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Riots erupt after "Rocket" Richard suspension

March 17, 1955

Maurice Richard wielded his hockey stick like a sword at times, but he could cut with the pen as well. The Montreal Canadien had a newspaper column as he played his way into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the 1950s. One target of his ire was NHL president Clarence Campbell, whom Richard described as a dictator who was unfair to French-Canadian players. To many Quebeckers, Richard was another francophone living under the thumb of an English boss. In 1955, after Richard viciously attacked an opponent, Campbell suspended him for the playoffs. Montrealers rioted. Dozens were injured and arrested, property was damaged. Decades later, some see the riot as having been a catalyst for the Quiet Revolution that saw French-speaking Quebeckers gain control over their businesses and institutions. A footnote: The Canadiens lost the cup.

Boston Garden during the bloody third period of the game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins March 16, 1955. Canadiens' star Maurice "Rocket" Richard reacted angrily after receiving a cut to the head from the stick of Boston's Hal Laycoe sparking a melee that left Laycoe hurt and linesman Cliff Thompson hit on the head. In this scene, linesman Sam Babcock and Canadiens' Bert Olmstead hold back Laycoe (rear) at left. At right, Canadiens' Béliveau restrains Boston's Fleming Mackell (8). Concealed by the two fighting players is Richard. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

Smoke rising from a tear gas bomb drifts through the Montreal Forum March 17, 1955 as 15,000 hockey fans protested the suspension of Maurice "Rocket" Richard by National Hockey League President Clarence Campbell. The bomb was set off by a demonstrator at the intermission between the first and second periods. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

An irate fan attempts to get at then NHL president Clarence Campbell (upper right) as he sits in his seat at the Montreal Forum in this 1955 photo. Campbell was the subject of attacks by Montreal fans for his suspension of Canadiens' superstar Maurice "Rocket" Richard. (The Canadian Press)

Men cheer and cover their faces with handkerchiefs to block out tear gas dispensed by police during a game March 18, 1955. Fans began throwing various items at NHL president Clarence Campbell for his season-long suspension of Canadiens star Maurice "Rocket" Richard. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

Fights marked the path of a mob that roamed downtown Montreal's St. Catherine Street March 22, 1955. Rioters broke windows and looted stores in the aftermath that began in the Montreal Forum when hockey fans protested the suspension of the city's favorite player, Maurice "Rocket" Richard. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

Richard sits by radio microphones as he calls for calm during the so-called "Richard Riot" in Montreal March 17, 1955. (The Canadian Press)

A protestor is apprehended by police during the 1955 riot over the suspension of Canadiens' player Maurice "Rocket" Richard at the Forum in Montreal. (The Canadian Press)

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