Fifty-nine years ago tonight, Montreal exploded. NHL president Clarence Campbell had suspended the Canadiens’ Maurice Richard for the last three games of the 1954-55 season as well as the playoffs for his part in a violent incident on March 13 in a game against Boston. When Campbell attended Montreal’s next game, against Detroit at the Forum, mayhem ensued. With the game suspended at the end of the first period, the chaos moved out into the city. As thousands surged down St. Catherine Street, newsstands burned and dozens of businesses were looted. Police arrested more than 100 people. (The Hockey News recently posted Elmer Ferguson’s account of that wild night, to mark the anniversary.)
The next day, the Rocket took to radio and television to ask for calm. His statement, below, translated from the French; above, Montreal photographer Eric Constantineau’s Lego recreation of Richard’s fraught broadcast. For more of his work, visit his website at www.ericconstantineau.com.
My dear friends:
Because I always play so hard, and because I had trouble in Boston, I was suspended.
I’m really sorry to not be able to be with my mates on the Canadiens in the playoffs.
But I want to think above all of the Montreal fans and the Canadiens players, who are my best friends.
So I just ask fans not to cause trouble, and I also ask all supporters to encourage Canadiens so that they can win this weekend against the Rangers and Detroit.
We can still win the championship. I accept my punishment and I will be back next season to help my club and the young players of the Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup. Thank you.