Game 321 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 0

Game 321
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 0
Wednesday, December 9, 1953
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Amid a last minute shamble of penalties and bench clearing by the referee following a mass outbreak on the ice, the Maple Leafs trounced the Montréal Canadiens 3-0 at the Gardens last night.

It was a situation unprecedented in modern pro hockey – and perhaps all time – with referee Frank Udvari issuing an unofficial record total of 234 minutes in penalties over the entire game. Seventeen 10-minute misconducts – nine to the Leafs – and four majors – two to each team – came out of the mass brawling that started with less than two minutes of the game remaining.

All players on the two benches had moved onto the ice to take part in the donnybrook in some capacity. After a more than 10 minute delay while order was restored, Udvari imposed four major penalties for fighting – two to each team. Then, he ordered to the dressing room all players who had flowed onto the ice from the bench. It was a scene of confusion and noise.

That meant that, when the game restarted, the teams played four a side over the last 108 seconds. The benches were as bare as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard in a strange scene never before equalled. The majors for battling went to Jim MacPherson and Tom Johnson, Habitant defencemen, and Leaf forwards Ron Stewart and Eric Nesterenko.

Udvari, in imposing the mass misconducts for players leaving the bench, acted on a rule which says:

“No player may leave the players’ bench at any time to enter an altercation, but substitutes shall be permitted providing the players so substituting do not enter the altercation.” Infringement calls for a misconduct penalty and $25 fine.

Almost lost in the roaring hysteria of the crowd of 13,426 was the fact that Harry Lumley had completed his fourth shutout, and had to be plenty sharp at times to earn it. The goal-getters were George Armstrong, Ted Kennedy and Sid Smith, with Smith notching his 10th to be the first Leaf to reach double figures in the goal column this NHL term.

The tension began moving toward the breaking point early in the goalless last period. Three successive minor penalties to the Leafs heated the crowd, and when the third penalty to Ron Stewart left the Leafs shorthanded two players for 28 seconds, a barrage of debris, including programs and paper, stopped the game for a few minutes until the ice was cleared.

Then, with little more than five minutes of the game remaining, the first outbreak came. Tempers flared between George Armstrong and “Spider” Mazur along the boards. They were separated and assessed roughing minors after trying to get at each other.

In the penalty box, they jostled, then swung into action and were separated by local law laddies. That brought misconduct sentences to each, plus removal to the dressing room and automatic $25 fines.

Altogether, the record bag of 19 misconducts will, if enforced in every case, pour $475 in fines into league coffers. Udvari, however, was said to have told one player he would attempt to have the fines revoked in some cases.

One case in point would be Fern Flaman. The strong Leaf defenceman was on the ice at the time the mass outbreak began, joined in the scuffling, but escaped penalty. Yet, when he went to the Leaf bench and sat down when it was over, he was among those ordered from the bench to the dressing room.

As to the big brawl, it could have been far more serious. No one was injured beyond bruises and minor cuts and, in many instances, players were content to wrestle and hold after dropping sticks and gloves.

It started from comparatively mild scuffles between Rudy Migay and Johnson, and then Nesterenko and Olmstead. It spread to a general shoving bee and, when the fists started flying, some of the substitutes, who had come on to relieve players, joined in and were joined by the remainder of the players from both benches.

Lumley statyed in his nets throughout. Goalie Gerry McNeil of the Habs, with the battle raging around him, skated out of his cage in an attempt to separate two wrestlers on the ice.

Leaf boss Conn Smythe, who had come down from his seat in the greys in time to stand behind Armstrong and Mazur in their penalty box do, wound up beside coach Dick Irvin behind the Hab bench for the big one. Both were shouting at Udvari.

Those who finished out the last 108 seconds – with no one to relieve them in case of injury – were, for the Leafs, Lumley, Kennedy, Tim Horton and Hugh Bolton, up from the Ottawa Senators to replace knee injured Jim Thomson. For the Canadiens, it was McNeil, Olmstead, Butch Bouchard and Johnny McCormack.

Throughout the game, a total of 40 penalties were issued, including 19 misconducts, four majors and 17 minors. Ten of the misconducts were to the Leafs, as well as nine minors and two majors. The total of misconduct penalties, however, remains unofficial pending a sorting out of players involved, and an official report to NHL headquarters.

The previous NHL record for penalties came when 25 were issued a year ago last October in Detroit, during a game between the Leafs and Red Wings. Those 25 were made up of 19 minors, four majors, one misconduct and one game misconduct.

As to last night’s hockey, the Leafs beat the Canadiens to the punch most of the way, and had the breaks, and most of the speed. It was their third win in as many games here over the Habs, who have beaten the Leafs a similar number of times, without defeat, in Montréal.

Armstrong opened the goal-getting in the fifth minute of the game on a sizzling shot that fell to the ice from McNeil’s leg pads and was knocked in by a defender. The middle period was 45 seconds old when Ted Kennedy, in front of the net, managed to get the heel of his stick on a pass from the side by Smith.

The same Smitty completed the humbling of the league leaders with a low backhander with little more than three minutes of the second period remaining. Jim Morrison had carried up to make the pass on a ganging attack with Paul Masnick off for hooking.

NOTES: Amid all the confusion and crowd roaring when the benches were cleared, the Royal Regiment band broke into “Dragnet”…Danny Lewicki, up from Pittsburgh, didn’t get a chance to show much. He was in action for less than six minutes, both at centre and left wing.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 10, 1953

1st Period
MTL PEN – 03:42 – MacPherson, holding
TOR PP GOAL – 04:56 – Armstrong
TOR PEN – 06:55 – Morrison, interference
MTL PEN – 14:33 – Masnick, hooking
TOR PEN – 17:17 – Sloan, hooking

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 00:45 – Kennedy (Smith)
MTL PEN – 01:15 – McCormack, tripping
TOR PEN – 09:10 – Nesterenko, tripping
TOR PEN – 14:30 – Solinger, hooking
MTL PEN – 16:07 – Masnick, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 16:36 – Smith (Morrison, Kennedy)
TOR PEN – 17:35 – Watson, hooking
MTL PEN – 18:00 – Harvey, hooking

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 00:37 – Armstrong, slashing
TOR PEN – 09:33 – Lewicki, holding
TOR PEN – 11:05 – Stewart, charging
MTL PEN – 12:14 – Richard, tripping

TOR PEN – 14:45 – Armstrong, roughing + misconduct
MTL PEN – 14:45 – Mazur, roughing + misconduct
MTL PEN – 17:08 – Harvey, holding

MTL PEN – 18:12 – MacPherson, fighting major
TOR PEN – 18:12 – Nesterenko, fighting major
MTL PEN – 18:12 – Johnson, fighting major
TOR PEN – 18:12 – Stewart, fighting major + misconduct

MTL PEN – 18:12 – Gamble, misconduct
TOR PEN – 18:12 – Boivin, misconduct
MTL PEN – 18:12 – Geoffrion, misconduct
TOR PEN – 18:12 – Lewicki, misconduct
MTL PEN – 18:12 – MacKay, misconduct
TOR PEN – 18:12 – Sloan, misconduct
MTL PEN – 18:12 – Masnick, misconduct
TOR PEN – 18:12 – Smith, misconduct
MTL PEN – 18:12 – Meger, misconduct
TOR PEN – 18:12 – Watson, misconduct
MTL PEN – 18:12 – Mosdell, misconduct
MTL PEN – 18:12 – Richard, misconduct

TOR – Lumley (W + SO, 20-20)
MTL – McNeil (L, 20-23)

TOR – 7+7+9 = 23
MTL – 6+4+10 = 20

TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Hugh Bolton, Fern Flaman, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison. Forwards: George Armstrong, Ted Kennedy (C), Danny Lewicki, Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Bob Solinger, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Eddie Mazur. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Calum MacKay, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard.

TOR – 13-8-6 (.593)
MTL – 17-10-2 (.621)