March 13 fell on a Sunday in 1955 and as the NHL season wound down, the first-place Montreal Canadiens paid a visit to Boston to play the Bruins. The third was when all hell broke loose. With six-and-a-half minutes remaining and Boston leading 4-1, the Bruins’ Warren Godfrey took a holding penalty. Montreal coach Dick Irvin pulled his goaltender, Jacques Plante, and Canadiens went to the attack. It was then that Bruins defenceman Hal Laycoe, 32, high-sticked Canadiens’ superstar Maurice Richard, 33. Tom Fitzgerald of the Boston Globe gave it a decidedly more passive spin in his description: “Laycoe’s uplifted stick caught Richard on the side of the head.”
In the fight that ensued, blood flowed as both players swung sticks and threw fists, and in the chaos of it all, Richard punched linesman Cliff Thompson. “Thompson tried to pop Maurice right back,” Fitzgerald wrote, “but landed short, and meanwhile Laycoe flung his red-drenched towel at [referee Frank] Udvari, earning his misconduct.”
The coverage next day in Boston also included the headline above in the Daily Record and the artist’s impression below, from the Boston American. NHL President Clarence Campbell wasted no time in suspending Richard for the remainder of the season and the playoffs, a sentence that would have consequences in Montreal four days later.