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04-18-2011, 04:16 PM
Student Of The Game
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Location: Regina, SK
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With the 934th pick in ATD2011, The Regina Pats are pleased to select:

Lou Fontinato, D

- 6'1", 195 lbs.
- 7th in Norris voting (1959)
- 9th in Norris voting (1963)
- Placed 10th, 13th among NHL defensemen in points
- NHL PIM leader (1956, 1958, 1962)
- NHL PIM runner-up (1957, 1959, 1960)
- Memorial Cup (1952)

Originally Posted by
Lou Fontinato was a rugged defenceman who played 535 NHL games with the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens in the 1950s and '60s. Considering his physical style, he was a durable player who missed relatively few games until, ironically, suffering a career-ending injury late in the 1962-63 season.

During his first full year in the NHL, "Leapin' Louie" made his presence felt and led the league with 202 penalty minutes. He spent five more years in New York where he roughed up opposing forwards and jumped into the rush on occasion. On June 13, 1961 he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in a much-publicized deal for Doug Harvey.
Originally Posted by Heroes: Stars of Hockey's Golden Era
Fontinato staked his spot as a policing defenseman for the NY Rangers in 1954. " We just practised what we were told to do from junior on. They always want a guy out there hitting, being a policeman", Leapin' Louie comments. "there are no regrets. What the hell. You're in the big top and you play the only way you know how. Mind you, on the way up, you had people encouraging it."
Originally Posted by Blueline Magazine, December 1957
Lou Fontinato was considered by most hockey experts as a clown when he first broke into the National Hockey League because of his antics on the ice... however since that time he has grown so much in stature that at the end of last season he was considered one of the top defensemen in the NHL. The controversial Louie is one of the hardest-hitting rearguards to appear in the NHL in some years. He has knocked many an incoming forward silly by his jarring bodychecks.
Originally Posted by Gordie, by Roy MacSkimming
Fontinato, the defenseman who had built a reputation as the premier battler of the NY Rangers, and perhaps the league... Fontinato had taken on many of the other NHL heavyweights, such as Fern Flaman, at one time or another. The Rangers' coach used to send Fontinato out to run at stars like Howe and Beliveau to throw them off their game.
Of course, we know Gordie beat up Fontinato, but there's no shame in that!

Originally Posted by Red's Story
Fontinato was brought up by the Rangers in 1954 to give the team some backbone. One night I said to him, "Lou, what is the matter with you? Every damn game I have with you, you're in a brawl. We can never have a pleasant evening with you on the ice." He told me he knew why the Rangers had hired him, which was to fight. "But I'm gonna tell you something," he added. "Everyday I'm learnin' a little more how to play hockey." He was the only man I ever saw in the NHL who would be out on the ice between periods trying to perfect his skating and working on other little things. When he was traded to the Canadiens in the 1960s, he didn't fight as much and had developed into a pretty darn good defenseman before he suffered a serious neck injury and retired.
Originally Posted by Red's Story
The Rocket finished almost every fight he was in. One exception was a night in January, 1956, when the Canadiens were in New York and he clashed with Lou Fontinato at the blueline. The Rocket very seldom lost a fight, but this time Fontinato really connected on his jaw. His arms went limp and his legs buckled, although he didn't go down. Fontinato, seeing he was out on his feet and defenseless, backed off and ended the fight after just the one punch.
Originally Posted by Players: The Ultimate A-Z Guide Of Everyone Who Has Ever Played In the NHL
He set records for penalties and fought bravely. He was a fan favourite and a solid defenseman...
Originally Posted by Hockey Chronicle
One of the game's roughest competitors was Leapin' Louie Fontinato...a fearless fighter and a friendly, colorful character.
Originally Posted by Hockey's Glory Days
Lou Fontinato added much-needed toughness to the New York Rangers... Fontinato consistently ranked among the league leaders in PIM, but he was more than just a tough guy; Leapin' Louie was also an effective defenseman.
Originally Posted by Doug: The Doug Harvey Story
"You know a defense guy I'd like to see on our team?," Reardon said to Elmer Ferguson in 1957. "I'd like to see that Leapin' Lou Fontinato in a Canadien uniform. What a pair he'd make with Harvey. There'd be Doug doing the smooth work, hooking the puck away from invaders, breaking out with those quick starts. And there would be Fontinato bouncing around, battering into everybody, knocking them down. An ideal combination."... He was called Leapin' Lou for the way he would leave his feet to pile into an opposing player.
Originally Posted by The Game We Knew: Hockey In the Fifties
...mostly known for his toughness... Fontinato caught Richard with a punch over the eye that quickly ended a fight... The one-punck knockout gave Fontinato the reputation he was looking for - heavyweight champion of the NHL. Gordie Howe, however, terminated that title in a much-celebrated 1959 fight.
Originally Posted by Dick Beddoes' Greatest Hockey Stories
Newsy Lalonde, before he died in 1970, picked an All-Mean-Team, capable of spilling enough corpuscles to gratify any blood bank in North America. He said he'd have been delighted to coach these "very perfect gentle knights":

Paddy Moran

Joe Hall, Sprague Cleghorn, Eddie Shore, Lou Fontinato

Leo Labine, Bill Ezinicki, Ted Lindsay, Cully Wilson, Bill Cook, Ken Randall
Originally Posted by The Thinking Man's Guide To Hockey
Fontinato was the sort who banged everyone in an enemy uniform.
Originally Posted by Years Of Glory
a heavy bodychecker and brawler...
Originally Posted by 100 Ranger Greats
Fontinato was a one-of-a-kind rearguard. His rhinoceros-like rushes up the ice made him a fan favourite, the "people's choice", in fact, in an era that was as colorful as any in Rangers' history... his nickname, Leapin' Lou, came from two sources: His crisp, clean bodychecks were often preceded by a leap from his skates. Another leap, this one straight up in the air, often followed to protest the many penalties he drew.

make no mistake - Fontinato was a solid defenseman, a fearsome bodychecker, and well skilled at getting the puck out of the Rangers' zone. But it was his fighting, brawling, really, that brought him fame. He took on all comers, big and small alike, won most all of his bouts and seemed to enjoy it heartily, smiling widely before and after many of his altercations.
Originally Posted by Boom Boom: The Life and Times of Bernie Geoffrion
Fontinato wasn't very smooth, but he could hit and he could fight. Like myself he was very emotional and every once in a while he would leap at a player... In a sense Fontinato was a bully and in another sense he wasn't. A bully is a big, tough guy who picks on someone he knows doesn't fight. Fontinato liked to do that. He would constantly run Big Jean although well aware that Beliveau was not a fighter. He did that with some of our smaller players as well. But to give Fontinato credit he'd fight with tough guys too...

(after being acquired in exchange for Harvey) no one was on the spot more than Fontinato, who had replaced Harvey. The Forum fans, who were quite capable of running a guy right out of the NHL, watched Leapin' Louie closely in the first few games. He didn't let them down. When we went to New York and beat the rangers 5-2 Fontinato was the best player on the ice. As much as I missed Harvey, I had to admit that Louie was doing the job for us... Selke was pleased as well. His acquisition of Fontinato turned out to be a very wise one. Leapin' Louie reminded me of myself in some ways. He was high-spirited and it was catching. It rubbed off early on the young fellows like Rousseau and Gilles Tremblay and some of us veterans couldn't help but be affected by it...

In the first half all-star balloting not one Canadien made it to the first team. Even though he was a bit on the crude side, Lou Fontinato would have gotten a vote from me. It was interesting to see how Louie would have been welcomed into our dressing room after being so hated when he played for the Rangers. The thing was, whoever came into the dressing room became a Montreal Canadien and we didn't hold a grudge. We welcomed Louie and we liked him because he was funny... but nobody on the opposition laughed at him. Louie was tough. He wasn't afraid of anybody.
Originally Posted by NY Times,10-26-1959
Lou Fontinato was again a standout on defense.
Originally Posted by NY Times, 01/07/1960
Lou Fontinato and Bobby Hull, the Hawks' leading scorer, began slashing eachother with their sticks...Hull began to swing his stick at Fontinato and Lou accepted the challengeb... Fontinato and the 6'3", 210 pound Elmer Vasko, tangled in the first period. they also sought to high-stick eachother.
Originally Posted by NY Times, 04/04/1962
Mikita, skating into Montral ice in the opening minute, was flattened by Lou Fontinato. The Hawk slid 20 feet into the boards.
An interesting piece that illustrates how Fontinato's toughness was regarded:

Originally Posted by Blood On the Ice
In 1958, in an informal poll, the six NHL general managers were asked to name the toughest player they ever saw and the toughest men playing at that time...

Lynn Patrick (Boston): Flaman, Harvey, Howe, Armstrong, Lindsay, Fontinato
Frank Selke (Montreal): Howe, Flaman, Armstrong, Labine, Fontinato, Evans
Tommy Ivan (Chicago): Howe, Lindsay, M.Richard, Flaman, Labine, Fontinato
Muzz Patrick (New York): Howe, Labine, M.Richard, Flaman, Fontinato, Lindsay
Jack Adams (Detroit): Howe, Flaman, Fontinato, M. Richard, Labine
Stafford Smythe (Toronto): Lindsay, Gadsby, Labine, Evans, T.Johnson, Flaman

Most votes:

Flaman 6
Fontinato 5
Howe 5
Labine 5
Lindsay 4
M.Richard 3
Armstrong 2
Evans 2

votes for "all-time toughest": Jack Stewart (2), Reg Noble, Joe Hall, Jimmy Orlando, Bill Cook
...and, one more picture for good measure:

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