Unsportsmanlike conduct on the ice has generated public outcry since the founding of the NHL back in 1917. Although some Hockey Commissioners attempted to discipline offenders with lengthy suspensions for serious misconduct, for a long time, fans tolerated a lot of bad behavior from hockey stars.
Quite a few violent incidents led to fairly mild punishments. This has caused some critics to complain that the NHL remains too permissive in sanctioning hockey rink antics.
All that may change soon. The NHL recently established a Department of Player Safety and it has begun cracking down hard on club-wielding players. The 26 most brutal NHL suspension of the past in the intensely competitive world of pro hockey include several famous players:
26. Maurice Richard
Maurice Richard’s name deserves inclusion on a list of brutal NHL suspensions mainly because of events that resulted after disciplinary action against him. The hockey star retired in 1960 with an impressive record of 544 goals.
During the post-World War II period, the use of violence to intercept star players became pronounced in hockey. Popular Maurice Richard played with the Montreal Canadiens between 1942 and 1960.
During a game in Boston on March 13, 1955, Hal Laycoe of the Boston Bruins landed a blow on the Canadian with his stick. Maurice Richard attempted to retaliate and a lineman stepped in to prevent a scuffle. Maurice Richard punched him and the incident created outrage in Boston.
NHL Commissioner Clarence Campbell considered the matter for two days, before announcing that he had decided to suspend the Canadiens star for the remainder of the season. This ruling meant that the Canadiens would lose one of their most valuable team members during the playoffs.
It reportedly did not sit well with fans in Montreal. When Commissioner Campbell attended the playoff game in Montreal later in March, 1955, an angry Canadiens fan threw a tear gas canister into the stadium. Officials evacuated the event, and a riot erupted. Reportedly an angry mob looted stores and injured 37 people.