Fisticuffs and Handcuffs: Legends from the WHA
There are two stories about why Fighting Saints player Gord Gallant punched coach Harry Neale. One is that Neale insisted none of his players had the guts to punch him and Gallant wanted to prove him wrong. The other, and more likely, is that Gallant disagreed with Neale's application of a player curfew.
Either way, the next day Gallant was traded to the Nordiques, whom the Saints played that night. The starting lineup for the Saints included all three Carlsons up front. They dumped the puck into Gallant's corner, and that was the end of Gallant for the night. The Carlsons were nothing if not company men.
A goon was a necessary requirement for team survival in those days. Unfortunately, one goon wasn't enough, especially when Gilles “Bad News” Bilodeau, Frank “Seldom” Beaton, Steve Durbano and Dave Hanson show up at centre ice during warmups, punching their fists into their hands and singing "Hey, Kimmie. We're going to get you." at Jets enforcer Kim Clackson. Clackson developed a sudden shoulder ailment that forced him to miss the game.
Of course, there's also the time the Fighting Saints and Hartford Whalers game degenerated into a 32 minute brawl that included the team trainers chirping each other on the ice. (The full story on that can be found here.)
That sort of behaviour was par for the course in a league where the Carlson brothers were one of the biggest draws. In fact, the night of a game in San Diego against the Mariners, ten fans showed up behind the Saints' bench wearing fake noses and Carlson glasses. Funny as the brothers' teammates might have found it, they didn't dare join in the laughter.
Perhaps one of the best, least-known stories is the time Frank “Seldom” Beaton of the Birmingham Bulls was arrested by the Cincinnati police. Allegedly, he had hit a gas station attendant with a tire iron after the man spilled gasoline on his car.
The next time the Bulls were in town, Cincinnati police were waiting for Beaton after the game, be he had hustled off the ice with the Stingers and climbed out their dressing room window. Thereafter, the police took no chances. They entered the Bulls' dressing room, guns drawn, and the team was forced to give up Beaton's hiding place. The police then handcuffed Beaton to a post to make sure he wouldn't skip out again.
Security? That was just the guy who prevented creditors from getting into the front offices.