Rangers and Canadiens had the greatest fight of all-time

Kenny Reardon (THN Archives)

Kenny Reardon, the rambunctious Montreal Canadiens defenseman, had one thing in mind as he stickhandled across Madison Square Garden ice on the night of March 16, 1947 – freeze the puck. “Dick Irvin, our coach, had bawled me out for losing the puck and the game last time we were in New York,” Reardon said.

Montreal was leading the Rangers 4-3 with 32 seconds left. If the visitors could hold the lead they’d clinch first place and a new prize of $1,000 for each player the NHL was giving away that year. The downtrodden Rangers, on the other hand, needed the win to stave off elimination from a playoff berth.

As hockey games go, this one was ripe for mayhem. The teams had been nurturing individual and collective hatreds all season. Montreal’s Reardon and Maurice Richard squared off with Bill Juzda and Bryan Hextall of the Rangers in the second period. “They were out to get Richard and Reardon,” Irvin charged, “in order to ruin them for the playoffs.” Reardon, who in 1946 had declared war on Ranger fans by slugging a promenade customer, agreed with his coach. “But,” added Reardon, “I couldn’t afford a fight in that last minute. I wanted to stay out of trouble.” Read more

Forget the Stanley Cup – in 1971, the T.J. Rugg Trophy was the one to win

Stan Fischler
Action at the first Professional Table Hockey Tournament in 1971 (Courtesy of Stan Fischler)

Table hockey has had its exciting moments, but nothing like the first New York Professional Tournament played at the George Washington Hotel in March 1971.

Historians have argued for decades over the precise birth of hockey in Canada. But when it comes to when and where professional table hockey was born in Manhattan, I have no problem citing the site, players and purse. I even remember the championship silverware – known as the T.J. Rugg Trophy, because it originally was my wife, Shirley’s, antique samovar (a metal container used to boil water).

The first tiny puck was dropped in our living room. This premiere table hockey event happened by accident. Actually, it came about because of pure snobbery. To celebrate moving into our new Upper West Side apartment, my wife and I decided to throw a party, inviting two sets of friends. On one hand, there were the hockey nuts like us. On the other were pseudo-intellectuals who neither knew nor cared about our beloved ice game. With that in mind, we segregated the groups; heavy-thinkers in the dining room while puck-followers were around the corner where Shirley set up our brand-new table hockey set. Read more

Get married during the season? Not when Conn Smythe ruled the Maple Leafs

Conn Smythe (B Bennett/Getty Images)

If you were a smart player when Conn Smythe ruled Toronto hockey – and he paid your salary – you didn’t mess with the ‘Little Major’ of Maple Leaf Gardens.

Smythe had his rules, and woe to those who chose to break them. One of Conn’s canons had to do with weddings. Get married during the season and – uh-oh – brother you’ll get Zamboni-ed right out of the lineup. Johnny ‘Goose’ McCormack, who just happened to be the Leafs best penalty killer, couldn’t wait and wed Margaret Gordon during the 1950-51 campaign. Alas, the Goose was cooked. Faster than you can say mazel tov, McCormack was sold to Montreal. Read more

How a post-war family squabble ruined the Rangers

Stan Fischler
Lynn Patrick (Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

If the supreme boss of an NHL team tells his son – who had been the team’s leading scorer – he’s no longer good enough to make the club, how could the son possibly outwit his dad and get back on the squad?

This curious generational battle – won by the son – involved one of the NHL’s foremost powerbrokers, New York Rangers GM-president Lester ‘The Silver Fox’ Patrick, who demanded his oldest son, Lynn, a Hall of Fame left winger, not return to the Blueshirts lineup in October 1945 at the age of 33. Read more

Major McLaughlin’s mad moves made for Black Hawks miracle 1938 Stanley Cup

Stan Fischler
Bill Stewart (HHOF Images)

You couldn’t make this up. An American-born National League baseball umpire coaches the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1937-38 season. His club finishes dreadfully under .500, yet manages to make the playoffs. His goalie is injured the day of Game 1. A replacement is reputedly found in a Toronto tavern. He beats the heavily favored Maple Leafs and then is suspended by the league. Eventually, the Hawks win the championship, but Lord Stanley’s Cup isn’t even around for the players to haul around the rink.

Go figure. Read more

Coaching insanity led Maple Leafs to NHL’s most miraculous comeback

Syl Apps (HHOF Images)

It never happened before, nor has it happened since. And it very likely never will happen again.

Coached by Clarence ‘Hap’ Day, the 1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs remain the only team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup final. They accomplished that feat because Day went totally against the coaching grain, and then some. Read more

Elwyn ‘Doc’ Romnes best remembered for a brutal on-ice surgery

Stan Fischler
Elwyn ‘Doc’ Romnes (HHOF Images)

There are all kinds of doctors. You can start with medical doctors, shrinks and those who live in ivory towers, otherwise known as PhDs. In the NHL there have been two distinct species of docs: the ones who tend to wounds and the one who skated for the Chicago Black Hawks.

Elwyn ‘Doc’ Romnes, out of White Bear Lake, Minn., was a slick center who just hated his given name but loved being called ‘Doc’ – a moniker he got because he carried his skates in a physician’s case, of all places. Read more

Even with 80 stops in one NHL game, Sam LoPresti’s best save came at sea

Stan Fischler
Sam LoPresti (HHOF Images)

No other goaltender in NHL history can lay claim to a record number of saves on the ice and then produce one of the most extraordinary saves of all-time at sea.

Sam LoPresti made his big-league saves for the Chicago Black Hawks and his even harder-to-believe save for the U.S. Navy. First, let’s start with the ice part of this saga that truly strains credulity. Read more