Kind of another project I've been working on lately is watching the great series between John Kordic and Jay Miller. It's arguably the greatest fight series of all time in the greatest hockey rivalry of all time - The Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins. Without further introduction:
April 10, 1986: Off a face off Jay Miller is attempting to get the Bruins going and initiates a scrap with Habs rookie John Kordic. The gloves come off and the fists start flying. Both guys are throwing hard and fast punches, Kordic with lefts and Miller switching hands. Kordic is landing better but Miller returns the shots, eventually Kordic lands a couple more lefts and Miller goes to the ice off balance. I had each guy throwing/landing over 20 punches. Miller with the extra penalties on the play for instigating, win to John Kordic. Here's the clip:
Kordic would go on to win the Stanley Cup that spring with the Canadiens.
Round 2: December 13, 1986
This one starts along the boards in the Boston zone, Miller is mixing it up and helping out defensively, while Kordic is looking for trouble on the forecheck. Kordic pushes Miller a couple of times and Miller looks tired, and doesn't respond. Kordic keeps up the prodding and eventually they drop the gloves and come together. This one is all Kordic, as he lands lefts quickly and often! Left after left comes down and Miller is only offering token resistance. Kordic tires visually and Miller responds with a couple weak punches but Kordic keeps going and the linesmen come in to stop the fight. Win Kordic! Clip is here:
Round 3; (Same game)
Miller goes looking for revenge and drops his mitts, and Kordic does the standing turtle and Miller skates away in disgust. No decision, Moral loss to Kordic for being a coward:
Here's an article on the fights:
Kordic's fists, brain don't help Habs; Rugged winger's suckering of Bruins' Miller doesn't pay off
By DAVID JOHNSTON. The Montreal Gazette. Dec 15, 1986.
Bruins 4, Canadiens 2
Ten minutes after the Boston Bruins had defeated the Canadiens 4-2 Saturday at the Forum, the home team's dressing room was empty, except for two players: John Kordic and Mats Naslund.
When the Canadiens win, the room is full of players prepared to answer reporters' questions. When they lose, most shower quickly and take refuge in an adjacent locker room, out of bounds to the media. That's where they put on their street clothes.
Win or lose, the co-operative Naslund always stays in the dressing room to accommodate reporters, and by extension, the public. But had anyone suggested before the game that Kordic would be the game's third star, and would attract more media attention than Naslund, few would have believed it.
But a funny thing seems to have happened to the 21-year-old Kordic as a result of his 10-game demotion to the minors last month. He left a dejected fighter and has returned an improved hockey player. At least, he's now a fighter with markedly better hockey skills.
Kordic, who had scored in last Thursday's win over the New York Rangers, almost scored one goal and came close to setting up two others in Saturday's loss to the Bruins. His speed, shot and confidence have all improved.
The line of Kordic, Brian Skrudland and Mike McPhee was the Habs' best line in the game. "They worked well together," said coach Jean Perron.
Kordic established himself early in the contest when he humiliated Bruins enforcer Jay Miller in a one-sided fight. Miller's antics in the last Canadiens-Bruins encounter Nov. 20 in Boston helped spark a wave of brawling that grew into a benches-emptying brawl when Chris Nilan shoved Ken Linseman at the Boston bench.
The key moment in Saturday's game occurred early in the third period, with the game tied 2-2. Claude Lemieux and Sergio Momesso had scored early in the game for Montreal, while Boston had tied the score with two quick goals (Keith Crowder and Linseman) midway through the second period.
With both Kordic and Miller following the play in Boston's end, Miller dropped his gloves and went after Kordic. But Kordic refused to fight back, taking about five punches before linesmen separated the two players. Result: Miller was assessed a fighting major and the Canadiens had a five-minute power play.
But for the fifth consecutive time this season, the Habs failed to score with the five-minute man advantage. After killing the penalty, Rick Middleton scored twice, once into an empty net, to give Boston the victory.
Kordic's effective play, and the ineffective power play, were the main highlights - and lowlights - of the Canadiens' play.
In the sparsely populated Habs dressing room afterward, Kordic recalled his brushes with Miller in rather matter-of-fact fashion.
"As soon as we first got on the ice together, I knew we were going to fight," he said. "When it was over (with Kordic the clear winner), he said to me, 'What are you trying to do? Look good on Hockey Night in Canada?' "
Though Miller had instructions from Boston coach Terry O'Reilly not to go after Kordic with the score tied in the third period, Kordic said he goaded Miller into dropping his gloves. Said Kordic: "I kept saying, 'Come on Jay, drop your gloves; come on Jay, drop your gloves.' If we had have scored (on the ensuing power play), it would have looked like a great move."
Bruins goalie Bill Ranford played an exceptional game, but Perron was nevertheless dismayed by his team's lack of attack.
"It was another bad game offensively," he said. "You have nights like that, when nothing you touch seems to go in."
Round 4: January 12, 1987
Kordic throws a hit along the boards and Miller gets the gloves off quickly and the fight is on! Both guys are throwing hard, Miller is switching hands between lefts and rights, and Kordic exclusively left. Kordic lands a couple shots, and Miller nails him with a solid uppercut, and a couple minor shots before the linesmen get in quickly. Hilarious commentary during the fight as Sanderson gives the win to Miller halfway through the fight than says Kordic "isn't that talented." Edge/win to Miller, here's the clip:
Round 5: February 16, 1987
This one starts on an offside/delayed penalty call, and after the whistle both players get the gloves off quickly. Kordic gets a fast start and fires off half a dozen hard lefts that seem to land as Miller is off balance and struggling to get his footing. Miller recovers and they get in close and Miller's jersey comes off, and Kordic scores with a rare right. Miller comes on with a couple of nice right uppercuts in tight that score and the rest of the fight is inside work, with both players landing although Miller lands slightly better. I gave the win/decision to Kordic, here's the clip:
Round 6: November 16, 1987
This one starts off a face-off, both guys are staring at each other and the gloves come off and they square off... Both guys are shadow boxing and they get in close. Miller lands a couple of short rights and Kordic gets in some lefts. They grapple a bit and Kordic gets some separation and lands 4-5 hard lefts. They get back in close together and have a great back and forth exchange, Miller with rights and Kordic with lefts. Than they separate again and Kordic lands the best punch of the fight, a beauty left that snaps Miller's head back. They get back in tight and than they wrestle each other to the ground. Hilarious Bruin homer commentary of action that didn't happen in this one as well:
Here's an article on the fight:
Knee injury sidelines Trader for 4-6 weeks
By RED FISHER. The Montreal Gazette. Nov 14, 1987.
Canadiens defenceman Larry Trader has been lost for four to six weeks, and probably longer, with strained ligaments in his right knee.
Trader was injured late in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. The gravity of his injury was determined at the Montreal General Hospital yesterday shortly after the team returned from Boston.
Trader's injury leaves the Canadiens with five defencemen - Chris Chelios, Craig Ludwig, Rick Green, Mike Lalor and Petr Svoboda. There are no plans to recall a defenceman from the minors.
The injury to Trader occurred when he tried to avoid a bodycheck from Boston's Cam Neely late in the game.
"I saw him coming," said Trader, "and my skate got caught in a rut when I tried to get out of the way."
Canadiens management has been pleased with Trader's work since he was acquired from the St. Louis Blues for Gaston Gingras. He has been used fairly regularly and played very well.
Predictably, teammates yesterday expressed concern for Trader's injury, but most of the dialogue was reserved for a subject most players don't like to talk about - or even enjoy.
In this corner, wearing bruises under his left eye and black and blue knuckles, Canadiens heavyweight John Kordic.
In the other, wearing several of Kordic's knuckles, Jay Miller, the Boston Mangler.
Both fought toe to toe and nose to nose Thursday in front of what appeared to be an admiring group of players from both teams. It was, in every way, an awesome exhibition involving two gladiators blessed with a remarkable amount of toughness and stamina.
Who was the instigator?
"I started it," Kordic blushingly confessed yesterday. "They were running us around. I wanted to calm things down."
Kordic has a strange way of "calming things down."
Midway into the first period, at a time when the Canadiens and Bruins were locked up 1-1, the teams lined up for a faceoff at mid-ice. Right-winger Kordic was beside left-winger Miller, which in itself attracted a loud reaction from the sellout crowd.
"Let's go," Kordic said to Miller.
Miller didn't respond.
The puck was dropped and, when Miller turned to follow the play, Kordic crosschecked Miller across the back.
"Let's go," he told Miller again.
Both players dropped their gloves - and went.
"You can't hurt that guy," said Kordic yesterday. "Once, I brought my fist from away back, hit him right between the eyes, and he didn't budge. I couldn't believe he didn't go down. Maybe," sighed Kordic, "I caught him with the end of my punch, instead of the middle . . . know what I mean?"
The fight was a savage one only because of the number of punches landed by both players. Most judges would have ruled it a draw.
So was the penalty-box dialogue between Kordic and Miller.
"Good fight, John," said Miller.
"Yeah," said Kordic.
The dialogue started anew later, when both lined up beside one another on the ice and with the crowd howling for a return match:
"One's enough for tonight," Miller said to Kordic.
"OK" replied Kordic, "but don't you sucker me."
"It's never happened and it never will," said Miller.
Kordic and Miller, who have fought seven times and will probably be involved in their eighth the next time the Bruins and Canadiens meet, have emerged as special people, if only because it's clear they've developed a healthy respect for each other - despite an even healthier dislike for one another.
"He's pretty honest," said Kordic. "He's not dirty with his stick. He won't run somebody like Mats Naslund.
"On the other hand, maybe he knows I'm there."
Kordic makes it clear that whenever the Bruins are the opposition, it's Miller time.
"When I go into a game, I know I'm gonna end up fightin' Miller," said Kordic. "All the people expect me to fight him. The press and radio and television people expect me to fight him.
"It's crazy sometimes, the way people expect these things to happen. The last game we played, I come out of the rink, see, and they're askin': 'How come you and Miller didn't fight?' I heard that for about two days . . . over and over again. Everywhere I went, all I heard was: 'How come . . . how come . . . how come?'
"Does that make sense? I mean . . . in the winter time, it doesn't snow every day. I don't ask how come!"
Round 7: February 17, 1988
This was the infamous end of the game brawl that took place. At the end of the game both teams were on the ice and the players were all milling about when Kordic and Miller found each other out of the pile. As usual Kordic starts off fast and lands a few but Miller weathers the storm, and quietly begins a comeback landing some inside shots. As the camera pans back and forth Miller keeps wearing down Kordic and eventually tosses him to the ice, and climbs on top of him. Miller could have really killed him but chose not to... Win Miller:
Here's an article on the fight:
Habs, Bruins each fined $25,000 for post-game brawl
By BOB MORRISSEY. The Montreal Gazette. Feb 19, 1988.
What's $50,000 among "friends"?
That's what Canadiens' management is asking itself today after NHL executive vice-president Brian O'Neill fined the Habs and the Boston Bruins each $25,000 yesterday for their post-game brawl following the Habs' 3-2 win Wednesday night at the Forum.
According to a new rule, teams are fined $25,000 if their players engage in any altercation other than during the game. The rule was adopted after the Philadelphia Flyers and the Canadiens got into a punch-up during the pre-game warmup prior to a playoff game last season.
Late yesterday, O'Neill was still waiting to view a tape of the game. Once that's done, he'll decide if furthur disciplinary action is appropriate. For instance, the rule stipulates that the aggressor of such a brawl - and a good morning to you, Shayne Corson - is liable to a 10-game suspension.
"However, the rule states that a player must use fisticuffs in instigating such an incident," O'Neill said.
The Bruins felt Corson triggered the six-minute melee when he shoved - not punched - Bruins' Bob Sweeney after the final siren as players from both teams skated onto the ice, as is customary. That shove, if it was a shove, would rule out any suspension for Corson.
While O'Neill was attending to league matters, the Canadiens were busy preparing for tomorrow night's game against the Quebec Nordiques at the Forum. After snapping their five-game losing streak the night before, they were in good spirits throughout their hour-long workout.
When it was over, the media sought out tough-guy John Kordic, who had taken on his counterpart with the Bruins, Jay Miller, during Wednesday's wild finish. The fight ended with Miller straddling Kordic, who was looking up at the Bruin player's raised fist.
Kordic didn't agree with most observers that he lost the fight badly.
"Look at my face," Kordic said. "There's not a mark on it."
Then Kordic added: "Where was he (Miller) when it came to fighting man-to-man? When we grabbed each other he said 'no, no,' like nuthin' was gonna' happen. Then when I turn my head to see what was goin' on he throws a punch."
Kordic said Miller only got him down after grabbing his pants. "Just because he happens to land on top of me, how does that make him the winner? How many times have I kicked the ---- out of that guy, anyway? Don't worry, we play them one more time. Maybe I'll do to him what he did to me: Hit him when he's not lookin'."
Two Habs, Ryan Walter and Sergio Momesso, missed yesterday's practice because of injuries. Walter has a sore back and Momesso came out of Wednesday's game with a five-stitch cut on the inside of his ankle.
Momesso was accidentally nicked by a skate during the brawl and only disovered the cut when he removed his skates. The injury felt fine after ice treatments at home but when Momesso woke up yesterday morning, he could hardly walk and had to be supplied with crutches.
Momesso scored against the Bruins and also continued to play aggressively - something several Canadiens are expected to do in the wake of the Chris Nilan trade to the New York Rangers. It's called earning respect.
Did coach Jean Perron tell Momesso to be more aggressive?
"He didn't have to," Momesso said. "Just because Chris isn't here we still have to play tough. All the coach said was that everybody has to do what's necessary when it (fights) happens."
Momesso said that when it comes to scrapping the Canadiens are at a disadvantage compared a team such as the Bruins.
"With the exception of John (Kordic), our guys who fight - like me, Shayne (Corson) and Mike (Lalor) - are regulars. But the Bruins' fighters - like May (Alan) and Plett (Willi) - hardly play so if they're kicked out they're not missed."
Lost in the post-game hoopla was the fact that the Canadiens played a solid defensive game. Although the Bruins often had the Canadiens pinned deep in the Montreal end, Boston had few good scoring chances. In fact, neither did the Canadiens until the third period.
"I thought we played well defensively," said Petr Svoboda, who played tremendously alongside his buddy, Chris Chelios. "You have to when you're trying to come out of a slump (five games). We didn't want to try anything fancy - just get the puck out."
Svoboda also said the Canadiens' lack of offence was understandable.
"Because of the slump, maybe we're lacking some confidence," Svoboda said. "When that happens you're timing's off and it can affect your passing."
Round 8: April 22, 1988
Maybe the most fun scrap of them all! It was a playoff fight which are always great and it was the second fight in the same stoppage of play. Started off as a typical Kordic/Miller fight, toe to toe in tight exchange, and going all over the ice. Both guys are throwing with mean intentions and than they grapple some more. Kordic gets Miller down in a very similar position as Miller was in their last fight, but he doesn't hit him. They get back up and Miller lands a couple and the linesmen come in to break up the fight while Kordic throws two more. Draw. Here's the clip:
Round 9: January 6, 1990
This would be the last fight in this tremendous series. Kordic was now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Miller was with the Los Angeles Kings, but the hatred was still there. This fight was discussed in the warm up, and carried over to the game. Just another classic - Kordic just dominated early, overwhelming Miller with left after left... But Miller has seen this show so many times and methodically begins his comeback, waiting for Kordic to tire. Miller than starts picking Kordic apart landing rights and imposing his will now. Kordic rallies slightly and eventually the linesmen come in and I Felt Kordic did enough early to hold on for the win. Clip is here:
So there you have it folks! What an absolute bunch of wars between these two gladiators. Neither guy backing down, neither guy giving an inch. Giving hockey fans an intense rivalry within a rivalry. Maybe one of the all time greatest feuds between two players. Any thoughts, opinions, stories or memories would be greatly appreciated.
| "The Hand is fine, I got a shot of chromosome yesterday."|
John Kordic on the status of his hand.