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Maurice “Rocket” Richard (1921-2000) – The True NHL Legend

History of the NHL knows many outstanding hockey players, and NHL top scorer Maurice “Rocket” Richard was undoubtedly not just one of them, but exceptional. He was not just a true legend, but also the icon of the Montreal Canadiens. He became the first hockey player to score 50 goals in a single season and a participant in thirteen All-Star Games. By the way, if you want to delve into the story of Richard, we would highly recommend you to watch the French-Canadian biopic “The Rocket”, the film, which won nine awards, instead of gambling at casino canada!

“Maurice Richard Trophy” is an award presented annually by the National Hockey League to the author of the highest number of goals scored each season since 1999. The prize was a gift from the Montreal Canadiens to commemorate the first player in league history to score 50 goals in 50 games, 50 goals in a season, and 500 in a career. The first winner of the trophy in 1999 was Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks. A multiple-award winner was also Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames (2002, 2004). Richard won the Stanley Cup eight times with Montreal, the last four as team captain. 

He was born August 4, 1921, in Montreal to Onésime and Alice Richard. During the Great Depression, they experienced great hardship – the family had to rely on government assistance. Maurice got his first pair of skates when he was four years old and spent a lot of time skating on the local rivers and the rink his father filled in the backyard every winter. He didn’t play organized sports until he was 14, honing his skills by playing “backyard” hockey with friends. Maurice also dabbled in baseball and boxing, but only hockey became his true passion. In the 1938 and 1939 seasons he scored 136 points with the Verdun Maple Leafs in junior hockey. 

At the time he was working as an assistant to his father, who served as a machinist, and he heard more and more that it was time to get into the real business. He led one of the hockey teams he played for to three consecutive league titles, and of the 144 pucks his team scored in the 1938 and 1939 seasons, Maurice scored 133. By the start of the 1941-42 season, Maurice had recovered from his injury sustained in 1939 and collected 17 points in 31 regular season games, but in the playoffs he was hit by a hard check, broke his wrist, and again missed several months. After the end of World War II, many hockey players returned to the NHL, and the league regained its former strength. Richard remained a star and in the new conditions: became the best sniper, was consistently named a league all-star, took with the Canadiens two Stanley Cups, and in the season-1951-52 planned to lead the club to a third. 

In addition to his success in sports, Richard was very active in fighting for the rights of the French-speaking population of Quebec. Once the league disqualified Bernie Geoffrion for the rest of the season for unsportsmanlike conduct, Richard believed that his partner was penalized only because of his French origin and lashed out at then-NHL president Clarence Campbell. He was truly an outstanding man and ended his career on a wave of tremendous success: his team was considered a dynasty in the NHL, and his name was known to every child in Quebec.

After his fascinating career, Richard became vice-president of the Montreal Canadiens, but after a couple of years, he resigned from the NHL. He also published in magazines and wrote numerous columns in Montreal newspapers. In 1998, Richard contracted abdominal cancer and died suddenly in May 2000. He was given a state funeral, which is how important public figures are given a state funeral, but an exception was made for him. He was exceptional, however, he always was a modest down-to-earth guy. And that’s why all the French Canadians love him. 

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