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10-05-2008, 11:19 AM
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A Fistful of Dollars
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Here's an old-time hockey anecdote...


It is October 1968. The NHL season is just under way. This is an era when, basically, nobody goes to hockey games in California, even on a free ticket, which they gave away by the thousands.

The Los Angeles Kings are playing their second game of the season in Oakland. There are 2,668 fans in the stands. Mr. Regan is the general manager of the Kings and his boss, Mr. Cooke, is not happy.

The Kings are having their home opener in four days. There are only 1,400 or so tickets sold and Mr. Cooke wants his GM to do something about this. Mr. Regan is watching the penalty-filled Oakland game in the stands when he gets an idea: if the fans want rock 'em, sock 'em hockey, he will give it to them.

He decides to punch a referee.

"I was coming off the ice after the game when suddenly my path was blocked by a man who deliberately bumped into me," wrote referee Bruce Hood in his memoir, Calling the Shots:

"I stepped back, surprised, and said, 'Who are you?'

"You know @#$%^ well who I am," he screamed. I didn't know then, but it was Larry Regan, the Kings' general manager.

"He drew back his fist and punched me right in the mouth, cutting my lower lip."

Well, a mle ensued. Even the cops got involved.

Mr. Regan told the newspapers he had to do something drastic to deal with the terrible refereeing. For the home opener against Boston, he promised "a bloodbath."

The stunt worked. More than 10,000 fans attended the Kings' opener later that week. "You're better than Barnum and Bailey," Mr. Cooke is said to have complimented his GM.

Mr. Regan was fined $1,000 by the league and suspended for three weeks. Mr. Cooke sent his GM on a scouting trip to Europe to cool his heels.

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