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Peace on earth, good will toward all

As reported in today's New York Times, it was 30 years ago today that the Boston Bruins went into the stands at Madison Square Garden after a New York Rangers fan reached over the glass and took the stick of feisty Bruins forward Stan Jonathan after a 4-3 Bruins win.

I had been a Bruins fan for about five years at the time, and this episode remains among my favorite hockey memories, first, because it shows what kind of a team the Bruins were at the time, and second, it involved the hated Rangers.

The story is nicely written, with the greatest sports quotation of all time coming from Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers, explaining why he didn't get involved in the fracas. And the video clip—grainy as it is—captures the action and the spirit of the donnybrook. Better yet, the festivities are described by my all-time favorite hockey broadcast duo, Jim Gordon (play-by-play) and Bill "The Big Whistle" Chadwick. The best part is (and you have to look quickly) when Bruins defenseman Mike Milbury pulls a fan's shoe off and then hits him with it.


(All is calm, all is bright)


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 23rd, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
Great story! Though I wasn't alive at the time, it really captures the spirit of the tenacity, force and somewhat bizzare nature of the B's teams in the late 70s. I would've killed to see the B's from back then... you were lucky!

I think that's the most important thing that this year's Bruins team is missing: an identity. I'm not sure how many games you've caught this year, but the product on the ice looks uncertain and unconfident on many nights. Peter C. knows what kind of team he wants the B's to be, but I'm not sure the players do right now.

Hopefully Lucic's return will help spark them a bit.
Dec. 23rd, 2009 03:43 pm (UTC)
So many memories: Stan Jonathan bloodying Pierre Bouchard in the playoffs in 1978, Wayne Cashman smiling while he and Garry Howatt threw nuclear haymakers at each other during another playoff series, John Wensink knocking the Sabres Larry Playfair unconscious with a huge hit during Playfair's first shift in the national league ... oh, and they had some guys who could play the game with unparalleled skill, too: Rick Middleton, Jean Ratelle, Brad Park, to name just three.

The quote that best describes the B's of that era comes from Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, probably the scourge of the league and one of its most feared players when Schultz played for the Philadelphia "Broad Street Bullies" Flyers in the mid-'70s. Schultz said, "We Flyers had five tough guys. The Bruins had five tough guys and five nut guys. I couldn't sleep the night before a game at Boston Garden."

Ah, if only the Bruins today had a Terry O'Reilly, Something that wasn't in the Times story today was a quote from O'Reilly, talking about what it was like in the stands at Madison Square Garden. He had a Rangers fan in a headlock and said to him, "Excuse me, sir, how much did you pay for your ticket? Are you getting your money's worth?"
Dec. 23rd, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
That was so classic. Brings back a lot of memories. I used to like the Flyers back in, I think '75, when they set the record for fighting penalties. I remember when I was young and seeing the Blackhawks play with Bobby Hull in his prime, Mikita, etc. Sad to say, I haven't watched a hockey game in a decade.

Dec. 23rd, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
Sad to say you haven't missed much, Jeff. Not many end-to-end rushes anymore, not many tic-tac-toe 3-on-2 breaks, or even 2-on-1's. It's dump-and-chase, cycle the puck, throw it on net from the point and hope for a tip or a rebound ... dull stuff.

One of my indelible hockey memories is of Rick MacLeish going in on a clean breakaway against Billy Smith in a big game in the '70s, with MacLeish's hair streaming behind him before he top-shelfed a wicked wrist shot. Those Flyers were tough; I think the hockey fans here in Western New York still hate them for beating the Sabres in the 1975 finals.
Dec. 24th, 2009 05:29 am (UTC)
Those Flyers also battled in the stands. Some fans at the Spectrum instigated a fight with the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 6, 1972. Unfortunately, those Flyers aren't the ones skating for pay right now.

Thanks for the link. It's a good read.
Dec. 24th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked the story, Tim. The year I became a hockey (Bruins) fan was 1974, when your Flyers beat my B's in six games to win the Cup. Game 6 was in Philly, and Kate Smith sang the National Anthem before the game. When she did so, the Flyers hardly ever lost. Just when she got to "rocket's red glare," I was hoping Bobby Schmautz would skate from the Bruins bench and give her a two-hander across the ankles. No such luck, and Boston lost 1-0 on a puck that hit a skate and changed directions, fooling Bruins goalie Gilles Gilbert.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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