Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Everything You Need To Know About Pat Quinn's Hit On Bobby Orr

You've all seen it...Pat Quinn of the Leafs nailing Bobby Orr close to the boards in the old Boston Garden, April 2, 1969. But here's what you didn't know about it!

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins had some REAL bad blood between them in the previous two seasons! So as the 1969 playoffs opened between them, somehow, you just knew there was going to be something happening. But never would anyone have imagined that it was something like an apocalypse.

The Leafs finished fourth that year (35 wins 26 losses and 15 ties). But Boston, thanks to Phil Esposito’s record breaking 126 points (shattering Stan Mikita’s record of 98 points) and Bobby Orr’s new-record-for-defenceman-64 points, loomed larger than any tough opponent with 42 wins, just 18 losses and 16 ties.

Not only did the Bruins beat you on the ice, they beat INTO you on the ice that year. Indeed, this was probably the year the Bruins became known as the Big Bad Bruins. Or perhaps it was the previous year. Trips to the penalty box were an all too familiar thing to witness in a Bruins game in both 67-68 and 68-69: 1043 penalty minutes and 1297 penalty minutes. No other teams in either season accumulated as many as 1000 penalty minutes.

So what about the hard feelings between these two teams? It started out innocently enough. A November 5, 1967 game at Maple Leaf Gardens saw Brian Conacher of the Leafs high-stick Orr (right across the nose) during a penalty kill (at 5:28 of the second period). An accident? That’s what Conacher claims.

The Bruins thought otherwise, and Orr and his mates unleashed a violent assault on Conacher. First Orr, then John McKenzie, Orr again and finally, Ken Hodge. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Still, Bobby and his teammates were beginning to form a reputation from taking nothing from no one. Even Leaf coach Punch Imlach seemed to think Toronto was pushed around by Boston in that game. By the end of the 67/68 seasons, the Boston Bruins were involved in 48 fights to the Leafs' 16.

When the teams' played again on the 15th, however, it was Toronto's turn to do the pushing. Nothing really violent, but the Leafs drove Gerry Cheevers from the net and won 4-2. Would things calm down?

Boston won the next contest no problem despite Conacher scoring his sixth goal of the campaign. Things did appear to calm down between the two teams, but during an entertaining 3-3 tie on a Saturday, January 6th game in Toronto, Boston and Toronto woke up to some extracurricular activities.

The Leafs were pressing the Bruins' end during the second period. After Cheevers made the save on a point shot from Tim Horton, a scrum ensued. Pete Stemkowski and John McKenzie went at it. Earlier in the affair, Eddie Shack, the ex-Leaf, had gotten into some rough stuff (Though not as serious) with Horton. The game ended in a 3-3 tie as Toronto tied it with just three seconds left. But that sort of got the Big, Bad Bruins wanting more from the Leafs!

Enough that during a 4-1 Boston win on the 29th of February, it was Wayne Carleton and Kenny Hodge squaring off. That, for the mercy of both teams involved, was the last bit of that for 1967/68 from these two teams. At least against each other.

The Leafs missed the playoffs that year, so they were determined not to do that again in 1968/69. They beat the Bruins 2-0 on October 26th at home as Johnny Bower rolled back the clock. But what Toronto could not do was stop the Bruins from doing their thing. Eddie Shack fought new Leaf Jim Dorey. Before that happened, Derek Sanderson fought Tim Horton. Before the night was over, Sanderson delivered a cheap shot on Paul Henderson, who Toronto had acquired late the previous season. Dorey and Shack had another fight on November 24th in Boston. The rest of the game was fairly tame. But how long until...

The next big blowup saw the two teams go at it on January 9, 1969 (in Boston). Just 8:11 into the opening stanza, Glen Sather of the Bruins and Mike Walton of the Leafs decided “Why not?” and squared off. Then, just 39 seconds later at at 8:50 of the first period, a wild brawl broke out in which:

1) Jim Dorey (Leafs) fought off both Dallas Smith and goalie Gerry Cheevers

2) Pierre Pilot of the Leafs fought John McKenzie

3) Orr fought Leaf goalie Bruce Gamble

The Bruins, if it matters, won this game 3-2. Most of the games in Boston that year resulted in BAD losses for the Leafs. And while this wasn’t one of them, the fact that the two teams were slowing building up a lot of animosity towards each other, it was just a matter of time before the sparks really started to fly. Oh, they sort of already had. There was no love lost at this point. Would it escalate any further? Pat Quinn and Bobby Orr hadn't really come face-to-face yet!

The very next game between Toronto and Boston. During a 5-5 tie between the Buds and the Cubs, January 15th, Quinn hit Orr with a cheap shot, and this time the Bruins had someone who they felt they could really take their frustrations out on. At 5:26 of the second period, Jim Harrison (5’11, 185 lbs…Hey! That’s my tale of the tape!) of the Bruins fought Quinn to persuade him from any further attempt. Pat was undeterred. Quinn was not about to let Boston win the fight.

Mike Walton and Johnny McKenzie fought when Toronto came to a visit to Boston four days later. And everyone saw it, too, as it was a Sunday game televised on CBS. But other than that, the most noteworthy even in that game was Bruce Gamble getting some stitches to start the third period. Johnny Bower came in to play eight minutes of the third, but few knew it was him. Bower debuted his new face mask.

In Toronto for a March 15, 1969 game which ended in a 7-4 Leafs win, Quinn incurred the wrath of the Boston Bruins players, coaches and fans when he rammed Bobby Orr into the Toronto net. Orr hit the crossbar…hard!

Why? I guess Patty was protecting his goalie. But Orr took exception to this! And this wasn't the only fight as Rick Ley (An assistant coach years later when Quinn was coaching Toronto) had Wayne Cashman to deal with. I can't believe Ley had a chance.

But soon, Orr and Quinn were going toe to toe in a dandy. Alas, this all came at a cost. Quinn perhaps pushed himself too hard this game to stand up on behalf of Toronto. And an injury did not help. Toronto may have won the game 7-3, but it was Boston who took the next day's game in a laugher, 11-3. McKenzie fought Brit Selby and Forbes Kennedy, who you will read about later, trust me, fought Ted Green. Forbie had just come to Toronto. He would help, believe me. Especially in the never-ending war.

Quinn didn't have too many kind words for Boston in the papers after the win, though. And that was just adding fuel to the fire, Pat! Fight fire with fire, I guess. But with words? Not sure if that is gonna stop 'em!

So how would the Leafs fare against the Bruins in that year’s playoff? The Leafs had played well against the Bruins at home that year, but what about in Boston? Not good. And home ice DISADVANTAGE in that year’s playoffs, it meant the dubious task of playing back-to-back games right there in Boston. Hadn't the Leafs been hammered there enough. Two more times would soon follow.

In no time at all it was apparent that it was another Boston nightmare for the Buds. Led by a Phil Esposito onslaught, the Bruins stormed ahead by a sizable margin. The first period ended with the Bruins up 3-0. Seventeen seconds into the second period, Quinn took a minor penalty along with Ken Hodge of the Bruins. This did nothing to stem the tide. Nor did a fight between Derek Sanderson and Tim Horton, as the Bruins continued the onslaught:




The game was now hopelessly out of reach by the Leafs, but before its conclusion, two historic events took place which Leaf fans never grow tired of telling!

And given the game's final score, it’s a wonder anyone in Toronto wants to remember this game.

It had been pretty tame so far with Quinn and Orr. Maybe they would get through this game without blemish.

“Orr” maybe not.

With a minute and fifty seven seconds left in the second period, Orr grabbed the puck behind is own net and started out quickly on the right side. Bobby Pulford of the Leafs made an attempt to bring his stick down on the puck (and on Orr too?). Orr weaved around and started up quickly along the right side as Brit Selby tried to catch him. Selby angled Orr off perfectly towards the boards. Pat Quinn waited at the blue line. He had Orr dead centre in his sights. Quinn would never have a better chance!

Orr was trapped. And he didn’t know it. AND he put his head down!


Launching all of his six feet and three inches (not to mention 215 pounds) into Orr, Quinn caught him with his elbow (or was it shoulder?). All this time Orr’s head is down, so when his head hit the ice, Bobby was out cold. And Quinn? He just earned himself five minutes in the penalty box for elbowing. But that would soon be the least of Quinn's (And Toronto's) problems.

Ken Hodge did the smart thing, placing his glove under Orr’s head and probably saying a few prayers. After a minute (it must have seemed like forever) Orr came around, his strength returned and took a skate. Concussion! Still very dazed, two of the Bruins supported him as he left the ice. The Bruins advised him to head to the locker room. But he'd be back for game two. And Bobby was excellent when the series shifted to Toronto.

The vengeful Bruins fans were pelting him with everything they had in their hands. Quinn swung his stick at the angry mob and somehow managed to break the pane of glass behind him. Although, what really broke it was all the Bruin fans who were trying to gain entry to Quinn’s dungeon. Before Tie Domi and Philly, there was Patty and Boston! No, that didn't quite happen! You might have expected it, however.

Quinn, as mentioned earlier, had received a major penalty for elbowing. The call had been made. This is still a point of argument by anyone who saw this game: Was it an elbow or a shoulder?

I guess it depends on who you are a fan of. Toronto, or(r) Boston.

On the ensuing power play, Esposito scored his fourth goal of the game with nine seconds left in the period to make it 7-0 Boston. That was it for Bruce Gamble. At the start of the third period, 44 year old Johhny Bower came in to play. And, as easy as 1,2,3 (at 1:23 of the third period), Johnny McKenzie made it 8-0 with another power play goal!

Quinn, the Leafs and the Bruins night was far from over. How did the Bruins respond to the hit? The minute Quinn stepped back on the ice, a few of the Bruins were still mad at him and made sure Pat knew it. How about on the scoresheet?

Sanderson scored his second goal, then Jim Dorey and ex-Leaf Eddie Shack went at it. Both "Got 5". How many times have these two fought? Soon, the Bruins added some more insurance to the total and it was 10-0, Boston. What more could happen?

If you are Leaf Forbes Kennedy (I forgot to mention once played for the Bruins), it’s your last game in the NHL. Remember when I told you you'd hear from him again? Now is the time!

But if you’re going to go, go with some records, right?

Punch Imlach realized that this series was going to be a painful one in more ways than one. He needed something to rally the troops, to get his club going. Game 2, remember, was just less than 24 hours away. This game was obviously a lost cause on the scoreboard. Message sending? There had already been one. Before this night was out, there would be another.

Kennedy, who was acquired on March 2, 1969 in a deal with the Flyers that involved four players, would be right in the middle of it all.

With everyone!

Earlier in the second period, before the Quinn hit, Forbes had gotten into a short melee with Johnny Mackenzie. Both had received minor penalties. They'd see more of each other later, believe me! Kennedy actually received a double minor. Five minutes into the final stanza, Kennedy added another minor penalty to his total. Now as the third period continued, and less than four minutes remained. Just when you think you've seen it all...Forbie was out on the ice, with a short fuse!

So Kennedy skated out to try and fire up the Leafs. What he ended up doing was...

...Start stiring the pot! But he had Gerry Cheevers, the majestic Bruin goalie to deal with first. That's who Forbes started for! But Kennedy didn't make it there at first. Forbie was a man on a mission. And by the time he got to Cheevers, he was not in one piece. No matter, for Kennedy had Cheevers dead center in his sights.

So the two squared off in a short fight. But the Bruins weren't about to let this wild man take down their goaltender. Soon, the Bruins were all around. But Kennedy was off towards Cheevers, again! Johnny Bucyk tried for a second or two, but here comes Forbie! Give Bucyk credit. He tried to stop Kennedy!

Kennedy reached Cheevers and the two squared off in a much better second round! But the fight didn't reach it's conclusion smoothly. See, our boy's actions had attracted considerable attention. There were now other Leafs involved, but who cares? As it turned out, it was more than just the players who were worried about the wild animal that was Kennedy now. It needed to be tamed. As it turned out, all the Bruin players were either a little scared or just plain smart! For a short time, of course!

And Kennedy wasn't going down. As you will soon see, he was lashing out at anyone who was in his path.

And suddenly, the other Leafs were involved as well. At first reluctant, perhaps! Mike Walton came in to get Bucyk off Kennedy and Bower came in to stop backup Eddie Johnston. Then the Leafs backup, Gamble, joined the frey. Fred Stanfield leaned on his hockey stick but stayed away. Ted Green mouthed a few words to either a Leaf player or linesman Matt Pavelich.

Then, the other linesman, George Ashley, decided that enough was enough. He boldly entered the frey, only to be clocked by Kennedy! Knocked him right on his, well, you know! The CBC crew calling the game where having a difficult time calling this one! What was happening here?

Ashley was knocked right over backwards to almost the feet of disbelieving referee Matt Pavelich, who was now trying to restore order between Kennedy and every Bruin who came his way.

But there was still more to come.

As the fight spread along the boards, Kennedy continued the onslaught. Him and Cheevers again! And the Bruins fans, sensing the team was being over-matched by a one man army, entered the scene, too. Forget about the Flyer fan that joined Domi in the penalty box some years ago! This was a million times worse!

About five Bruins fans smacked Kennedy. But that did little. Now in battle frenzy mode, any who dare enter, eat knuckle from Forbes!

Johnny McKenzie watched this all unfolding, and kept his distance.

Forbes, now surrounded by other Leafs and the men in black and white, seemed to calm down.

But then, as he skated by McKenzie, Kennedy heated up again, and the toe went toe to toe! Forbes was about to start really bleeding. McKenzie cut Kennedy below the left eye and got Forbes' jersey off and down to the elbows!

This finally got straightened out and Kennedy was banished from the game. But he had plenty of company in the penalty totals he had just accumulated.

8 penalties in a playoff game (NHL playoff record). 4 minors, 2 majors, a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct.

38 penalty minutes (setting a record that has since been eclipsed).

6 penalties in one period (a record).

34 penalty minutes in one period (a record).

Would the game end mercifully without another penalty? Nope. Who else but Pat Quinn took another penalty with less than three minutes to go and the night came to an end.

Flash forward 41 years later. A young man (who just happens to be the author of this very blog) is at his favourite bar late one summer night and Pat Quinn walks in and is recognized by many there. I stayed away from all this. But as he left, I got up and introduced myself! "Pat!", I said, "Tell me about the night you nailed Orr..."

He smiled and extended a hand!

The information used herein was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by The Hockey Summary Project. For more information about the Hockey Summary Project please visit:



Berger, Howard. Maple Leaf Moments: A Thirty Year Reflection. Toronto: Warwick Pub., 1994.

Diamond, Dan. Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League. Kingston, NY: Total Sports Pub., 2003.

Diamond, Dan. Total Stanley Cup: An Official Publication of the National Hockey League. Toronto, Ont.: Published in Canada by Total Sports Canada, 2000. Print.

McFarlane, Brian. The Leafs. Toronto: Stoddart Pub., 1995. Print.

Podnieks, Andrew. The Essential Blue & White Book: A Toronto Maple Leafs Factbook. Vancouver: Greystone, 2001.

xtHabs789. “Forbes Kennedy Punches Linesman George Ashley.” YouTube, YouTube, 24 Mar. 2016. Web. <>


  1. Obviously written from the point of view of a Leaf's fan.

    Amazing that Orr played the next game. As we've seen recently, hits like this and concussions are no joke. Doctors wouldn't let him anywhere a rink today.

  2. oh man...this is good stuff... back then i was in junior high school in dedham, mass...just outside boston..... they don't play hockey like this anymore.... can't imagine why?!....upon further review of the tape all these years later, quinn's clock-job on orr isn't as malicious as what you see today.... but bobby had his head down and nobody wore hats (mikita excepted)so it looked bad.... good piece of hockey old-timey.... let's see what tonite brings....