Tag Archives: Richard Riot

Soup Riot


When Clarence Campbell suspended Maurice Richard for the remaining three games of the season and all of the playoffs in March of 1955, he was not a popular man. To say the least.

Of course Clarence wasn’t popular. His suspension of the Rocket was incredibly harsh, although Maurice did whack Bruins d-man Hal Laycoe a bunch of times with his stick after Laycoe had high-sticked him (which called for five stitches), and there was that coldcocking of linesman Cliff Thompson with a punch or two. But I digress.

Richard fans took to the streets, and as we all know, trashed several blocks of Rue Ste. Catherine, which forever after became known as the Richard Riot, or the St. Patrick’s Day Riot.

But there was more than just smashing and looting. Only ordinary greaseballs simply smash and loot. One disgruntled 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 after the incident, various stores sold their tomato soup this way.


Phyllis’ Lousy Date

Clarence Campbell sure was a lousy date. He takes his secretary/fiancee Phyllis King to a game at the Forum just after he suspends the Rocket for the remaining 3 games of the 1954-55 regular season plus the entire playoffs for slugging a linesman, and all hell breaks loose.

Folks in Montreal weren’t happy, and it certainly wasn’t a good time for Clarence to be impressing his squeeze. Phyllis ended up with eggs and tomatoes on her coat, tear gas smoke in her eyes and  nostrils, and a couple of rubber boots and programs bouncing off her head.

Bad romance call by Clarence.

But all’s well that ends well. Phyllis and Clarence were married in November of 1955, eight months after the infamous St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot, so obviously she forgave him for his lack of judgement.

Not the Richard judgement, the going-out-on-a-date judgement.

The following, from my collection of letters, is a rare and original Phyllis King letter from the office of her boyfriend, four years before the lousy date.


Here they are on their romantic date.


A Night At The Station

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone. On this day you’re an Irishman no matter what your roots are, and that’s a good thing. Except for the hangover you might have tomorrow morning.

I’ve talked many times about the Richard Riot that took place on March 17, 1955, and today, instead of going on about what you already know, I’d like to show a recent comment here from a fellow named Eric Buch.

Here’s what he wrote. It’s just one sentence, but it’s a beauty.

“The first game that my brother ever went to see at the Forum at the age of nine (March, 1955) featured the “Richard Riot” – tear gas, cars turned over and store windows smashed for many blocks down Ste. Catherine Street.”

I felt that was so fantastic. Imagine, the first time you go to an NHL game and you find yourself in the middle of history being made.

Eric also tells us about the time his teacher took the class down to the Westmount station one night to meet the Habs, and lo and behold, they all showed up.

Again, here’s Eric:

“Every year she would take the girls in her class to see the Ice Capades at the Montreal Forum and the boys to a Montreal Canadiens game. Her husband was a conductor for Canadian Pacific Rail and was able to find out which station the Habs would be leaving from to head to their next game. We went to Westmount station just before midnight (we were about the only ones there) and, sure enough, within minutes the entire Canadiens team came into the waiting room. It was Nirvana – seeing our hockey heroes, talking with them and getting their autographs – and a night that I will never forget.”

“By my calculation, it would have been January or February of 1965. Beliveau was the Captain and other players I recall meeting that night included Richard (“Pocket Rocket”), Backstrom, Rousseau, Laperriere, JC Tremblay, Cournoyer, Provost, Ferguson and ‘Gump’ Worsley. They don’t make ‘em like that any more.”


When They Were Young

My almost complete (missing four) 1954-55 Parkhurst set. And yes, it’s not a mint set and that’s fine. I like them just the way they are.

Detroit won the Stanley Cup this season, defeating Montreal four games to three in the finals. But the Canadiens were without Maurice Richard, who was on the sidelines serving a suspension which had triggered the infamous Richard Riot on March 17, 1955.

The next season, Montreal would begin their run of five straight Stanley Cups.














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


The Middle Of Summer

I’m now going to tell you that I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last 15 days due to walking a lot. At least several miles every day, at a decent clip.

I’m telling you this because there’s no Habs news to discuss. All’s quiet on the front. No Subban, Gomez, Shane Doan, or trade winds. No news of Youppi getting neutered or word on the stick boy job. It’s as dog days as it can be.

My beer gut has gone way down and I can almost do up my sports jacket. It’s almost embarrassing to walk around so svelt.

I’ve read that Alexander Galchenyuk has serious plans on making the team this fall and I hope he does. I think it would be tremendously exciting to have this fellow up and at ‘em and playing well. He’s probably a year or so away, I suppose, but stranger things have happened.

A couple of times I’ve walked seven miles at a good clip and it just about killed me. No pain, no gain. I hate that saying. If there’s a God, why does it have to hurt to look good?

If Galchenyuk actually wins a spot, surely it bumps Gomez off the face of the earth. And how come Subban is taking his sweet time in signing? Is he doing it on purpose?

I read that stopping eating three hours before bedtime and going to bed hungry is an excellent habit to get into if trying to lose weight. That’s a tough one. What about my late-night cherry pie, chocolate, and beer?

I can’t even go into anything. You already know about the Richard Riot and Plante’s mask and Lafleur’s goals against Boston and Patrick forcing a trade and all the rest of it.

There’s just no news.

I’m going for a walk.

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.




Another Damn Point

A fun and exciting game at the Bell Centre Saturday night, and with the Canadiens falling 3-2 to the New York Islanders in a shootout, they still get that lousy loser point, and we don’t want points. Not if they’re going to lose. Not with some highly-ranked young stud waiting to be plucked from the draft list.

How come they can’t even lose properly?

The Habs now sit 15th in the east, which translates to fourth worst overall, which means with our luck we’ll end up with someone like a Benoit Pouliot-type in the draft. Pouliot went 4th in 2004 draft and as we all know, is a journeyman at best.

But who knows who we’ll get and how well he’ll play? Why am I being so negative?

Fans got their money’s worth on this night, especially when PK Subban wound up. I can’t say enough about this guy and the way he skates and moves the puck. Intensity oozes through every pore, and when he plays like he did tonight, that alone is worth the price of admission. I’m worn out just looking at him, and thanks to him, there’s no way I can finish the crown moulding I started today. I’m just too tired. Thanks PK. I mean it.

Once again the Desharnais, Cole, Pacioretty line played like the Punch Line, although the only point from any of them came from Desharnais in the shootout. But they skated well, and were a big presence in overtime. And Peter Budaj, in nets played really well and even managed an assist on Louis Leblanc’s goal. Budaj has been exceptional in his last two starts and if he keeps this up, he’ll make us all forget Alex Auld. (bada bing bada boom).

Aaron Palushaj scored his first NHL goal and now that that monkey’s off his back, we expect a few more now and again.

That’s four extra innings in a row now for the Habs, in which they’ve won one but got points in all four.

But I don’t really care. As long as we don’t get a Benoit Pouliot-type when all is said and done.

Random Notes:

Islanders outshot Montreal 38-30.

Rene Bourque was booed on occasion tonight. To be blunt, he deserves it. (Although he scored in the shootout).

The Canadiens, if you’re interested, have won 5 of their last 17 games.

Next up, Wednesday in Buffalo. There are nine games left in this season, and then we can settle down and go about the business of fixing this freaking situation. I’m currently looking for a good deal on tar and feathers.

It’s the 57th anniversary of the Richard Riot, and I felt because I’ve written several stories about this in the past, I decided to forgo it this time. You already know all the details anyway.

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.



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).


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.

Fuzzy-Faced Bobby Hull Helped Dick Irvin In Practice

Rocket, Frank Selke, and Dick Irvin in deep discussion just before Richard was suspended which led to the infamous 1955 St. Patrick's Day Richard Riot in Montreal

After Dick Irvin’s coaching career ended in Montreal, he joined the Chicago Black Hawks for the 1955-56 season, but his health was in such bad shape during the Hawks’ training camp that year, that, as son Dick Irvin. Jr. told Frank Selke, he had to sit on the sidelines and let 16 year old Bobby Hull, who was still a junior but at the Hawks camp, do the on-ice work for him.

Mr. Irvin died in May of 1957 of bone cancer.