On today’s date in 1953, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard scored the 325th goal of his National Hockey League (NHL) career to become the all-time leading goal scorer in NHL history.
A Montreal native, Richard played 18 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens from 1942-60, during which time he became the first player to score 50 goals in one season (1944-45) and the first player to reach 500 career goals (1957).
In 1947, Richard won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Altogether, he played in 13 all-star games and was named to 14 post-season all-star teams.
Richard retired in 1960 after helping the Canadiens win five consecutive Stanley Cup Championships. At the time of his retirement, he was the NHL’s all-time leader in goals with 544 career goals.
For all his successes, Richard’s annual income was about $60,000 with a total worth of $300,000, he said in a 1960 interview with Sports Illustrated.
Richard also worked in public relations for Dow Brewery and Quebec Natural Gas; owned part interest in a store that sold gas appliances plus a tavern he named “No. 9” after his uniform number; and refereed professional wrestling matches.
2005 CANADIENS COINS
In 2005, Richard was commemorated alongside his former Canadiens teammates Jean Béliveau, Guy Lafleur and Jacques Plante in a four-coin set issued by the Royal Canadian Mint.
Mint engravers used photographs supplied by the Hockey Hall of Fame to capture the players in iconic poses. Each of the 50-cent coins, which were part of the Mint’s “Hockey Legends” issue, had a mintage of 25,000. Struck in sterling silver with 92.5 per cent silver and 7.5 per cent copper, they each have a diameter of 27.13 millimetres and a weight of 9.3 grams.
The coins’ reverse designs depict the respective player in a game situation while the obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
2000 STATE FUNERAL
Richard eventually died on May 27, 2000, at the age of 78.
Lucien Bouchard, then the premier of Québec, offered the Richard family the option to hold a state funeral, which they accepted.
“When we see him go today, we recall our youth, our childhood,” said Bouchard. “He was the man of our childhood, for people of my generation. It’s a bit of our childhood that disappears.”