Dec 13, 2011, 6:03 PM EDT
Hector “Toe” Blake is one of the most revered characters in hockey history. He won the Stanley Cup 11 times (three as a player, eight as a coach), is a Hall of Famer and, in 1982, was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
Also, he was kinda psycho.
Blake coached Montreal for 13 years and is still the winningest coach in franchise history. Yet it’s the way he coached that left an indelible mark on the league and most notably, its referees.
Blake does not opt for dialogue when he disagrees with an official. He prefers getting right to the point, which may be located anywhere on the anatomy of the referee in question.
In 1961, in the semifinals of the cup playoffs, Blake became incensed over a tripping call. He raged across the ice and threw a long, looping right hand at Referee Dalton MacArthur. Even though he missed, he was fined $2,000.
During the finals against Chicago last April, Blake was exasperated by some of Vern Buffey’s calls. After the game he skidded toward Buffey, intent upon elevating that referee’s jaw. His players restrained him, but on his way into the dressing room Blake managed to uncork his right at a fan—and missed again.
Moments later he popped his head out of the dressing room and bawled to reporters: “You all saw the game. You all saw what happened. Now let’s see how much guts you’ve got.”
Interesting footnote to this story: In 1945-46, Blake won the Lady Byng trophy — awarded annually to the player that exhibits the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.
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