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Friday, January 20, 2012

Jan 20--Lou Fontinato

Lou Fontinato

  Leapin' Lou Fontinato, so-called because he left his feet when delivering body checks (some claim the "Leapin'" referred to his antics when called for a penalty when he would jump up and down while berating the referee) was a rugged defenseman. He started his career with New York during the 1954-55 season.
"Fontinato did indeed rule the hockey wars - until Howe challenged him that famous night in 1959. It all started ironically enough, when a Detroit player thudded against a young Ranger rookie named...Eddie Shack. Shack, still a season away from joining the Maple Leafs, was a main principal in the proceedings, as Fontinato recalls things. Shack was being his usual rambunctious self, and his aggressiveness was lifting the entire Ranger team. Rangers were winning 4-1 when Detroit's Pete Geogan, a hard hitting defenseman, decided to do something about Shack. He bounced him into the boards so hard that Shack's flying body broke a sheet of protective glass bordering the rink. This set up a chain reaction of events in which Shack later tangled with Howe. Shack wobbled away after getting caught up with Howe's stick and later required three stitches.
Fontinato was the Ranger policeman, the self appointed protector of youngsters like Shack. Fontinato remembers skating over to Howe and saying, "Keep your stick to yourself and lay off Shack." It was his job to issue such threats. Thirteen seconds later, Howe and Shack collided heavily behind the Detroit net. Howe lost his footing as Shack skated away in pursuit of the puck.
Howe was scrambling to his feet when Fontinato came out of nowhere and knocked him down again with a solid check. Sticks and gloves hit the ice, and everyone semed spellbound as Howe and Fontinato rolled and scuffled in the area between the goal and the end boards. Howe snatched Fontinato by the shirt and tagged him with a series of uppercuts. Fontinato got in a few good shots himself, dislocating Howes finger and opening a gash over one of his eyes. Several days later it was also discovered that Howe's ribs were broken. Press accounts of the event varied wildly. According to the New York papers, the confrotation lasted les than a minute and the outcome was indecisive, but a Detroit paper put it a full 3 minutes and declared breathlessly that Gordie Howe was the new heavyweight champion of hockey. What made Fontinato clearly a loser were the photos published in the next day's papers his nose, already broken four times, was mashed and bloody and looked like a rudder swung hard to starboard. Though each played the remainder of the game without incident, after the game Fontinato entered the hospital for surgery on his busted nose. "
Fontinato's career came to an abrupt and violent end in 1963 at the Montreal Forum when he missed a check on left-winger Vic Hadfield of the Rangers behind the Montreal net, slammed head first into the boards, and became paralyzed for a month.
He played in a total of 535 games and scored 26 goals and 78 assists. He had 1247 penalty minutes.

Received these blue ink signed cards TTM.

Return envelope postmarked ????

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