warming puts an end to everything. 

What I want to know is, who were those black-jacketed hoodlums that set it all off, and are they still alive?

Clarence Campbell and his fiancee Phyllis decided to attend the game that night after the suspension was handed down, and they were pelted with eggs and other garbage. Someone went up to Campbell and hit him twice before running off. And another set off a tear-gas bomb.

So who were these greaseballs? Who threw the eggs, who punched Campbell, and who set off the tear-gas bomb? I’d like to know.

I’d like to know if they were busted for any of this. If they felt badly afterwards. If they told their kids and grandkids as the years went by. If they became heroes in their neighbourhoods. If they’re still alive. Or if they kept their embarrassing secrets with them to their graves.

Were these people even hockey fans? And most intriguing, the tear-gas bomb was apparently a Montreal police force item. How did someone get their greasy fingers on a police item?

I know that 37 people were arrested for breaking windows and looting stores that night. But I’d like to know about the handful who got the ball rolling.

If you were where one of the hoodlums, please let me know. Get it off your chest. You’ll feel better.

Oh, I Get It!

Clarence Campbell suspended Mike Cammalleri.

No he didn’t, Colin Campbell suspended Maurice Richard.

No way. Clarence Campbell suspended Maurice Richard and Mike Cammalleri suspended Colin Campbell.

I thought Colin Campbell suspended Clarence Campbell.

Nope, Mike Cammalleri suspended Clarence Campbell.

Are you sure it wasn’t Maurice Richard suspending Colin Campbell.

Absoutely sure. It was Colin James suspending Clarence the Cross Eyed Lion and Maurice Chevalier suspending Noami Campbell.

Oh, I thought you said Mike Cammalleri lived in Campbell River.

Look, for gawd’s sakes, Colin Campbell suspended Mike Cammalleri.

Oh.

Who Were Those Greaseballs At The Richard Riot?

Good old St. Patrick’s Day. Green beer and other green things, leprechauns, jigs, barroom brawls, hangovers, and the Rocket Richard Riot which happened on this day back in 1955, which happens to be 55 years ago if my math is correct.

It was also long before taser guns, which might have come in handy that night. 

As you know, the Rocket was suspended for the remainder of the season and the entire playoffs after slugging a linesman, and riots and boorish behaviour ensued on Ste- Catherines St. outside the Forum until the Rocket himself went on radio and pleaded with everyone to stop the madness, which they did. 

This hockey lore will continue for another 400 St. Patrick’s days unless global warming puts an end to everything. 

What I want to know is, who were those black-jacketed hoodlums that set it all off, and are they still alive?

Clarence Campbell and his fiancee Phyllis decided to attend the game that night after the suspension was handed down, and they were pelted with eggs and other garbage. Someone went up to Campbell and hit him twice before running off. And another set off a tear-gas bomb.

So who were these greaseballs? Who threw the eggs, who punched Campbell, and who set off the tear-gas bomb? I’d like to know.

I’d like to know if they were busted for any of this. If they felt badly afterwards. If they told their kids and grandkids as the years went by. If they became heroes in their neighbourhoods. If they’re still alive. Or if they kept their embarrassing secrets with them to their graves.

Were these people even hockey fans? And most intriguing, the tear-gas bomb was apparently a Montreal police force item. How did someone get their greasy fingers on a police item?

I know that 37 people were arrested for breaking windows and looting stores that night. But I’d like to know about the handful who got the ball rolling.

If you were where one of the hoodlums, please let me know. Get it off your chest. You’ll feel better.