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Hockey - Violence in the 1950's

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Old
06-20-2010, 08:45 AM
  #1
Canadiens1958
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Hockey - Violence in the 1950's

This thread was inspired by the desire to clarify certain misconceptions and false perceptions being perpetrated by posters in the Orr vs Howe thread about violence in hockey during the 1950's and how certain players from other eras, the 1980's - Gretzky could not survive in the fifties.

When challenged about their lack of veracity these posters fold their hand or ignore the truth.

1950 - Gordie Howe, Skull Fracture
This has been misrepresented as a phantom "they" cracking Gordie Howe's skull. Fact of the matter is that Gordie Howe's reckless play resulted in him fracturing his own skull.

http://www.legendsofhockey.net/html/...onep196605.htm

Still in terms of actual violence the self-inflicted incident was not as serious as the Bill Masterton death,1968. Nor was it career ending like a few other head injuries suffered during the 1950's notably Paul Meger:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Meger

Still such incidents were rare compared to the numerous, I'll spare you a detailed list, concussion career ending injuries suffered by NHL players during the last 10 years.

Stick Swinging
Geoffrion/Murphy incident during the early 1950's, M.Richard / Laycoe, Lindsay / Ezinicki. In the sixties you had Fleming/G.Tremblay, Shack / Zeidel, Maki/Green, In the seventies you had W. Paiement / Polonich, Forbes / Boucha, leading into recent times . Chris Simon, Ben Eager, Marty McSorley to name a few. Not much change and if we extend the issue to using the stick dangerously then things are somewhat worse the last few years.

Fighting
The Howe / Fontinato fight has been used to show how violent fighting was during the fifties. But the simple facts are that Fontinato returned to play soon after the fight and his career did not suffer. He played regularly until suffering a career ending neck injury in 1963. On the other hand Nick Kypreos, Adam Deadmarsh v Jovanovski are just a few players who suffered career ending injuries during fights in the last decade.

Toughness
The perception that the fifties was much tougher - usually accompanied by the false assumption that Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux would not have survived.Fifties toughness was tempered with respect, lacking in today's game.

However players like Camille Henry, Don Mckenney, Murray Oliver, Billy Harris, Don Marshall, Phil Goyette,Alex Delvecchio, Red Kelly, Bill Quackenbush,Charlie Burns,amongst others all managed very well even though they would be considered, small, slight or gentlemanly as the case may be.

Hope this serves to eliminate some of the more blatant misconceptions about the fifties.

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06-20-2010, 10:24 AM
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Yeah I've never bought the idea that Gretzky wouldn't have survived in the 50's, although I have only seen one full game from the 50's which was a 1959 Toronto Montreal game. I'd love to see more games from that decade though because that one was a very entertaining style of hockey. The tempo of the game seemed to be a fair bit higher than in the 80's, not nearly as wide open, not nearly as many scoring chances, but lots of great rushes and plays etc. It seemed a bit tougher too but nothing that would be the difference between a player dominating in one era, and getting killed in another.

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06-20-2010, 10:40 AM
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Dick Duff OT Goal

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Originally Posted by Ryan87 View Post
Yeah I've never bought the idea that Gretzky wouldn't have survived in the 50's, although I have only seen one full game from the 50's which was a 1959 Toronto Montreal game. I'd love to see more games from that decade though because that one was a very entertaining style of hockey. The tempo of the game seemed to be a fair bit higher than in the 80's, not nearly as wide open, not nearly as many scoring chances, but lots of great rushes and plays etc. It seemed a bit tougher too but nothing that would be the difference between a player dominating in one era, and getting killed in another.
Would that be the Dick Duff OT Goal game? If so, your assessment is very accurate.

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06-20-2010, 02:08 PM
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Watched many game in the 50s and you can't assume that the big incidents is what seperates the violence between eras. You could barely score a goal in the 50s because you would get a crosscheck or a slash on your body when close to the goal. Its the little things that different not the headlines.

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06-20-2010, 11:17 PM
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Let's not forget the size of players in the 50's either. For example the Red Wings SC winning team of 1955 had just two players over 6 feet and only one over 200 lbs.

Gretzky at 6'0" 170 would've had much more room than he had in the 80's and 90's. And Mario at 6'4" would've been a Giant!

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06-20-2010, 11:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greatgazoo View Post
Let's not forget the size of players in the 50's either. For example the Red Wings SC winning team of 1955 had just two players over 6 feet and only one over 200 lbs.

Gretzky at 6'0" 170 would've had much more room than he had in the 80's and 90's. And Mario at 6'4" would've been a Giant!
Except that if gretzky was born in 1930, he would likely have been 5'6" & 155 lbs.

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06-21-2010, 03:49 AM
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06-21-2010, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greatgazoo View Post
Let's not forget the size of players in the 50's either. For example the Red Wings SC winning team of 1955 had just two players over 6 feet and only one over 200 lbs.

Gretzky at 6'0" 170 would've had much more room than he had in the 80's and 90's. And Mario at 6'4" would've been a Giant!
Yea because we all know the bigger the less injuries.

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06-21-2010, 01:01 PM
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How does the increased use and eventual mandatory requirement of wearing a helmet factor into this discussion?

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06-22-2010, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Would that be the Dick Duff OT Goal game? If so, your assessment is very accurate.
Yep, that's the one.

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06-22-2010, 10:21 AM
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Helmets

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Originally Posted by JohnnyD View Post
How does the increased use and eventual mandatory requirement of wearing a helmet factor into this discussion?
From the standpoint of equipment, impact on play, safety or what point of view?

Helmets, both football and hockey, were rather primitive in the 1950's.Football went thru a phase where hitting with the helmet as the lead point was taught and encouraged.Football and know hockey both went thru "headshot" phases where rules had to be introduced to curb deliberate blows to the head. Also little was known about the relationship between a proper fit, mouthpieces and other equipment.

Hockey helmets did not evolve as quickly as football helmets. They were used mainly as post injury protection, often temporary, - Jack Crawford, Charlie Burns, Gordie Howe, Warren Godfrey, Red Kelly, and a few others.


Last edited by Canadiens1958: 06-22-2010 at 10:25 AM. Reason: clarification
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06-22-2010, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
From the standpoint of equipment, impact on play, safety or what point of view?

Helmets, both football and hockey, were rather primitive in the 1950's.Football went thru a phase where hitting with the helmet as the lead point was taught and encouraged.Football and know hockey both went thru "headshot" phases where rules had to be introduced to curb deliberate blows to the head. Also little was known about the relationship between a proper fit, mouthpieces and other equipment.

Hockey helmets did not evolve as quickly as football helmets. They were used mainly as post injury protection, often temporary, - Jack Crawford, Charlie Burns, Gordie Howe, Warren Godfrey, Red Kelly, and a few others.
I was thinking that most people would incorrectly use the logic of..."The 1950's was much tougher, they didn't even play with helmets"

When in reality, shouldn't it be the era or eras in which helmets are considered an absolute necessity that are actually "tougher"? Perhaps tying into the point that was brought up earlier, toughness no longer has the respect aspect tied to it.

EDIT: Dirtier is probably a better word to use than tougher


Last edited by Hawkey Town 18: 06-22-2010 at 10:59 AM.
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06-23-2010, 05:47 PM
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My memories of the 50’s are that it was a very violent era. Spearing was rampant. Andy Bathgate did an interview with True magazine which was somewhat sensational in that he named names. Apparently, the Canadiens and in particular Doug Harvey were among the worst offenders. Following is a link to a newspaper article from the time where Doug Harvey & Toe Blake admit to using the spearing tactic to defend against an illegal interference play that the Rangers apparently practiced.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=5691,2390188

I think a lot of the violent behavior of the 50’s was due to the intense rivalries that formed when you played each team 14 times with many back to back games. You didn’t have to wait long before you got a chance for a payback.

Another factor was that you were constantly playing for your job. With roughly 100 positions available, many players were in constant fear of being demoted and there was always someone trying to run you out of the league. You had to stand up for yourself or you were gone. Some players like Bathgate & Henri Richard were good with their fists & survived that way. Others such as Lindsay & Mikita used their stick as the equalizer. In fact, Lindsay gave Mikita the following advice "Hit them first"

Would Gretzky have survived. Likely. After all, someone like Camille Henry did have a few good seasons in the 50’s. Gretzky might not have been as effective though.

Just my take on it.

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06-23-2010, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
My memories of the 50ís are that it was a very violent era. Spearing was rampant. Andy Bathgate did an interview with True magazine which was somewhat sensational in that he named names. Apparently, the Canadiens and in particular Doug Harvey were among the worst offenders. Following is a link to a newspaper article from the time where Doug Harvey & Toe Blake admit to using the spearing tactic to defend against an illegal interference play that the Rangers apparently practiced.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=5691,2390188

I think a lot of the violent behavior of the 50ís was due to the intense rivalries that formed when you played each team 14 times with many back to back games. You didnít have to wait long before you got a chance for a payback.

Another factor was that you were constantly playing for your job. With roughly 100 positions available, many players were in constant fear of being demoted and there was always someone trying to run you out of the league. You had to stand up for yourself or you were gone. Some players like Bathgate & Henri Richard were good with their fists & survived that way. Others such as Lindsay & Mikita used their stick as the equalizer. In fact, Lindsay gave Mikita the following advice "Hit them first"

Would Gretzky have survived. Likely. After all, someone like Camille Henry did have a few good seasons in the 50ís. Gretzky might not have been as effective though.

Just my take on it.
When I think of Gretzky playing in the 50s or 60s that is what I wonder about. Could he stand up for himself and still be as effective. Even when Orr came into the league he had to stand up for himself to be accepted and established. And he was a skinny rail when he came in as an 18 year-old.

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06-23-2010, 07:21 PM
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[QUOTE=Canadiens1958;26376380]

Stick Swinging
Geoffrion/Murphy incident during the early 1950's, M.Richard / Laycoe, Lindsay / Ezinicki. In the sixties you had Fleming/G.Tremblay, Shack / Zeidel, Maki/Green, In the seventies you had W. Paiement / Polonich, Forbes / Boucha, leading into recent times . Chris Simon, Ben Eager, Marty McSorley to name a few. Not much change and if we extend the issue to using the stick dangerously then things are somewhat worse the last few years.

Except that the recent incidences are one guy using a stick on another. The stick fights of the 50s and 60s were real stick fights, 2 guys squaring off trying to put their opponent in the box (not the penalty box).

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06-23-2010, 08:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
When I think of Gretzky playing in the 50s or 60s that is what I wonder about. Could he stand up for himself and still be as effective. Even when Orr came into the league he had to stand up for himself to be accepted and established. And he was a skinny rail when he came in as an 18 year-old.
They would've pounded him bloody. You had to fight your way to success. Though the 80s were pretty nasty too it wasnt as nasty as the 50s.

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06-26-2010, 08:51 PM
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Hockey was a much more violent game in the 40s and 50s. Unlike today, there was rarely any video coverage in those days, as television was in its infancy, but here's a glimpse of what the game was like:



At the 3:05 mark in this video, Rocket Richard swings his stick at the helmetless head of Ranger pest Eddie Kullman, cutting him for 8 stitches. If he did that today he'd get a lengthy suspension, but the Rocket did that kind of thing frequently throughout his career.

Gordie Howe had his problems with Kullman too, but instead of swinging his stick at him in full view of the officials, he took care of him in typical Howe fashion: He broke his cheekbone with an (undetected) punch in the face, away from the play when the ref wasn't looking. That was because Kullman kept spearing him in the back of the legs. There was no penalty. Nothing!

The type of carnage that superstars like Howe and Richard inflicted upon players throughout their careers would land them in jail if they did that in today's NHL.

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06-27-2010, 07:54 AM
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Thank You

Quote:
Originally Posted by bleeney View Post
Hockey was a much more violent game in the 40s and 50s. Unlike today, there was rarely any video coverage in those days, as television was in its infancy, but here's a glimpse of what the game was like:



At the 3:05 mark in this video, Rocket Richard swings his stick at the helmetless head of Ranger pest Eddie Kullman, cutting him for 8 stitches. If he did that today he'd get a lengthy suspension, but the Rocket did that kind of thing frequently throughout his career.

Gordie Howe had his problems with Kullman too, but instead of swinging his stick at him in full view of the officials, he took care of him in typical Howe fashion: He broke his cheekbone with an (undetected) punch in the face, away from the play when the ref wasn't looking. That was because Kullman kept spearing him in the back of the legs. There was no penalty. Nothing!

The type of carnage that superstars like Howe and Richard inflicted upon players throughout their careers would land them in jail if they did that in today's NHL.
Thank you for the tape.

The mandatory use of the helmet eliminated most of message high sticking which was an integral part of hockey into the 1980's.

You still have the spearing - Sharp on Lidstrom, 2009 playoffs and the high-sticking has been replaced with hard armoured shoulder, elbow or forearm blows to the head which are much more dangerous.

Land players in jail? The head shot artists manage to avoid such consequences in today's NHL.

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06-27-2010, 08:01 AM
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Thank You

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Originally Posted by Brentbreakaway23 View Post
Thank You for the tape. Interesting to see the number of opportunities for hits from behind that were taken.

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06-27-2010, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Thank you for the tape.

The mandatory use of the helmet eliminated most of message high sticking which was an integral part of hockey into the 1980's.

You still have the spearing - Sharp on Lidstrom, 2009 playoffs and the high-sticking has been replaced with hard armoured shoulder, elbow or forearm blows to the head which are much more dangerous.

Land players in jail? The head shot artists manage to avoid such consequences in today's NHL.
I'm not downplaying the severety of the type of hitting that goes on these days. Today's high-speed/body armour hits are devastating. But with every game being televised, with multiple angled views of what transpires, it's impossible to imagine anybody getting away with the kind of blatant, overt violence that was commonplace in the 40s-50s.

Here's a few examples of Rocket Richard in action:

Richard ended Bill Juzda’s career with a sucker-punch:
Quote:
Richard “found himself in the penalty box for fighting with Fern Flaman. This time Maurice considered himself unjustly punished, and figuring he’d justify the penalty, he reached out and belted Bill Juzda of the Leafs, who was standing near the penalty box, with his Sunday punch. Juzda went down as though he’d been belted by Joe Louis and didn’t move for a whole minute.”
-Allen Camelli: Great Moments in Pro Hockey; pg 27
Andy O’Brien wrote of this as well, saying that Juzda, standing nearby:
Quote:
"made nothing more than a polite criticism of the incensed Rocket and got knocked clear out of the National Hockey League".
-Andy O'Brien: Rocket Richard; pg 9
Richard and Juzda had quite a history. On March 16th, 1947 they squared off during a massive brawl in New York. This wasn’t exactly an Olympic boxing match:
Quote:
“Richard broke his stick over Juzda’s head, snapping the shaft in two. Juzda arose slowly, like a Frankenstein monster, and tackled Richard, bringing him down violently... Juzda then excused himself from Richard, picked up a stray stick and poleaxed Buddy O’Connor, breaking his jaw".
-Hockey: The Story of the World’s Fastest Sport (Fischler and Beddoes); pg 250
Rocket was at it with his stickwork a few weeks later in the Stanley Cup finals against the Leafs. In game two, he was involved in stick-swinging incidents with Vic Lynn and Bill Ezinicki. Here’s what Rocket said:
Quote:
"Lynn started off giving me a bad check and I tried to get at him. I was running after him and when he spotted me he lifted his stick in the air; when I saw that I swung my stick and hit him too. I hit him first, on the head. He was bleeding a little bit and I got five minutes. Then I got tangled with Ezinicki. We both got our sticks up in the air and I clobbered him too. Before he hit me I struck him and I was in trouble. More penalties. After the game I went out and had a bad meal. Then I found out I was suspended for one game because of Lynn and Ezinicki and we ended up losing the series to Toronto".
-Stan Fischler: Those Were the Days; pg 310
In a Dec. 1954 game against Toronto:
Quote:
"Bob Bailey hurls his 200 pound mass against the Rocket's back. A tremendous crash into the boards. Punch-drunk, the Rocket picks himself up, turns toward the referee... Red Storey doesn't react... In a few strides he crosses the ice and accosts Bailey, smacking him with his stick so hard Bailey loses a tooth... Bailey, gripping the Rocket's head in the vice of his arms, sticks his fingers into his eyes. Maurice explodes. He wants to wreck everything. With his stick he mows down whatever is standing on the ice. Five times Red Storey disarms him. Five times he comes back with a stick. Finally, the referee expels the Rocket"
-Roch Carrier: Our Life With the Rocket; pg. 218

In 1955, enraged by a high-stick from Hal Laycoe that cut him:
Quote:
“Suddenly he skated toward Laycoe, who was a short distance away and swinging his stick over his head with both hands he struck Laycoe on the shoulder and face. At the time Laycoe was struck he had dropped his stick and gloves.
The linesman grabbed the two players and Richard’s stick was taken away from him. However, he was able to break away from Linesman Thompson and picking up a loose stick again attacked Laycoe with two one-handed swings striking him over the back and breaking the stick. Again Linesman Thompson got hold of Richard but Richard was able to get away and got another stick and struck Laycoe a third time across the back as he ducked to avoid the blow.
Linesman Thompson again got hold of Richard and this time forced him to the ice and held him there until a Canadien player pushed him away and Richard gained his feet. When he did so he punched Linesman Thompson two hard blows in the face.”
-from Clarence Campbell’s official report. Andy O’Brien presented the entire report (pg 44-47) in his excellent book titled Rocket Richard.

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06-27-2010, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
This thread was inspired by the desire to clarify certain misconceptions and false perceptions being perpetrated by posters in the Orr vs Howe thread about violence in hockey during the 1950's and how certain players from other eras, the 1980's - Gretzky could not survive in the fifties.

When challenged about their lack of veracity these posters fold their hand or ignore the truth.

1950 - Gordie Howe, Skull Fracture
This has been misrepresented as a phantom "they" cracking Gordie Howe's skull. Fact of the matter is that Gordie Howe's reckless play resulted in him fracturing his own skull.

http://www.legendsofhockey.net/html/...onep196605.htm

Still in terms of actual violence the self-inflicted incident was not as serious as the Bill Masterton death,1968. Nor was it career ending like a few other head injuries suffered during the 1950's notably Paul Meger:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Meger

Still such incidents were rare compared to the numerous, I'll spare you a detailed list, concussion career ending injuries suffered by NHL players during the last 10 years.

Stick Swinging
Geoffrion/Murphy incident during the early 1950's, M.Richard / Laycoe, Lindsay / Ezinicki. In the sixties you had Fleming/G.Tremblay, Shack / Zeidel, Maki/Green, In the seventies you had W. Paiement / Polonich, Forbes / Boucha, leading into recent times . Chris Simon, Ben Eager, Marty McSorley to name a few. Not much change and if we extend the issue to using the stick dangerously then things are somewhat worse the last few years.

Fighting
The Howe / Fontinato fight has been used to show how violent fighting was during the fifties. But the simple facts are that Fontinato returned to play soon after the fight and his career did not suffer. He played regularly until suffering a career ending neck injury in 1963. On the other hand Nick Kypreos, Adam Deadmarsh v Jovanovski are just a few players who suffered career ending injuries during fights in the last decade.

Toughness
The perception that the fifties was much tougher - usually accompanied by the false assumption that Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux would not have survived.Fifties toughness was tempered with respect, lacking in today's game.

However players like Camille Henry, Don Mckenney, Murray Oliver, Billy Harris, Don Marshall, Phil Goyette,Alex Delvecchio, Red Kelly, Bill Quackenbush,Charlie Burns,amongst others all managed very well even though they would be considered, small, slight or gentlemanly as the case may be.

Hope this serves to eliminate some of the more blatant misconceptions about the fifties.

If Henry and McKenney survived I guess Gretzky would have also. Not only were they non-physical, but those guys had the rep of being able to avoid hits much like Gretzky was legendary for later. (In fact, that's why they called McKenney "Slip")

As to the rest of the list though, you forget that Red Kelly could kick ass if you pushed him too far.

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06-27-2010, 06:03 PM
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The Habs fans have become quiet. It is becoming quite evident that the Canadiens were quite a vioilent & dirty team in that era. Probably the dirtiest in the league led by Richard & Harvey. looking more & more like the Flyers of the 70's albeit with more talent. wonder how much of their success was due to intimidation.

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06-27-2010, 07:33 PM
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Facts

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Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
The Habs fans have become quiet. It is becoming quite evident that the Canadiens were quite a vioilent & dirty team in that era. Probably the dirtiest in the league led by Richard & Harvey. looking more & more like the Flyers of the 70's albeit with more talent. wonder how much of their success was due to intimidation.
Facts are that the Leafs(led the NHL 4 times 893.4 pim/season) were the most penalized team in the NHL for the ten season span between 1950-51 and 1959-60, Canadiens(3 times 853.8 pim/season) were second, followed by the Hawks(2 times/793.4 pim/season), Bruins(1 time,786.3 pim/season), Rangers(773.5 pim/season), Red Wings(700.3 pim/season).

Equally interesting is the fact that ALL the incidents implicating the Canadiens happened away from the Montreal Forum.

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06-27-2010, 07:44 PM
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Interesting

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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Facts are that the Leafs(led the NHL 4 times 893.4 pim/season) were the most penalized team in the NHL for the ten season span between 1950-51 and 1959-60, Canadiens(3 times 853.8 pim/season) were second, followed by the Hawks(2 times/793.4 pim/season), Bruins(1 time,786.3 pim/season), Rangers(773.5 pim/season), Red Wings(700.3 pim/season).

Equally interesting is the fact that ALL the incidents implicating the Canadiens happened away from the Montreal Forum.
Interesting that those incidents implicating the Canadiens were away from the Forum. The favorable refereeing they got there probably made them feel less need to resort to violence. Also unteresting that they were a close second to Leafs in PIMs. The leafs were known to be a clutch & grab team. The Habs were a stickswinging, spearing type of team. Most condemning is the newspaper article where Blake & Harvey defend spearing opposing players as a legitimate defensve tactic. Harvey made that statement after almost killing Red sullivan with a vicious spear.

A very violent era & the most violent team of all was the most successful one.


Last edited by pappyline: 06-27-2010 at 07:53 PM.
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06-27-2010, 09:59 PM
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Canadiens1958
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Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
Interesting that those incidents implicating the Canadiens were away from the Forum. The favorable refereeing they got there probably made them feel less need to resort to violence. Also unteresting that they were a close second to Leafs in PIMs. The leafs were known to be a clutch & grab team. The Habs were a stickswinging, spearing type of team. Most condemning is the newspaper article where Blake & Harvey defend spearing opposing players as a legitimate defensve tactic. Harvey made that statement after almost killing Red sullivan with a vicious spear.

A very violent era & the most violent team of all was the most successful one.
Previously another poster provided the example of Eddie Kullman. The Rangers were known for spearing especially during the Phil Watson era.

BTW the only team to lead the NHL for five consecutive seasons in penalty minutes during the O6 era was Chicago 1958-59(912)/1959-60(970)/1960-61((1072)/1961-62(894)/1962-63(906) featuring noted stick men - Ted Lindsay, Stan Mikita, Reggie Fleming, Jack Evans.

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