CBC Digital Archives

Maurice Richard: Stanley Cup hero

Maurice Richard wasn't an outstanding stickhandler. And he wasn't the finest skater the NHL has produced. But he became one of the best players in history through sheer force of will. Driven by desire so fierce his glare unhinged rival goaltenders, the Montreal Canadiens star set numerous records. "The Rocket" became a cultural icon among Quebecers, who so revered Richard that they started a riot when "Saint Maurice" was suspended from the league.

The 12,000 fans packed into the Montreal Forum can almost taste redemption. With a win tonight, the Stanley Cup will finally come home. But as the third period winds down, the Canadiens are on the ropes, behind 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks. Enter the Rocket, who brings down the house with two stunning goals in less than a minute. As we hear in this CBC Radio play-by-play, Maurice Richard seems an irresistible force, carrying the entire city on his back.
• In 1943-44, Richard was matched up with centre Elmer Lach and left wing Hector (Toe) Blake, forming the dreaded "Punch Line." The high-scoring trio became best friends and helped the Canadiens to win the regular season and the Stanley Cup. It was the team's first Stanley Cup since 1931. (The Canadiens would reach the finals for 10 consecutive years, winning six times.)

• The 1943-44 playoffs marked Maurice Richard's real breakout. In the second game of the semifinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Richard scored five goals and was named all three stars of the game.
• The Canadiens took the series and faced the Chicago Blackhawks in the finals, sweeping them in just four games. This CBC Radio clip, featuring another dominant performance by Maurice Richard, is an excerpt from the final game of that series.

• Early the following season, Maurice Richard had another legendary game. On Dec. 28, 1944, he skipped practice and asked coach Dick Irvin for the game off because he'd just finished moving all his furniture, including a piano, into a new house. Irvin convinced him to play, and Richard notched five goals and three assists for a record eight points. (The record would stand for more than three decades, eventually broken by Darryl Sittler's 10-point night on Feb. 7, 1976.)

• During the 1944-45 season, Maurice Richard became the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a single season, which then lasted only 50 games. The record had been held since 1913 by Maurice Joseph Malone, who had scored an astonishing 43 goals in 20 games. No other player would score 50 goals in 50 games until Mike Bossy did so for the New York Islanders in 1980-81.

• Not everyone was thrilled about the success of the Canadiens in the early 1940s. Many team rosters had been depleted by the war effort, and some journalists criticized Montreal for taking advantage of this. According to author Douglas Hunter, Canadiens general manager Tommy Gorman made sure his players secured jobs in vital war industries, thereby avoiding the draft. (By contrast, Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe - who fought in both world wars - encouraged his players to enlist, losing half his team to military service.)

• With the war over and all teams back at full strength, the Canadiens silenced such criticism by winning the Stanley Cup again in 1945-46. Maurice Richard scored 27 goals that season, and seven more in the playoffs.
• In 1946-47 the Rocket scored 45 goals, winning the Hart Trophy for being the NHL's most valuable player.
 • Maurice Richard was selected to the NHL's all-star team 14 consecutive seasons (eight times to the prestigious first team) from 1944 to 1957.

. In the 1952 Stanley Cup semifinals against Boston, Maurice Richard was knocked unconscious by a Leo Labine body check. Still delirious and with blood dripping down his face, he put the puck past goalie Sugar Jim Henry to score the series-winning goal. For many fans, it was the defining moment in the Rocket's career.

. On Nov. 8, 1952, Maurice Richard broke the NHL career goals record, held by Nelson (Nels) Stewart since 1937. Stewart retired in 1940 with 324 goals.
. By the end of his career, Richard would push the NHL regular season goal record up to 544, a mark that was eventually broken by Gordie Howe (801 NHL goals, and another 174 in the WHA) and then Wayne Gretzky (894).
Medium: Radio Program: CBC Radio Sports Broadcast Date: April 13, 1944 Guest(s): Host: Doug Smith Duration: 3:59

Last updated: February 13, 2014

Page consulted on February 13, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Hockey Flight in Canada: extra clips

Canada is a hockey nation, but has had a heck of a time preventing its hockey franchises from ...

Top Ten NHL Playoff Moments

For avid fans of the fastest game on ice, the National Hockey League's regular season is a mer...

1991: Eric Lindros snubs the Quebec Nordiques

The NHL's top draft pick rejects Quebec and returns to the minors.

The Legendary #9: Maurice 'Rocket' Richard

Maurice Richard wasn't an outstanding stickhandler. And he wasn't the finest skater the NHL ha...

Montreal Canadiens at 100

Three colours, 24 Stanley Cups, over 3,000 victories, millions of fans - and 100 years. In 200...

Hockey Flight in Canada

Canada is a hockey nation, but has had a heck of a time preventing its hockey franchises from ...