Rocket to get state funeral

The decision to give hockey icon Maurice Richard a state funeral is appreciated by his family but his sons said they don't want things to get out of hand.

"My father was someone very simple," Maurice Richard, Jr. told a news conference where funeral plans for his 78-year-old father were announced.

"He didn't like extravagance, so we're trying to do it the way he would have liked it. We're a little afraid it will get too big."

The funeral is being arranged by the Montreal Canadiens hockey club in consultation with the family. Premier Lucien Bouchard offered to make the rites a state funeral and the family agreed.

Known as the Rocket for his lightning speed on the ice and the blistering power he put behind a puck, Richard became a sports icon after 18 record-setting years with the Montreal Canadiens.

He died from respiratory failure on Saturday evening.

Rocket to lie in state

The legendary right-winger will lie in state at the Molson Centre on Tuesday, so his adoring fans can pass by his open casket to pay their respects.

The centre is about a kilometre from the now-closed Forum where Richard wowed home-town fans.

People wanting to pay tribute to Richard with a written message will be able to sign a register at the Molson Centre until 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

A book of condolence has also been set up at city hall, said Montreal Canadiens president Pierre Boivin.

Funeral to be held Wednesday

On Wednesday, the Rocket will be taken to the ornate Notre-Dame Basilica for a Roman Catholic high mass to be celebrated by Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte.

The service will be broadcast live on television and projected onto a giant screen to be erected outside the basilica for the expected crowds of admirers.

"I would expect people to come from all parts of the world," Boivin said of the funeral. "Maurice touched people during his career and his life well beyond the boundaries of the city of Montreal."

Cortege route still not confirmed

Plans are still being finalized for the route of the funeral cortege.

Canadiens officials said it will likely travel down Ste-Catherine Street -- the scene of many Stanley Cup parades and the avenue torn apart by fans who rioted in 1955 to protest Richard's suspension after a brawl.

Mourning continues

An outpouring of public sympathy, which began as soon as Richard's death was announced, continued Sunday.

People, some dressed in Canadiens sweaters and wiping away tears, left flowers and cards outside the home of the goalscoring great on a quiet, tree-lined Montreal street.

Richard died Saturday evening after battling inoperable abdominal cancer.

He had also been battling Parkinson's disease and died 12 days after entering Hotel-Dieu hospital on May 15.

The Rocket lapsed into a coma Friday night but rallied somewhat Saturday morning, surprising hospital officials with his fighting spirit.