Kenny Reardon was one of the most feared players in the late 1940s. Beginning his career at the young age of 19 in 1940, Reardon was not the kind of defenseman to wow you with great offensive skills like those of Babe Pratt or Flash Hollett, but was more known for his solid defensive play and daunting aggression and physicality. Reardon played in 34 games during his rookie season. After his relatively uneventful rookie campaign, Reardon stepped up his game for his sophomore year and led all Canadiens defensemen in points while establishing himself as a figure to be feared. Following his first two years, Reardon left the NHL for three seasons to aid the allies in World War II.
Reardon’s first season back in 1945-46 featured just 9 points in 43 games, but his defensive and physical play was recognized as he was still awarded with a spot on the Second All-Star Team. The Montreal Canadiens, now a much stronger team than when Reardon had left in ’42, won the Stanley Cup at the end of the year to top it all off. The 1946-47 season was perhaps the greatest of Reardon’s career, as he set new personal bests of 17 assists and 22 points, finishing fourth in points among NHL defensemen in 52 games. Reardon was honoured with a spot on the First All-Star Team for the first time in his career.
Due to his physically punishing play style, Reardon was oft-injured and never played a full season, bu the 1947-48 season was the closest he got. Playing in 58 of 60 games, Reardon had another 22 points, this time setting a new personal best of 7 goals. The late 40s were an era devoid of offensive defensemen, so despite his relatively low point totals, Reardon finished tied with Bill Quackenbush for 2nd in points among defensemen. Reardon’s offense dipped to 16 points in the 1948-49 season, though he was still on the Second All-Star Team at the season’s end.
The 1949-50 season’s expansion to 70 games also saw several defensemen increase their offensive production, including Reardon. While Reardon scored only 1 goal, he destroyed his previous best with 27 assists for another personal best in points of 28, while playing 67 games. Reardon finished third in points among defensemen and made his way on to the NHL’s First All-Star Team again. Unfortunately, Reardon’s reckless style of play prompted him to retire shortly before his 29th birthday, a remarkably young age for a star defender in the NHL.
Reardon was given the honour of representing an NHL All-Star Team for all five seasons after he returned from the war, a testament to how consistent he was, even through his constant injury problems. Reardon would later move into front office roles and eventually serve as a vice-president for the Canadiens in the 50s. Despite his short playing career, Reardon was well-remembered for his play in the late 40s and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.