The ungentle athlete (right) who is testing the strength of Madison Square Garden's sideboards with a Chicago Black Hawk is Lou Fontinato of the New York Rangers. He serves the pony-weight Rangers as defenseman and "policeman." He is by far the most spectacular cop on the ice hockey beat these days, and from the galleries he seems to be the last in the fiery tradition of Lionel Conacher, Ching Johnson and Eddie Shore.
The hockey cop's historic duty was to be "take-charge guy" who checked fiercely and quickly punished opponents' transgressions against any teammate. Now the game has become so fast and the penalties so severe that the old breed has disappeared.
Today's hockey men point to Fontinato's lack of polish (he set an all-time record for penalties two seasons ago and again leads the NHL in penalty time) and call attention to Detroit's Gordie Howe, and Montreal's Doug Harvey as fine cops who do little time.
But they have other and larger talents than law enforcement alone, which is precisely why Leapin' Lou, a throwback to the old breed, is, in the public mind, the last of hockey's policemen.
Behind bars after ice fight in 1949, Ken Reardon (right), onetime Montreal "policeman," and teammate await succor from Montreal's Dick Irvin and Chicago's Bill Tobin.
Eddie shore, Boston's disciple of violence, nurses nose after hot 1939 scrimmage.
A LUSTY CHECK BY LOU FONTINATO PINS A CHICAGO PLAYER TO THE GARDEN'S BOARDS