Montreal coach Dick Irvin called it the Series of the Deflected Puck, which sounds like a string of mysteries that Agatha Christie should have written. This was in the spring of 1945, back when Leafs and Canadiens used to play in Stanley Cup semi-finals. The Leafs, who won in six games, went on to win the Stanley Cup, beating Detroit; Montreal headed home on the train, a few days after the scene depicted here. No-one among the Canadiens was sadder than Maurice Richard when it was all over, according to The Globe and Mail’s Vern DeGeer:
The Rocket parked in a dressing room chair for several minutes without attempting to remove his equipment. He just sat there shaking his head and mumbling to himself.
Pictured above, a scene from the fourth game in Toronto. Gus Bodnar won it for the Leafs in overtime when a shot of Babe Pratt’s deflected off his his stick and passed by Bill Durnan. Toronto’s Sweeney Schriner — the foxy veteran, Dink Carroll from Montreal’s Gazette called him — scored, too, and while that’s him with elbow pads showing, the goal came earlier.
Here, in the third period, he’s arguing with Montreal’s Murph Chamberlain, numbered 12, a.k.a. Old Hardrock. Jim Coleman from The Globe and Mail noted that he was floored twice in the first period, first by the Leafs’ Jack McLean, then by Schriner. Referee King Clancy called no penalties at the time, but in the third (as told by Toronto’s Daily Star), Schriner threw the first punch of his career at Chamberlain. “They scragged it then,” the Star said, “were broken up.” Both players were excused with minor penalties.
Returned to the ice, they continued their discussions, with Clancy (white-sweatered in the middle) broke up. That’s (I think) Montreal’s Bob Fillion standing by, alongside Toronto’s Mel Hill and Reg Hamilton. The Star was good enough to report the gist of the conversation:
“You oughta give Schriner a major for fighting,” roared Chamberlain.
“You call what you two were doing fighting?” asked Clancy. “Sit down and shut up.”
Notice the front-row fan in the light-hued hat holding up his coat for protection or (possibly) playing at toreadoring. The Globe did report that in this very ruckus a woman ducked a stray punch.