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Sketches of Canada for March 17th!

Canadian History for Kids: Richard Riots

March 17, 1955 – Hockey – Montreal Canadiens star Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard- suspended from NHL

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at the infamous Richard Riots.

St. Patrick’s Day, 1955 will be a day Montreal will never forget.

In Boston on March 13th, 1955, Maurice Richard became riled at Boston Bruin’s Hal Laycoe – a former teammate and a tennis buddy of Richard’s. Laycoe had high-sticked Richard, and the Rocket got even with crazy stick swinging duel.

Richard lumber jacked Laycoe several times – including at least once to the face – eventually breaking his old wooden stick over a fallen Laycoe. When linesman Cliff Thompson tried to get involved, Richard struck him down, too, landing multiple punches.

Boston police tried to get involved, but they were unable to arrest Richard as his team-mates stood in their way. Eventually Boston Bruins management was able to convince the police that this was a matter for the NHL to handle. Richard was never arrested.

NHL president Clarence Campbell suspended the great Maurice (The Rocket) Richard for the rest of the regular season and the entire playoffs.

It was NHL president Clarence Campbell who suspended the Rocket, and it was no long before he was receiving threatening calls. But Campbell refused the advice of Montreal police not to attend the March 17th game against visiting Detroit. The fans in the Montreal Forum were very hostile towards Campbell, with another 10,000 gathered outside of the building.
Fans approached Campbell with insults and threats all night. Garbage was thrown his way. One fan fired a tomato his way, splattering both Campbell and his female companion. Another fan actually sucker punched Campbell, but he refused to leave.

Then all heck broke lose as a tear gas bomb we set off near ice level. The building was evacuated. Detroit, ahead 4-1, was awarded the game by result of forfeiture.

Canadian history for kids has learned that the night was still young in Montreal and soon all mayhem broke out outside of the arena. The crowd smashed windows along Ste-Catherine Street. Stores were looted, newsstands were set on fire and cars were vandalized. The undermanned police could not control the crowds. The police enlisted the help of the Rocket himself. He helped police to calm to crowds through a plea in a radio address.

The riot resulted in 37 injuries (including 12 police officers), over 100 arrests and approximately $100,000 (approximately $1 million in today’s dollars) in property damage.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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