Playing the Field by Dink Carroll
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03-03-2013, 07:18 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Montreal Gazette, Jan 4, 1955
I believe this is the last of the Carroll columns nik jr originally posted during ATD2011 to get posted here.
Background (this is not the actual Dink Carroll column, but appears next to it on the same page
Apparently, the Detroit Red Wings of the early 50s had a "problem" with too much profanity on the ice that fans could hear from the stands.
President Clarence Campbell of the National Hockey League said yesterday that obscene language by players is a poor advertisement for hockey and he is taking that general approach when dealing specifically with the Detroit Red Wings.
Campbell said there have been "lots of spectator protests" but no specific complaints against any club other than Detroit.
After apparently receiving complaints from fans, Campbell himself heard profanity from the stands, left his seat, and went behind the bench to talk to Red Wings coach Jimmy Skinner. Skinner told Campbell to mind his own business. Detroit boss Jack Adams was incensed. He denied that Detroit used more profanity than and told the media that the Board of Governors should censure Colin Campbell for interfering with Detroit's coach while the game was in progress.
(note - Colin Campbell sure made lots of friends around the league in 1955. This was only a few months before he was the center figure in the Richard Riots in Montreal).
The Dink Carroll column
The column talks about Tony Leswick in the context of Campbell's crackdown on profanity. Dink Carroll refers to a piece in MacLean's magazine that just came out called "The Biggest Pest in Hockey," about Leswick, who Carroll calls "one of the biggest offenders in his choice of vocal epithets."
Leswick is five-foot-five and weights only 155 pounds, but don't let that fool you. He has a neck like the late Bull Montana and seems to be made of India rubber. The biggest guys in the league take a reef at him and all he does is bounce. He doesn't appear to have much regard for his life, as he is constantly needling opposition players and inviting them to attack him.
"I've been cut by some of the best players no longer in hockey," he boasts. "They're all washed up - I'm still around."
Carroll writes about Leswick's longstanding feud with Maurice Richard. One of Leswick's favorite taunts was suggesting that Jean Beliveau (who at that point was halfway through his first full season in the NHL) would steal all Richard's glory. But the feud had been going on long before Beliveau came around "and the things Leswick has been shouting at the Rocket for the last 10 years couldn't be printed in a magazine like MacLean's." Richard was asked what about Leswick made him so mad and he replied, "suppose we start with his face."
Ted Kennedy was another of Leswick's favorite targets. Leswick would call Kennedy "Captain Syl," basically calling Kennedy a wannabee version of Syl Apps (Kennedy took over Apps' captaincy when Apps retired):
You never saw the day you could carry Apps' skates, Captain Syl, and what's more, Captain Syl, you never will.
The MacLean's article refers to an incident between Leswick and Kennedy to show Leswick's value to the Red Wings dynasty. With 12 seconds left of the first OT of Game 5 of the 1954 Stanley Cup finals, Leswick and Kennedy were battling for the puck in a corner:
"Hey Captain Syl, Leswick snarled, "I got a present for you."
He hauled back his right fist and belted Kennedy right between the eyes. Kennedy dropped his stick and piled into Leswick. Both were put off for fighting. Detroit didn't score in the remaining 12 seconds, but after a minute and one second of the next overtime period, Ted Lindsay fired the winning goal. Ted Kennedy is the "take charge guy" on the Toronto team and it was disorganized without him.
A funny story about how Leswick's mouth got him in trouble in a restaurant in New York when customers took his comments about Fern Flaman (who he was also feuding with) out of context:
Leswick has frequently feuded with Fern Flaman, the Boston Bruins defenseman. It started when he was a member of the New York Rangers, and Bill (Bill Frayne, writer for Maclean's) recalls a night in Madison Square Garden when the Bruins were playing the Rangers. Leswick took quite a thumping from Flaman and he was still steaming when he accompanied Bones Raleigh, another Ranger, for a post game snack in a restaurant near the Garden.
"Next time Boston's here, I'm gonna kill him," growled Leswick. "He's always got his stick up around your neck, digging away. I'll pound his head through the ice."
He was overheard by another patron who didn't understand hockey jargon. But he heard the words "kill him" and "stickup" and "ice," and thought he'd come across a couple of diamond smugglers. He called the police and a couple of them quickly arrived on the scene.
Confronted by a couple of lean and scarred and reasonably dapper hockey players, the cops were loathe to accept explanations. Finally, a call to Frank Boucher, coach of the Rangers, convinced them.
Carroll compares Leswick to the old "jockey's" in baseball who were forced to curb their language so "women and children" in the stands didn't have to hear all the profanity. He calls Leswick one of the few jockeys in hockey. He then mention's Referee Bill Chadwick's famous statement that Leswick "could bring out the worst in a saint."
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