If you are a fan of Canadian ice hockey, you must have heard the name of Maurice Richard.
Maurice Richard was a legendary Canadian ice hockey player who played in the NHL from 1942 to 1960. He played as a winger for the Montreal Canadiens.
An icon within Quebec, Richard was NHL’s all-time lead scorer with 544.
Moreover, nicknamed “The Rocket,” Maurice exploited his opponents and also caused the famous “Richard Riot.”
In his 18 years of glorious career at the Montreal Canadiens, Maurice appeared everywhere, from songs to movies.
His name painted streets and public squares. Maurice was honored with a state funeral when he died, a first in Quebec for a non-politician.
Let’s slide into the article and learn more about the legendary and iconic ice hockey player.
Here are some quick facts about Maurice Richard.
|Date of Birth||August 4, 1921|
|Birth Place||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Date of Demise||May 27, 2000 (aged 78)|
|Place of Death||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Father’s Name||Onésime Richard|
|Mother’s Name||Alice Laramée|
|Siblings||7; Georgette, Rollande and Marguerite (3 sisters), René, Jacques, Henri and Claude (4 brothers)|
|Height||5 ft 10 inches|
|Profession||Canadian Ice Hockey Player|
|Associated Teams||Montreal Canadiens, Verdun Maple Leafs|
|Achievements||8x First-Team All-Star NHL, 8x Stanley Cup Champion, 3x Canadian Press Male Athlete of the Year, 1957 Lou Marsh Trophy|
|Children||7; Huguette, Maurice Jr., Norman, André, Suzanne, Polo, and Jean|
|Net Worth||$1.5 million – $5.5 million|
|Merch||Maurice Richard: The Rocket, The Rocket: A Cultural History|
Maurice Richard: Early Life and Childhood
Maurice Richard was born on 4th August 1921 in Quebec, Canada. His father, Onésime, was a carpenter.
Onésime enrolled in a job with the Canadian Pacific Railway after Maurice was born. Their family suffered throughout the Great Depression.
Alice Laramée, Maurice’s mother, looked after the house. Maurice had seven siblings. He was the oldest of them.
Richard had three sisters: Georgette, Marguerite, and Rollande. In addition to that, he had four brothers: Jacques, René, Henri, and Claude.
His brother, Henri, also played ice hockey with the Canadiens.
Maurice received his first pair of ice skates when he was four. He grew up skating on local rivers and also a small ice surface that his father created in their backyard.
However, Maurice did not play organized hockey until he was 14.
He instead played shinny and “hog.” It is a game where the puck carrier needs to keep the puck away from the opponents for as long as possible.
Richard dropped out of school at 16 to work with his father as a machinist. He even enrolled himself in a technical school for the same reason.
Injuries during his stints at the junior level kept him out of the army. However, he desperately applied four times in the military.
Maurice Richard: Relationship, Wife, and Children
Richard met his wife Lucille Norchet at the young age of 16. Lucille was, however, only 13.
The love of his life was the younger sister of one of his teammates at Bordeaux.
Richard was a reserved, shy kind of guy, whereas Lucille was bright and outgoing. They were engaged when Maurice was 20.
Although her parents felt that Lucille was young to marry, she married Richard on September 12, 1942, at seventeen.
The couple had seven children; Huguette, Maurice Jr., Norman, André, Suzanne, Polo, and Jean.
Lucille helped Maurice off his frustrations during trials, injuries, and life in general.
However, Lucille died of cancer in 1994. His girlfriend after the death of his wife was Sonia Raymond.
Maurice Richard: Career
Richard started his career by joining several teams and using pseudonyms like “Maurice Rochon” to jump rules that restricted players to one team.
He led his team to three consecutive championships and scored 133 of his team’s 144 goals in the 1938–39 season.
Maurice joined the Verdun Juniors at the age of 18. He scored four goals in ten-season games and scored six more in four playoff games.
In 1940, Richard was promoted to the Montreal Canadiens’ affiliate team in the Quebec Senior Hockey League.
However, he broke his ankle in his first game and missed the remainder of the season.
He recovered for the 1941-42 season and played 31 games before getting injured again. This time it was a broken wrist that kept him out.
The skills he showed in the QSHL, and the loss of players to the war, and struggles to draw fans earned Richard a tryout with the Canadiens for the 1942-43 season.
Moreover, he signed a contract worth $3,500 a year wearing number 15 and made his NHL debut with the Canadiens.
However, the injuries didn’t stop as Maurice was sidelined with a broken leg after only 16 games.
He intensified his training and returned for the 1943-44 season.
Maurice also changed his number to 9, signifying the birth of his daughter, Huguette’s birth weight of nine pounds.
Maurice played 46 of Montreal’s 50 games scoring 32 goals. His first full NHL season established him as one of the best youngsters in the league.
The “Punch Line”
Maurice played left wings for the Canadiens. Coach Irvin shifted him to the forward line with Toe Blake and Elmer Lach.
The trio, a.k.a, the “Punch Line,” formed a deadly unit throughout the 1940s.
After their formation, the Canadiens lost only six games and went on to win the team’s first Stanley Cup in 13 years.
Maurice was listed in the second team All-star following the win. It was the start of a chain.
He got listed for 14 consecutive years in the league’s all-star team.
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Maurice created a record when he scored five goals and created three more in a 9–1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
Richard continued his scoring rate and in 1945 he broke, Joe Malone’s two-decade-old NHL record of 44 goals in a season.
Maurice then went blank for eight games. He, however, started Montreal’s final regular-season game with 49 goals.
Richard set a record, becoming the first player to score 50 goals playing 50 games.
The record stood for 36 years until Mike Bossy broke it in 1981.
Strong till the end
Maurice lead Montreal to an unprecedented five consecutive Stanley Cup victories starting 1955-56 season.
The season also marked the arrival of Maurice’s younger brother Henri.
The champion finished the season with 38 goals and 71 points. He then added 14 points in 10 playoff games as Montreal claimed the Stanley Cup.
Maurice reached another scoring milestone when he became the first player in NHL history to score 500 goals.
Richard was the oldest player in the NHL for the 1958-59 season at 37. However, he managed to score 38 points in 43 games.
Injuries set Richard back again as he broke his cheekbone. The Canadiens, however, won the Stanley Cup.
He scored a goal and created three assists at the 1960 Stanley Cup Finals before announcing his retirement.
Richard wanted to play; however, his coach, Selke, advised Maurice to hang his boots, fearing a serious injury.
At age 39, “Mr. Hockey” Maurice retired from the game.
Ice hockey is a physical game, so injuries are pretty common in the sport. Richard was well-famous for his violent and physical style of play.
Maurice started his career with injuries. The champion suffered a broken ankle in his first game with Montreal Canadiens in the QSHL in 1940.
He returned in the next season and was injured again. This time Maurice broke his wrist.
Maurice’s rookie season in the NHL ended quickly when he suffered a broken leg.
His string of injuries left observes confused on whether he could compete at the higher levels or not.
During the 1958-59 season, Richard became the oldest player to feature in NHL. Due to a broken ankle, he missed six weeks of the season.
The following year would also prove fruitless as Richard suffered a broken cheekbone and was sidelined.
The Canadian had to retire in 1960 as his coach, Selke, feared a serious injury.
Maurice Richard: Controversies
Richard was basically “the idol of people” and was also the sprinkling salt behind a riot that was the first outburst of modern Quebec nationalism.
Maurice was unstoppable. The opposition had to use resort to violence to prevent him from scoring.
In addition to that, the man had to run past slashes, hooks, and even players draping themselves across his back.
Maurice often retaliated with force. The situation had led to an intense argument with the President of NHL, Clarence Campbell.
During the 1955 season, Richard was penalized for an attack on a player before the playoffs.
Boston player Hal Laycoe struck Richard in the head with his stick. He retaliated by slashing Hal on his head and then punching the linesman when he tried to intervene.
The police intervened and tried arresting Richard for assault. NHL came forward to handle the situation and persuaded the police to let go.
Campbell suspended Richard for the remainder of the season.
Richard had a huge fan following. He was basically the idol.
His fans responded angrily, and Campbell received death threats. The fans even pelted Campbell with vegetables and other things.
The situation started getting out of hand. A fan even threw a tear gas bomb at Cambell’s seat at the arena resulting in a huge evacuation.
Maurice was among many who believed that Campbell treated French Candian players harshly than the English Canadians.
The riot was a result of a mass suppression of emotions and rage.
In the French part of Quebec, the suspension was viewed as an unfair punishment given to a French Quebec (Francophone) by the English.
Over a few days, over 65 people got arrested. Stores were looted, and the damage was estimated at $100,000.
Richard took to the radio, asking for the crowd to be calm and not cause harm.
Maurice Richard: Life after Retirement
After his retirement, Maurice was offered a role as a team ambassador for the Canadiens.
However, after serving for three years as an ambassador, Maurice was given vice-president in 1964.
Maurice felt powerless and resigned one year later. Richard became angrier from the team when his plans were ignored.
Richard eventually refused to allow his name to be associated with the organization.
He had nowhere to go. Maurice then attached his name to numerous brands and organizations.
Richard acted as a consultant for a magazine titled Maurice Richard’s Hockey Illustrated.
He was also the endorser for several products, including hair dye, beer, car batteries, and many more.
Richard, however, returned to hockey in 1972 as a head coach for the Quebec Nordiques. But, he left the job after two games, unable to handle the stress.
In 1981, Maurice redeemed his relation with the Canadiens and resumed his role as an ambassador.
Maurice Richard: Achievements
Richard was fast and fearful. He was known for his violent style of play.
Therefore, Maurice was nicknamed “The Rocket,” complementing his speed, strength, and determination to score.
Maurice was named the Canadian athlete of the year on three occasions.
Moreover, he also received the Lou Marsh Trophy in 1957.
After his retirement, Montreal Canadiens retired his number 9, and the Hockey Hall of Fame waived their 5-year waiting period and inducted him in 1961.
The Canadian Rocket was also given a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Richard became the first non-politician to receive a state funeral in Quebec. He was honored by over 115,000 people at his funeral.
In addition to that, Maurice was also listed 8 times on the First Team All-Star.
The Candian player won 8 Stanley Cups for Montreal Canadiens throughout his career.
Maurice Richard: The Movie
Well, you can imagine the popularity of Maurice in Canada. He was basically an idol for Quebec.
A biopic named “The Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story” was made in the memories of Maurice.
Inspired by the book a movie named The Rocket was made. It starred Roy Dupuis and was directed by Charles Binamé.
Richard played at a time when the second world war broke out.
The loss of players through war and struggles earned him a tryout with the Montreal Canadiens. Maurice then reportedly signed a contract worth $3,500 a year.
Throughout his career, Richard earned fame and money by playing ice hockey in the NHL. He was the sole savior of the Canadiens as he drew in fans.
So, we can imagine his status at the club and the league. His net worth is reportedly estimated to be between $1.5 million to $5.5 million.
Maurice Richard: Death
In 1998, Richard was diagnosed with abdominal cancer.
He defeated cancer, but it returned after a year.
At 78, he passed away on May 27, 2000, in Quebec, Canada.
He was buried at the Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal.
Maurice also played baseball and also had a short stint as a boxer. However, hockey was always his passion.
Henri, his younger brother, also played in the NHL and was Richards’ teammate for over 5 seasons.
Henri was better knows as the Pocket Rocket.
Maurice was best known for dashing forward to the net from the blue line. He was also known for scoring from his forehand as well as his backhand.
Maurice played 978 regular-season games and scored 544 goals.
In addition to that, he also played 133 playoff games scoring 82 goals.
What is Maurice Richard’s most famous record?
Maurice Richard became the first NHL player to score 50 goals in 50 games. He achieved this record in the 1944-45 season.
How much did Maurice Richard make?
He reportedly earned $237,271 ($2,428,983 as of today) over his NHL career.