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Jake Radford

Professor Rhodes

Hockey: The First Century

October 1st, 2017

Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, The Greatest Montreal Canadien of All Time

"La troisième étoile, the third star … Maurice Richard! ....La deuxième

étoile, the second star … Maurice Richard!.... La première étoile, the first star …

Maurice Richard!” (Stubbs) March 23, 1944, Game 2 of the Stanley Cup

Semifinals. The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the game feeling confident after

their dominant display in the opening game victory, winning three to one (Stubbs)

over the heavily favoured Canadiens. However, a young dynamic winger on the

Montreal Canadiens would have a performance for the ages and tie the series for

his squad. Maurice “The Rocket” Richard would go on to score five goals that

night to help lead the Canadiens to a dominant win. This accomplishment has

only been matched in the playoffs three times since Richard’s historic night

(Stubbs). Richard’s record shattering performance would not stop on the ice,

Montreal sportswriter Elmer Ferguson would award all three stars to Richard

(Pelletier), something that had not happened before, and something that has not

happened since. This night would be the first of many amazing nights and

accomplishments for the Rocket and where he would start cementing his legacy

as the greatest Montreal Canadiens player of all time.


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Born on August 4th, 1921 in Montreal, Quebec (Marsh), Joseph-Henri-

Maurice Richard was destined for Montreal Canadiens greatness. After signing

with the Canadiens farm team in 1940 (Marsh), Richard would battle injuries

during his minor league career, hampering his chances of making the big club

from the start. Then, in 1942-1943, Richard would make his debut for the Habs

and change the course of hockey history forever. His NHL career took a small hit

in his rookie season, breaking his ankle 16 games into his first season (Marsh),

but the talent that the young winger displayed was undeniable. The years1943-

1944 would be Maurice’s breakout season. Richard would lead the Habs in goals

with 32, and finish third on the team in points with 54 (hockey-reference). This

would be the year of his famous five-goal playoff game. During his 18 year career

for the Habs, Richard would lead the Canadiens in goals nine times and points

five (hockey-reference). Richard holds multiple team records, including leading

the Canadiens in career goals with 544 (hockey-reference). Maurice Richard

scored 20 or more goals, a team record, 14 times during his career (Wharnsby).

His ability to score at a high level, for such a long period of time was one of his

most amazing accomplishments the Rocket had over the course of his career.

The Rockets historic pace of scoring would help lead Montreal to eight Stanley

Cup victories during his time on the ice (Stubbs). Maurice’s scoring would help

Montreal immensely in their quest for the cup and his 82 career playoff goals

(ourhistory) still stands as the benchmark that all future and present Habs players

strive to beat. When Maurice retired he was Montreal’s career leader in goals,
assists, and points (hockey-reference). Other players have come into the

Montreal franchise and surpassed some of his individual statistics, but no player

can overtake his position as the greatest Montreal Canadien of all time.

Over the course of Maurice Richard’s 18-year career, he was honoured

with countless awards for his accomplishments on the ice. Maurice was named

an all-star 14 times and won the NHL’s Hart trophy in 1946-47(Stubbs) for the

most valuable player in the league. Maurice had an ability to score at such a high

level that he was consistently amongst the league leaders in goals scored,

leading the league in that category on five occasions (hockey-reference). In

1999, the NHL announced they would be giving the leagues leading goal scorer

the “Maurice Richard Trophy” (Stubbs). One of Richard’s greatest

accomplishments was becoming the first player to score 50 goals in a season

(Stubbs). In 1944-45 Richard would score 50 goals in 50 games (hockey-

reference). This record would remain unmatched for over 35 years (Wikipedia).

His goal scoring capabilities are what catapulted him into the spotlight and what

helped create his legacy as not only the best Montreal Canadiens, but also one

of the greatest players the league has ever seen.

Not many players can lay claim to having a greater career than Richard,

numerous all-star appearances, multiple league scoring titles, eight Stanley cup

victories, and the honour of having one of the biggest annual award named in
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His honour. Richards career truly was remarkable and shows why he is the

greatest Montreal Canadiens player of all time.


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Works Cited

“50 goals in 50 games.” Wikipedia, 1 October 2017,


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_goals_in_50_games. Accessed 1 October, 2017.

Stubbs, Dave. “ Maurice Richard: 100 Greatest NHL Players.” NHL.com, 1 January
2017,
www.nhl.com/news/maurice-richard-100-greatest-nhl-hockey-players/c-
284176856?tid=283865022 . Accessed 30 September 2017.

Stubbs, Dave “ Maurice Richards five-goal three- star night.” NHL.com, 23 March
2017,
www.nhl.com/news/richards-five-goal-three-star-night-carries-canadiens/c-
287931282 . Accessed 30 September 2017.

Pelletier, Joe. “Great Moments In Hockey History: Rocket Richard Named 1st 2nd and
3rd star!” Greatest Hockey Legends, 23 March 2013.
www.greatesthockeylegends.com/2013/03/rocket-richard-named-1st-2nd-and-
3rd.html . Accessed 1 October 2017.

Wharnsby, Tim. “The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years, 100 Facts.” CBC Sports, 3
December 2009,
www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/the-montreal-canadiens-100-years-100-facts-1.837294
. Accessed 30 September 2017.

“Maurice Richard.” Hockey Reference, 30 September 2017,


www.hockey-reference.com/players/r/richama01.html . Accessed 30 September
2017.

“Montreal Canadiens Career Leaders.” Hockey Reference, 30 September 2017,


www.hockey-reference.com/teams/MTL/leaders_career.html . Accessed 30
September 2017.