The Toronto camp made a countercharge against Detroit Captain Sid Abel. In a bitter editorial, Jim Vipond, sports editor of The Globe and Mail of Toronto, wrote, " Sid Abel, a fine performer and a veteran of the game who should have known better, disregarded the puck when the play finally was resumed. Instead, he slashed at Kennedy's ankle, and Ted has a nasty welt to show for it."
It didn't take long for the antagonists to find a common enemy in NHL President Clarence Campbell, whom they blamed for his failure to prevent the brutality and violence that both preceded and followed Howe's injury. Despite the charge of vacillation, Campbell quickly took a stand on the Howe case and exonerated Kennedy.
"Kennedy," said Campbell, "as a right-handed player, had the butt part of his stick tight to the fence as he was going up the ice. He was being checked from his right. The injuries to Howe were on the right side of the head. Kennedy had stopped to avoid the check, and Howe went in front of him."
The Toronto player was further exonerated in a report by Referee Gravel. But one Detroit paper quoted Gravel as saying he hadn't seen the Howe incident.
Even the mayor of Toronto, the Hon. Hiram McCallum, squeezed into the act and dispatched a message to Kennedy: "The people of Toronto know that absolutely no blame in any way can be attached to you for the accident to Gordie Howe. They are 100% behind you all the way and know you will go on and continue to play wonderful hockey and lead the team to the cup."
Before the opening face-off of the second game of the semifinals two days later, the Red Wing players were chanting. "Win this one for Gordie." The Maple Leafs were bracing themselves for a Detroit attempt to "get" Kennedy.
It started in the second period when Lee Fogolin sent Kennedy rolling with a stick trip. As play halted and Referee Butch Kelling thumbed Fogolin to the penalty box, Ted Lindsay rushed up and cross-checked Kennedy back to the ice. Gus Mortson flew at Lindsay and lights broke out all over the rink. About 20 feet out from the Detroit goal, Jim Thomson fell and Leo Reise bludgeoned him across the head and shoulders with his stick. The Toronto defenseman was momentarily defenseless as Reise, apparently not satisfied, slashed away. By this time Kennedy was on the other side of the rink and Reise moved over to get in some more stickwork, this time across Kennedy's shoulders.
Lindsay returned and rushed at Kennedy, his stick held high: then Abel came on flailing with his fists. A fan grabbed Kennedy and held his arms as other Wings struck the Leaf captain. Toronto Goalie Turk Broda, handicapped by 35 pounds of leg pads, trundled over to assist his teammate. Abel and Lindsay persisted in their efforts at mayhem.
When the fighting finally subsided the penalties were sorted out, the ice was cleared of debris and the game resumed, with Detroit the ultimate victor. The Wings trooped happily into their dressing room with Lindsay marching proudly at their head shouting for all the world to hear: "We won for Gordie!"
But by then the Howe episode was threatening to move to the courts. The Wings claimed that Toronto's Smythe had said: "Two years ago Detroit broke my Gus Mortson's leg, and last year they broke the jaw of Elmer Lach of the Canadiens in the playoffs." Detroit's Adams countered: "We are now suing...for $75,000."