The Andy Kyle Incident
The Millionaires went on a winning streak over the next month; winning six of their eight games and were able to tie the Halifax Crescents for the lead in the MPHA. The two teams met on January 28th with the winners poised to take over the league lead. Robin Foote, the local boy was given his first game in goal replacing Joe Savard who was out with a sprained thumb. At the end of regulation time, the game was tied at five to five. The game was characterized as a very fast and clean game but as the game went into overtime, it began to get rough. During the opening play of the second overtime, Ken Randall got the puck on a pass from Harvey Richardson and eluded Andy Kyle for a direct line to the Crescent's goaltender. Andy Kyle turned and threw his stick and knocked the puck away from Randall. The referee blew his whistle and called a five minute penalty for throwing of a stick. According to Sydney papers, Kyle then skated away from the ref and leaned on the goal refusing to go to the penalty box. Referee Brown and Ken Randall skated over to Kyle where the ref was able to convince Kyle to leave the ice. On the way to the penalty box Kyle skated up to Randall and punched him on the jaw, knocking him to the ice. Sydney's Mayor, A. D. Gunn, who was in a box near the scene, jumped up and ordered Sydney's chief of police to arrest Kyle for assault. At that point, fans of the Millionaires piled onto the ice and along with a few of the Millionaires players attempted to get at Kyle. Kyle's New Glasgow teammates were able to protect him until two policemen were able to get him off the ice. Kyle was then taken to his hotel room at the King George Hotel accompanied by four police officers and allowed to change out of his hockey gear before being taken out to a waiting carriage staffed by two more officers who took him to the jail for the night. The Millionaires were the eventual winners of the game due to a goal scored by Billy Dunphy.
Mayor Gunn, who was a lawyer by trade, took over the proceedings and began interviewing witnesses right after the game. Ken Randall was called to give his testimony to the mayor. A two hundred dollar bail was ordered by the court. Kyle supplied one hundred dollars himself, manager Cosgrove of the Crescents supplied fifty dollars and Manager Larder of the Millionaires furnished the remaining fifty. The trial started the next day at ten in the morning . Sydney's court house was full with fans and players from both teams. Kyle pled guilty to the charge of assault and when questioned why he had committed the act, replied that he did not know. However, It was revealed during Mayor Gunn's interviews that Randall had called Kyle a coward after he had thrown his stick. Magistrate J.C. Townsend decided that since this had happened during a hockey game he would not be too severe and fined Kyle the minimum of a fifteen dollar fine and court costs totaling two dollars and seventy five cents. President Lithgow, hearing about the situation sent a telegram to secretary Buckley stating that it would be discussed at the next MPHA meeting.
Kyle was interviewed by the Halifax Echo newspaper after he arrived back in Halifax. He claimed that the crowd had "got on him as soon as he got on the ice, chanting throughout the game, Put Andy off". When questioned about the incident he replied to the reporter by stating "if a fellow called you a coward. Would you stand for it?" answering his own question he then supplied "No, I plugged him". Kyle did have some good words to say about Sydney's management claiming that President Larder had treated him well during the incident. In response to Kyle's interview, Randall stated that he did not deliberately call Kyle a coward, that when Kyle had thrown the stick and cost him a goal he said "that is a coward's trick".
MPHA President Lithgow, upon receiving the referee report was infuriated with Sydney police for interfering in what he considered an internal matter of the MPHA. J. H. Brown of Moncton was the referee for the game and sent in the following report about the incident.
In reference to the arrest of Kyle, I would say that the dispatches sent out from Sydney are not correct. The troubles leading up to the arrest are as follows:-
Randall was coming down the ice with the puck and was in Crescents territory, when Kyle coming from behind threw his stick on the ice to prevent a score. I immediately blew the whistle and penalized Kyle. I went over to the penalty box and was giving the penalty recorder the foul and the class it comes under when I heard a blow struck behind me and turning saw Randall down on the ice and Kyle standing beside him. I immediately caught hold of Kyle and the crowds surged over the sides and on to the ice.
The police rushed up and held him, the mayor appeared at the same time and ordered him arrested which I claim was entirely uncalled for. The police should have given him protection against the crowd on the ice as to the spectators it looked like an unprovoked assault whereas Randall skated up to him and called him coward and provoked the assault.
Randall was not penalized for this as it took place while my back was turned and I did not know that Randall was near Kyle, let alone speaking to him until I saw him down on the ice. In the excitement I could not get any information regarding Randall insulting Kyle. If I had, Randall would most certainly have been severely penalized.
The dispatches claimed that Randall followed me to the penalty box, he did not, also that Kyle refused to go off the ice, he did not. What I claim is this, while Kyle should not have lost his head to the extent of hitting Randall, still Randall in my opinion is as much at fault as Kyle as he provoked the assault by calling Kyle a coward.
In response to this report, Mr. Lithgow contacted manager Larder and expressed his displeasure with how the situation was handled. He also fined Ken Randall five dollars for leaving his place on the ice and subsequently following Kyle to the penalty box.
A rhyme in a local newspaer commented on the incident that had occurred between Randall and Kyle that resulted in Kyle's arrest and subsequent charge:
(From Kyle to Randall)
I'm sorry if your face I've kicked
or if your head with dents I nicked
But dirty play I didn't mean.
I hate to crack you on the bean
and thus to show my love you swine
I send you this cute valentine.