THE GREAT NAMES OF THE FRENCH CANADIAN COMMUNITY

THE CANADIAN FRENCH-SPEAKING WORLD and some of the people who have contributed to its greatness

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Maurice Richard

Date of birth:
August 4, 1921

Place of birth:
Montreal

QuebecProvince:
Quebec

Calling:
Hockey player

 

"Maurice Richard :

when he shoots, North America roars,
when he scores, the deaf can hear the cheers,
when they send him to the penalty box, the switchboards light up,
when he passes, the new guys dream.
He's the wind on skates,
he's all of Quebec on its feet.
He scares the rest &endash; he's life in action."

Félix Leclerc


Photo : Photos et Archives Le Club de Hockey Canadien, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It was in the backyard with his brothers and his father that he learned to play hockey. From his earliest days, Maurice Richard wanted to play for the Montreal Canadiens. His father taught him never to give up, encouraged him to persevere. To achieve his dream, Maurice played for several teams at the same time. He started with the team at his school, François de Laval. Between 1937 and 1939, he played for the Paquettes of the Parc Lafontaine League, and for his neighbourhood team. During the day he studied at the École Technique de Montréal, in the evening he laced up his skates and played hockey. Very quickly, hockey pushed school aside. Maurice trained very hard, playing for five teams at once. He racked up 133 of the 145 goals scored by the Paquettes; he was quickly spotted by the scouts for a Junior team, the Verdun Leafs. The following year, he found itself with the Canadian Seniors of the Provincial League. For the first two years, a long series of injuries prevented him from playing. Despite this, he was recruited by the Montreal Canadiens in 1942: his dream had come true. In his first game, after assisting with a goal, he broke a bone and ended his season. People in hockey circles were starting to ask if Maurice Richard was too fragile to play professional hockey. Stung, he came back the following year with a rush and helped his team win the Stanley Cup. It was the start of a legend.

Richard played 18 years in the NHL. He won eight Stanley Cups. In a single game, he three times scored four goals, 33 times scored three goals and 107 times scored two goals. He was the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games. He was named to the All Stars 14 times. He scored 626 goals and 465 assists in 1,111 games. Even today, he is among the 10 top scorers of the National Hockey League.

Maurice Richard is much more than a hockey player: he is a national hero for French Canadians. The public identifies with him; he is one of theirs. In March 1955, the President of the NHL, Clarence Campbell, suspended Richard following a fight. The suspension put an end to the Rocket's hopes of winning the scoring championship and, worse still, of skating in the playoffs. His fans rose in a body to protest what they saw as an unjust and discriminatory decision by the NHL big-wigs. On March 17, during the first game of the Canadiens-Red Wings series, a riot broke out. Campbell, who was in the stands, was booed, windows were smashed, stores looted and cars overturned.

On September 15, 1960, Maurice "Rocket" Richard announce his retirement. The Canadiens' famous No. 9 won a number of trophies, including the Hart and the Lou Marsh; he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on 1972. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1967, [a Companion in 1998] and Officer of the Ordre National du Québec in 1985.

Since his retirement, Richard has remained as popular as ever with the crowds who cheered him and with his new fans: he travels across Canada to promote hockey as a discipline for young people.

 

 

 

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THE GREAT NAMES OF THE FRENCH CANADIAN COMMUNITY