Decades after the infamous incident, Bob "Killer" Dill still denies it.
Dill's reputation, and his effectiveness as a NHL hockey player, came to an abrupt halt at the hands (quite literally) of Rocket Richard. Dill was assigned the duty of neutralizing the Rocket one night at the Madison Square Gardens. The idea was to intimidate the Canadiens superstar.
Legend has it that as the two tangled for the first time that night, Richard had knocked out Dill with a quick fist to the head before Dill even had a chance to land a punch. Minutes later, Dill staggered to the penalty box, yelling and taunting Rocket the whole way. Rocket, who was in the penalty box already, didn't appreciate whatever Dill had to say. With no barrier to separate the two penalty boxes, Richard leaped into Dill's area, and caught him with another blow, knocking out the big bad Dill for a second time!
"Its a hell of a thing to be remembered for, especially since the incident never took place," said Dill.
"Sure, the Rocket and I had a little set-to in that game and he knocked me down and I was groggy. And yes, we got penalties. In the box, I called him a dirty so-and-so and he reached over and punched me over the eye. It bled a little enough for three stitches as I recall. But that was it. There was no second knockout. Geez the reporters built it up and the books have been written with they story about how I got beaten up that night. You'd think I had been knocked out for 15 minutes the way it was told."
Dill's son Bill Jr. also denies the accuracy of this legend.
Dill Jr. says "I do have the original paper from the famous fight and it does not mention anyone being knocked out etc. It was described like just like my father's description."
While Dill's reputation had taken a beating more so than his body, common sentiment was that Killer Dill's career was ruined because of this incident. He quickly disappeared from the NHL scene after playing in just 76 games, scoring 15 goals and 30 points, plus 135 PIMs.
Not so, says his son Bob Dill Jr.
"The truth is that after the 44-45 season Boston wanted to make a trade for him but Lester Patrick refused because he wanted my father to play for St Paul in the USHL, reason being my father was from St Paul and Lester saw in him as a hometown favorite to draw the crowds which he did for the next 5 years."
"His game never changed," Dill Jr. goes on to say "as he was selected twice to all star teams and lead St. Paul in scoring for a defenseman each of the 5 years and also in penalty minutes."
"Lester Patrick was not a huge supporter of the American player (there were very few in the NHL at that time) and that bothered my father more than any fight, as he had many many more during the rest of his career.
As his son points out, he did go on to a strong career outside of the NHL - a career that was distinguished enough to land him in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
Hopefully this article will help dispel the myth of the Dill/Richard encounter.