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.