Gotta See It: Kings-Rangers crazy ’81 donnybrook

With the Kings and Rangers hooking up for the Stanley Cup Final, we look back at the last time they battled (literally) in the playoffs, in this crazy 1981 brawl.

Even if Chris Kreider flies skates-first into Jonathan Quick accidentally on purpose and Dustin Brown steals Mark Messier’s last bag of Lay’s, the 2014 Stanley Cup Final should be less hateful than the last time Gary Bettman’s favourite teams faced off in the playoffs.

Rewind 33 springs ago to April 9, 1981.

With the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings facing off in the second game of their second (and most recent) playoff tilt — a preliminary best-of-five set — a good ol’ fashioned donnybrook broke out following a nasty sucker punch.

With the Rangers leading both the series and the game 1-0, the Kings tried to get at Ron Duguay and his majestic locks. A scrum formed in the L.A. zone.

With referee Bryan Lewis holding Kings tough nut Rick Chartraw, New York defenceman and general badass Barry Beck suckered Chartraw with a hard left, knocking the L.A. player on his “fanny” and bloodying his gorgeous yellow-and-purple sweater.

Beck (1,016 career penalty minutes in 615 games) was given five for fighting, more penalties were dished out, and the Kings took advantage, coming back to lead 2-1 as the first-period buzzer sounded.

With L.A.’s Dave Taylor hanging around New York’s zone past the buzzer, some Blueshirts took exception.

Cue the mayhem:

Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne squared off with punchy Ed “Boxcar” Hospodar. And future NHL general managers Jim Rutherford (L.A.) and Don Maloney (New York) both got into the jersey-yanking action.

Rangers enforcer Nick Fotiu was serving an eight-game suspension for hopping into the stands in response to beer-throwing fans in Detroit. Watching from the stands, Fotiu snatched and slammed a Kings fan into the glass; Kings goalie Paul Pageau and security needed to calm Fotiu down. All the while, the organist played on.

In total, more than 200 minutes in penalties were handed out, 142 of them to the visiting Rangers. Hospodar himself racked up 39.

The Rangers would lose the game 5-4 in overtime, but finished off the Kings in a pair of high-scoring, even-tempered affairs back at Madison Square Garden.


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