(Photo: Art Coulson, Blackhawks, from Newspapers.com)
In the long-storied career of the Chicago Blackhawks, they have had only one forfeited game, and that one took place 86 years ago on March 14, 1933, the result of a physical disagreement between the Black Hawks’ head coach and general manager Tommy Gorman and referee Bill Stewart.
Victor O. Jones of the Boston Globe shared the experience of the entire evening with the following introduction “Arthur H. Ross, a hockey manager too hardboiled ordinarily to put too much faith in the potency of rabbits’ feet, black cats or mystic numerals, slept last night with a horseshoe under his Hotel Manger pillow. The only reason he was willing to let the horseshoe, a good-luck token given by Fred Hitchman in Toronto—of all places—get that far away from him was because the pocket of his pajamas would not accommodate the charm which last night pulled the Bruins through an evening of unprecedented melodrama. This morning some 10,000 fans who witnessed what was supposed to be a routine game against the tail-end and crippled Chicago Hawks, are vainly endeavoring to recover from a severe case of the jitters. These jitters were induced by various and sundry situations which would shame a dime novel, but whose sum totality can be expressed in the following summary…”
Jones went on to report the scoring which showed how close the Bruins were to actually losing the game, tying it just two seconds from the end of the third period using six forwards, having pulled the goaltender. However, such experiences while not common are not what most of the fans would find the most surprising on the night.
“Something new went down on National Hockey League records today as Boston Bruins were credited with the first forfeited game in many seasons, aftermath of one of the wildest of Boston’s many wild games,” shared The Daily Province of Vancouver.
The Black Hawks were playing the Boston Bruins in Boston, and despite having been up 2-0, were now playing in an overtime period.
“Before [Tiny] Thompson had had a save to make, [Red] Beattie carried down the left center, and got half through the Hawk defense before losing the puck. In the melee which ensued, the rubber drifted out to Clapper, parked 20 feet away, slightly to the right. Dit let one go, but [Charlie] Gardiner half-smothered the puck. Before he could clear, Beattie and Barry rushed up and shoveled the gallant Gardiner and the biscuit into the goal.” Jones described the overtime goal.
As the Black Hawks were vocalizing their displeasure with goal judge, Louis Raycroft, Hawks defenceman Art Coulter decided perhaps actions would speak louder than words and started to shove his stick through the wire netting attempting to “knock some sense into Raycroft” as he poked Raycroft with the butt end of his stick.
The officials broke things up and sent Coulter to the box for 10 minutes. Things were set for the puck to drop to resume play.
“Before the puck could be faced, Referee Stewart skated past the Chicago bench. The next thing anybody knew, Gorman was punching Stewart over the dasher and the referee, his bald dome positively the color of tomato catchup, was trying to fight off Linesman Bill Cleary and four Bruins in order to get at the Chicago manager,” Jones reported.
There is a sort of irony in the idea of Bruins players of this era stepping in to break up a fight.
“Stewart ordered Gorman to the dressing room and the latter waved his team off with him,” stated The Leader-Post.
At that point the score sat at 3-2 in favor of Boston. The goal had been scored at 3:13 of the overtime period and the Bruins were waiting to conclude the 10-minute overtime period. The currently played sudden death overtime system was not brought into the sport until 1983.
After the Black Hawks exited the game, Stewart dropped the puck for a face off and then called a forfeit with the Bruins getting the win with a score of 3-2.
In addition to whatever possible supplemental discipline may have come from the NHL, by having his team leave the ice before the game was finished, Gorman had opened the Black Hawks up to a possible $1,000 fine.
On March 20, the president of the National Hockey League, Frank Calder questioned Gorman and Coulter on just what happened. “Gorman was charged with having taken a punch at Stewart when he declined to disallow the final goal. Gorman contended the goal judge had flashed his light even before the scorer had made the shot,” stated The Winnipeg Tribune.
Calder stated he was not prepared at that point to make any decision about the incident as he had not yet talked to the Boston team and the referee.
However, by March 24, there had still been no type of fines or suspensions handed to Gorman for his actions. Meanwhile, it was reported that since the March 14th game, referee Bill Stewart had not worked a single NHL game.
- Matt Commito, Hockey 365, Daily Stories from the Ice (Toronto: Dundurn, 2018), Kindle version
- Victor O. Jones, “Gorman Gives His His Hawks the Gate and Bruins Win Anyway,” Boston Globe, Wednesday, March 15, 1933, p. 17.
- “Fist Fight Breaks Up Bruins-Hawks Game,” The Daily Province (Vancouver, British Columbia), Wednesday, March 15, 1933, p. 28.
- “Manager Tom Gorman and Referee Stewart Have Pitched Battle,” The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan), Wednesday, March 15, 1933, p. 11.
- The Winnipeg Tribune (Winnipeg, Manitoba), Monday, March 20, 1933, p. 13.
- Victor O. Jones “Cracked Ice” The Boston Globe, Friday, March 24, 1933, p. 18.