Legends who lost it
Sports greats whose brain cramps and blown fuses made headlines
by Tony Care, Chris Harris & Dan Tavares
July 14, 2006
Just warming up: In a 1954 game (a year before the infamous Laycoe chop) Maurice Richard is restrained by linesman George Hayes, who was slapped by Richard in this altercation, after the hockey legend slashed Toronto Maple Leaf Bob Bailey. The slash was retaliation for Bailey boarding Richard. (Canadian Press)
The Rocket sparks a riot
If the Richard Riot proved anything in March of 1955 it was the iconic status that Maurice "The Rocket" Richard had in the province of Quebec.
With the Boston Bruins visiting the fabled Montreal Forum on March 13, defenceman Hal Laycoe cut Richard's head open.
The fiery Frenchman retaliated by tomahawking Laycoe in the head with his stick. Linesman Cliff Thompson then grabbed Richard as the two fell to the ice. Still fuming from the cut, Richard punched Thompson, the second time he had hit an official that season.
NHL president Clarence Campbell acted swiftly as he suspended Richard for Montreal's final three regular season games and the entire Stanley Cup playoffs, an unprecedented move in hockey annals.
Despite warnings from league officials and family, Campbell took his usual seat four nights later on St. Patrick's Day as the Canadiens hosted the Detroit Red Wings.
Infuriated fans began belting Campbell with food and a tear-gas bomb was thrown in the arena following the first period, forcing an evacuation of the Forum.
Campbell decided to forfeit the game to the Red Wings, which preceded the infamous riot.
Angered fans invading the city's trendy St. Catherine Street, hooliganism ensued as windows were smashed and businesses looted, incurring thousands of dollars in damages.
The riot also caused injuries to 12 policemen and 25 civilians, resulting in more than 60 arrests.
As the city braced for more violence, Richard went on national radio the following day pleading with his fellow Quebecers for sanity.
The suspension denied Richard the opportunity at winning his only scoring
title and the Canadiens lost the Stanley Cup to Detroit in a seven-game