Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion Gets Angry – 1967

How To Get A Three Game Suspension

Bernie Geoffrion cross-checking linesman Walter Atanas February 8 , 1967

Bernie Geoffrion cross-checking linesman Walter Atanas February 8 , 1967

Bernie Geoffrion was one of the all-time hockey greats. In 1960-61 he became the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season, following his teammate Maurice “Rocket” Richard who had accomplished the feat in 1944-45. Geoffrion, who was one tough player, broke his nose six times and received over 400 stitches playing hockey. The “Boom Boom” nickname however came from his hard slap shot not from pounding other players. After playing his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens from 1950-1964, Geoffrion retired. But two years later Geoffrion came out of retirement to play with the New York Rangers during the 1966-67 season.

On February 8, 1967 Geoffrion lost his cool during a game at the Boston Garden. In the closing seconds of a game that the Bruins would end up winning 2-1, angry Ranger fans littered the ice with debris over a perceived missed penalty call.

After a ten minute delay to clear the ice play resumed with two seconds remaining on the clock. There were three false starts that linesman Walter Atanas claimed were caused by Geoffrion going offside. Atanas and Geoffrion started yelling at one another and Geoffrion then allegedly slapped an empty beer can in Atanas’ direction.

Atanas skated over to referee John Ashley to have Geoffrion assessed a ten minute misconduct penalty. Geoffrion followed Atanas across the ice, cross-checking him twice. Geoffrion later claimed he never cross-checked Atanas, but had merely tripped on an empty beer can. The photographic evidence proved otherwise.

One week later, NHL President Clarence Campbell suspended Geoffrion for three games. Campbell said, “I consider his actions in cross-checking official Walter Atanas to be completely inexcusable and a product of his own temperament, which has gotten him into similar trouble on at least two other occasions.”  Geoffrion was also fined $25 and $50 for the misconduct and game misconduct penalties.

The previous two times that Geoffrion was suspended was when he was with the Montreal Canadiens. Both incidents also involved altercations with officials.

Geoffrion finished the season with 17 goals and 25 assists in 58 games. After the 1967-68 season Geoffrion retired for good. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

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