Hal Laycoe

Hal Laycoe is remembered to for two things: the fight with Maurice Richard that ultimately caused the Richard Riot, and wearing glasses on the ice.

A native of Sutherland, Saskatchewan, Laycoe played senior hockey in Saskatoon with both the Dodgers and Quakers. During WWII, he played on the Canadian Postal Corps team as well as both the Winnipeg and Toronto Navy unit teams. He stepped into the NHL during the 1945-46 season, playing 17 games with the New York Rangers, and becoming a blue-line star with the New York Rovers of the EHL. He was named to the EHL second all-star team after the season.

After one regular season with the Rangers, Laycoe was traded to Montreal, but not before taking part in one of the NHL’s wilder Original Six brawls. On March 16, 1947 in the final minutes of a game between the Rangers and Canadiens, a bench-clearing brawl broke out. Despite the efforts of the organist (who played the “Star-spangled Banner”), referee George Hayes, his linesman, and the NYPD, the brawl lasted over ten minutes. One of four main events on the card was Laycoe vs. the Canadiens' Leo Lamoureux.

The Canadiens must have saw something they liked in Mr. Laycoe, as they insisted that he be part of the big trade that sent Buddy O'Connor to the Rangers. The Canadiens landed Joe Bell, George Robertson and Laycoe in return.

In Laycoe’s first two seasons with Montreal, he split his playing time between the Canadiens and the AHL Buffalo Bison. Finally, in February 1951 he found a permanent home when he was traded to the Boston Bruins. Laycoe proved to be a steady member of the defence, helping the team reach the finals in 1953.

The moment that defined Laycoe’s career came on March 13, 1955. Laycoe delivered a hard check to Montreal's Maurice "Rocket" Richard, cutting Richard’s face with a high stick. Richard, bleeding and furious, took off after Laycoe. When linesman Cliff Thompson attempted to pull Richard away, Richard punched Thompson. The incident led to Richard’s suspension for the rest of the season, including the play-offs. Laycoe received a 5 minute penalty, even though by his own admission he “swung [his] stick and struck Richard after feeling a sudden impact against [his] glasses."

Despite Laycoe's involvement in the whole incident it was Clarence Campbell who really drew the ire of the Canadiens' faithful. When Campbell attended the Canadiens' game with the Detroit Red Wings at the Montreal Forum four days later, he was pelted with vegetables and struck by a fan. When someone set off a smoke bomb following the first period, the game was forfeited to the Red Wings.A riot ensued outside of the Forum, with windows broken, stores looted and clashes with the police. Needless to say, it was one of most unique events in the history of hockey.

A few days after the infamous Richard Riot, the Bruins played the Canadiens in the semi-finals, and the Montreal fans’ wrath was directed squarely at Laycoe. Bruins teammate Eddie Sandford recalled, “I drew Laycoe as my taxi teammate. When we got to the Forum, the police were waiting for us, and they escorted us into the building and to the dressing room past a bunch of angry fans. Then every time Laycoe came on the ice, the crowd booed him.” The hostile atmosphere and a determined Montreal team proved too much for the Bruins, who lost the series 4-1.

After the 1955-56 season, Laycoe retired. He had played 531 games with 25 goals and 77 assists. Despite the remarkable fights, he accumulated a rather average 292 penalty minutes.

Laycoe stayed in hockey as a coach and general manager in the Western Hockey League and the N.H.L. With the WHL Portland Buckaroos, his team won seven league titles in 9 years. He also is known as the Vancouver Canucks first NHL coach. His hockey travels also took him to Holland where he coached the Netherlands national hockey team in the 1976-77 season. He would return to the Vancouver suburb of Langley to live out his life, but would return often to Europe as a special assignment scout for the New York Islanders.


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