Monday, March 17, 2014

Today In NHL History - Rocket Richard Riot

On March 17th in 1955, Montreal fans rioted when NHL President Clarence Campbell visited the Forum after suspending Maurice Richard for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs for actions four days earlier.

Sparked by an eight stitch highstick from Hal Laycoe of the Boston Bruins, the league leading scorer shattered his stick on Laycoe's face then grabbed another from a teammate and continued to beat him. Making matters worse, Richard punched out linesman Cliff Thompson during the melee, the Rocket's second assault on an official in two months.

Fuming from the suspension, Canadiens fans threw eggs, bottles, and eventually a punch at the league boss before a tear gas bomb set off not far from his seat. The chaos inside spilled to the streets with 10,000 fans and 200 police engaged in a riot resulting in 100 arrests, scores of injuries, and $100,000 in damages.

Trailing Detroit 4-1 at the end of the first period, the game was declared a forfeit. Montreal would go on to lose to the same Red Wings club in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Richard returned the following season racking up a record five straight Stanley Cup wins for Montreal.

That's today in NHL history.

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