There will be stories galore in the next day or so about the March 17, 1955 St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot. People will be reading again about how the Rocket was suspended for the remainder of the season and the entire playoffs after slugging a linesman, and about the riots and boorish behaviour that ensued on Ste. Catherines St. outside the Forum. These facts have been part of hockey lore ever since that fateful night.
But 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.