Tag Archives: Hal Laycoe

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

 

What Players Had To Do

I pulled cards from my 1954-55 set to show you examples of what players back then did for summer jobs, which you can see on the last line of each player description. This was long before a players association, when the game was much different, and there was no such thing as a wealthy player. The owners made millions, the players worked summer jobs, and if these stars-on-ice somehow incurred the wrath of Conn Smythe and other owners or general managers, they could be buried in the minors or cast adrift, rarely or never to be heard from again.

 

 

 

Lots In The Lineups

You can look at the Nov. 25, 1950 program lineups for the Habs and Leafs and see a few cool things.

This was Montreal’s 20th game of the season, and they would lose 4-1 to the Leafs in Toronto on this night. (Okay, that wasn’t so cool).

Gerry McNeil is in goal for Montreal in his rookie year after Bill Durnan retired after the previous season.

Number 5 for Toronto is Bill Barilko, who would score the legendary Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal for the Leafs in game 5, against these same Habs, to cap off the season. Barilko would be killed that summer when his plane crashed in Northern Ontario.

Hal Laycoe, number 12 for the Habs, would be traded to Boston later this season and was a major player in the 1955 Richard Riot.

Rocket Richard has ten goals at this point, more than anybody else on the team.

Habs #14 Billy Reay would eventually coach for 16 NHL seasons, two with Toronto and 14 in Chicago. I have a game-used stick of his from two years prior to this, signed by the entire Habs team.

Elmer Lach, number 16, is still playing and would play three more years after this.

Golly gee willikers, that’s Howie Meeker, number 11 for the Torontonians.

And Turk Broda, who was at the opening ceremonies for the brand new Orillia Arena that year, has one more shutout than McNeil at this point.

 

 

 

Extra, Extra, Read All About It – Part Seven -1973

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).

This is part seven – 1973

Why was 1973 the longest season ever for Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Ken Dryden, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lapointe, and Serge Savard ? And the same for the other Cup finalists of that year – Dennis Hull, Stan Mikita, Bill White, Pat Stapleton, and Tony Esposito?

Because the 1972 season began for these guys (This Vancouver Sun said ten players but I count eleven) on the morning of August 23th, 1972 when they showed up for the first day of camp for the historic 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series, and ended when Montreal hoisted the Cup in Chicago in game six on May 10th, 1973. 

And what series was bigger to Ken Dryden, the Summit or the Cup? “Each is the most important series at the time you win it,” answered the thoughtful Dryden.

It was Montreal’s 18th Stanley Cup, and each player pocketed a record $19,000 for the five weeks of playoff work, and Chicago players didn’t do so badly either, taking home $14,000 each.

Yvan Cournoyer won the Conn Smythe trophy in these playoffs, and  it was record-breaking series with 56 goals being scored, an average of more than nine a game. Jacques Lemaire also found himself in the record book by recording nine assists in the final. It was also Henri Richard’s 11th time he’d sipped from the Cup, whcih is unbelievable. Jean Beliveau had previously been on ten Cup teams.

Scotty Bowman, in his post-game comments, said, “Sure we knew we were the better team. After all, we’d only lost ten games during the season. But look at the pressure it put on us. We came into every game the overwhelming favourite. It’s tough to live up to your press clippings.”

Montreal’s playoff run began by taking out the Buffalo Sabres in six games, then Philadelphia in five, before besting the Hawks in six. Henri Richard considered retiring after this season but ended playing another one and a half seasons beyond. 1972-73 was also the year the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames joined the league.

One side note from this Vancouver Sun writeup. The Vancouver Canucks hired Hal Laycoe to be their new general manager, replacing Bud Poile. Laycoe of course was the villian in 1955 who got Rocket Richard all fired up, which led to the infamous Richard Riot on St. Patrick’s Day of 1955. Laycoe, playing for Boston, high-sticked Rocket and of course number nine went after the bespeckled Laycoe, only to find himself held by linesman Cliff Thompson. So in order to protect himself from being hit by Laycoe while being held by the official, Rocket punched Thompson in the face twice, knocking him out cold, and the rest, as they say, is history.  

 

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).

campbell

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.

Is That A Hockey Player In My Living Room?

If the Washington Capitals walked unannounced into your living room, would you know they were the Caps or at least recognize anyone besides Alex Ovechkin and Jose Theodore? Maybe Brendan Morrison because he’s been in the league for awhile? Or Mike Green because the camera follows him?

Of course on the other hand, if Kyle Chipchura or Matt’ D’Agostini walked in to a Washington living room, the police would be called. Heck, I wouldn’t know Kyle Chipchura if he walked in to my living room.

That’s one of the problems with 30 teams in the NHL. They’re almost a faceless bunch. Only the chosen few, the ones in the limelight, the ones with the good quotes or big noses and numbers are familiar for the public. Probably 500 of the 600 players or so can walk around in cities and no one will bother them. Few will be asked for autographs, and groupies won’t invite them up to their hotel rooms because for all they know, these are just guys with tiny bankrolls like the rest of us.

You could say the same holds true for football players, but football has the big television contracts and money flowing like Niagara Falls. And we know many NFL players because we get to see their mug shots on police blotters and crime shows.

Before helmets in the NHL, we saw guys with red hair or no hair or Elvis hair. Now, so many have shaved their heads and look like they’ve done hard time at San Quentin so it doesn’t matter that they wear helmets. They all look the same whether it’s on the ice or off. Gone are the days of greasy black locks like Phil Esposito’s, or Bobby Hull’s flowing blond mane as he danced down the left side, and all the great and now extinct individual looks the players had.

But mostly, because of the all-important helmet, we just wouldn’t know a lot of players if they walked in to our living room, and that can’t be good  when they’re trying to make in-roads in the southern states. People down there need something to identify with. And I need to know who’s in my living room before I call 911 or not.

I was in a Keg restaurant in Calgary once and a bunch of Philadelphia Flyers were sitting just across from us and I didn’t know it until an excited waitress told me. It certainly wasn’t Bobby Clarke, Rick Macleish and Moose Dupont sitting there. Them I would’ve known.

If the Habs walked in to my living room, I think I’d figure it out. I’m fairly sure. Although I might have to concentrate a little for some of them. Not like, say, if Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and Larry Robinson showed up. That’s a much different story.

And if it’s tough for someone who follows the sport closely, imagine what it’s like for those who don’t? The players are faceless creatures with only names and numbers on their jerseys to tell them. They’re like vanilla ice cream dropped in a snow bank.

Something should be done. What about painting their hair colour on their helmets? Or if they’re bald, just paint some on the sides. Or maybe the players could stand at the exit and thank all 20,000 for showing up? Or the NHL could pay for players’ faces on those little signs on top of New York and Las Vegas taxi cabs.

Alex Ovechkin wore a darkened visor, which is a bad idea. Sure, most hockey fans know this flashy Russian, but this type of visor must be restricted to him and him only. Imagine if the rest of them decided to do this? Then we’d never know what anyone looked like. It’d be like those futuristic space-age images we see of players with jet-propelled skates, playing to the death in headgear that hides the demon inside.. It would be the beginning of the end of hockey in the southern US if players wore darkened visors. These things would do more damage than Gary Bettman.

Of course there has to be helmets. Can’t be having anymore Rocket Richard/Hal Laycoe/Wayne Maki/Ted Green sticks smashed over heads. And there’s already too many head shots and concussions. Helmets and jock straps are vital pieces of equipment. It goes without saying.

But at least the guys could stop shaving their heads. It would be a start. Think of the fans.

Even Soup Got Into The Act With Upset Fans

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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.)

A Brief Bee Hive Moment: Hal Laycoe’s Big Night With The Rocket

 From 1934 to 1967, if you mailed in a Bee Hive Corn Syrup coupon, they would send you a free photo of most any player you requested. They were divided into three groups over the years, and this photo of Hal Laycoe comes from Group 2, which covered the years between 1944 to 1964.  Bee Hive photos were fun to collect and because everyone asked for the Rocket or Beliveau or Horton  or Armstrong etc, the lesser players like the Habs’ Tod Campeau and Vern Kaiser and others are extremely rare and valuable.

Hal Laycoe had been a friend of Rocket Richard’s when both played for Montreal, but after Laycoe was traded to Boston, he and the Rocket took centre stage one night in what led to a big-time piece of hockey history.

It happened like this. Laycoe had highsticked Richard one night in Boston, but play continued with no penalty called. This upset the Rocket very much. He skated up to Laycoe, smashed him in the face and upper body with his stick, and was soon subdued by the officials. But this didn’t stop Richard. He kept breaking away from the linesmen to get at this former friend, Laycoe, and he even broke his stick over the Bruin player’s back.

Linesman Cliff Thompson got hold of Richard again, but the Rocket broke loose and punched Thompson twice, which wasn’t the greatest idea. It simply wasn’t a good situation all round.

All of this led to Richard’s suspension of the remaining games in the season, plus the entire playoffs, and you know the rest of the story.

Of course it was the 1955 Richard Riot on St. Patrick’s Night In Montreal.

 

 

 

I Think I’m Going To Have A Green Beer And Toast The Richard Riot

I know I don’t have to go into detail about what happened on this day, March 17, in 1955. (53 years ago). On second thought, maybe a little detail. Because it was, after all, a really big deal.  rocket.jpg

It was, of course, the Rocket Richard riot in Montreal, and many feel feel it was the beginning of the French-Canadian voice being heard louder, and the germ of Quebec separation ideas.

It began during a game previously, in Boston, and the Rocket, while skating past the Bruins’ Hal Laycoe, who had previously played for the Habs and had considered himself a friend of Richard’s, clipped the Rocket on the head with his stick. Richard became quite upset and whacked Laycoe with two different sticks, breaking the second over Laycoe’s back. He even found a third stick and hit the Bruin again.

Then the biggest problem of all occurred. Richard punched the linesman who was trying to control this mightly pissed-off number nine.

League president Clarence Campbell, who was basically a puppet to the owners, and a man the French considered an arrogant English asshole, (L’asshole anglais), then pulled the shocker. He suspended the Rocket for the remainder of the regular season and all of the upcoming playoffs.

This, of course, didn’t sit well with almost everyone except the other teams and their owners. In fact, the owners had thought for awhile that the Rocket was getting too big and needed to be reigned in. He sure was reigned in.  But the angry mobs weren’t

On St. Patrick’s night, with Detroit in town, Campbell sat down with his future wife to enjoy the game. Instead, he got slapped in the face by someone, then others started pelting him with tomatoes, and then someone let off a smoke bomb.

The game, naturally, was cancelled, with the win given to Detroit, and outside, all hell broke loose. Store windows were smashed, looters looted, and in general, it wasn’t Woodstock by any stretch of the imagination.

So to wrap this up, a few different things came out of this that I find interesting. It was Montreal sports writer Red Fisher’s very first day on the job covering the Habs. Bernie Geoffrion overtook Richard to win the scoring title. The Red Wings took out Montreal in the playoffs. The Rocket went on the radio to plead for peace on Ste Catherines Street. And the smoke bomb was later found out to be police-issue. You can read what you want into that one.

Personally, I’d love to know who the culprits were who slapped Campbell, threw the tomatoes, and let off the smoke bomb. They set history in motion.