October 29, 2010

Great Rivalries: Cal Gardner vs. Ken Reardon

A self described "rugged hockey player," Cal Gardner knew his share of on-ice combat. late in the 1947 season, he precipitated what has been described as biggest, longest brawl in hockey history. The last place Rangers were playing the league-leading Canadiens in Madison Square Gardens. Kenny Reardon of the Habs was clipped by Gardner's errant stick, resulting in a bad and bloody cut.

On his way to the infirmary, Reardon exchanged pleasantries with players and even spectators. He ended up involved in a tussle with a fan. The entire Canadiens team leaped off the bench and skated across the ice to rescue Reardon, but a pitched battle with fans and police resulted in the corridor.

Reardon vowed revenge on Gardner, signaling the beginning of a bitter feud. The dispute climaxed in November, 1949 when Gardner, by now a Toronto Maple Leaf, had his jaw shattered by Reardon. Desperately hoping to end the feud, NHL president Clarence Campbell forced Reardon while he was on the ice to post a $1,000 bond against future violence!

The feud ended on the ice when Reardon retired at the end of the season, but an intense dislike for each other was said to continue to fester for decades to come.

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