Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One Crazy Game

If one were to compose a top-ten list of the strangest games ever played in the NHL, for certain this one would make the grade.

On February 27, 1926 the Toronto St. Pats played host to the Montreal Maroons at Arena Gardens. The first two periods proceeded without incident, then the fireworks exploded in the third. The initial signs of trouble occurred when Babe Seibert of the Maroons and Bert "Husky" Corbeau were assessed match penalties. Seibert's stick struck Corbeau in the face, resulting in the St. Pat's player chasing his opponent down the ice. It took players from both teams to pry these two combatants apart. All this led to a lengthy delay in the action.

Newspaper headline, March 1, 1926

Later in the final frame, the St. Pats thought they had scored when Norm Shay took a pass from Hap Day and shot the puck into the Maroons net. However, the puck quickly rebounded out of the net, and Montreal carried the puck out of their zone. The officials ruled that the puck never entered the net. At this stage, a goal judge required police protection from angry fans.

Pleading the case on behalf of the St. Pats was their centre Jack Adams (Yes, the Detroit GM from 1927 to 1962). Complicating matters was Adams refusal to leave the playing surface. With him on the ice, to confront the referee, the St. Pats had 6 players in play (including the goalie). Taking into account Corbeau's match penalty, 5 not 6 players were required.When Adams finally relented, more trouble developed.

Toronto St. Pats right winger Cecil "Babe" Dye took possession of the puck and wouldn't hand it over to referee Bobby Hewitson. If there was ever a big league example of "I'm taking my ball and going home" this was it. At his boiling point, Hewitson left the ice and refused to continue with his duties. Another extended delay took place before Hewitson (Hockey Hall of Fame, 1963) returned and play resumed. The bizarre action displayed by Dye is amazing. This alone rates a high placement on the strangest games played list.

The Maroons defeated Toronto 4-3 in that Saturday evening contest. In light of the hectic third period, much of the talk the next day most likely didn't involve the final score. The conversation was probably dominated by the Seibert/Corbeau battle, the Norm Shay non-goal, the Jack Adams shenanigans, and most of all, Dye's act of petulance.

A strange game, indeed.

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