Coutu’s 1927 lifetime ban still a controversy

Wilfrid (Billy) Coutu
Ex-Habs captain banned in 1927

The 30-game suspension handed New York Islanders’ Chris Simon last week is being described as the most severe punishment ever meted out by the National Hockey League against one of its players.

That’s subject to debate, The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs writes today.

On April 13, 1927, Boston Bruins defenceman Billy Coutu attacked referee Jerry Laflamme in an Ottawa rink corridor following Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final, the Senators having just won the league title, and was suspended for life by NHL president Frank Calder.

While the rugged native of North Bay, Ont., was reinstated five years later at the request of the Canadiens, for whom Coutu had played eight seasons, he never again saw NHL action.

Special thanks to Habs Inside/Out reader Sue Mead for planting the timely seed of this story. And look below for a full, classic photo of Coutu.


Billy Coutu, photographed outside Mount Royal Arena in the mid-1920s, was a rugged defenceman who unfairly was banned for life by the NHL’s first president, Frank Calder.
Rice Studios Photo, via Gazette files

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