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Canadian History for Kids: Rocket Richard

He always thought of himself as simply a ‘hockey player’. But few others share that opinion of the man who is considered the greatest player of his era.

Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard’ scores 325 goal of his career, on November 9th, 1953, becoming the all-time leading goal scorer in NHL history. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at the career of ‘The Rocket’.

The stare. The fierce temper. The blazing speed. The never say die attitude. That’s the Rocket. Maybe the most revered athlete to come from the province of Quebec.

This Canadian History for Kids article begins when Joseph Henri Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was born August 4, 1921, Maurice Richard was the eldest of eight children. His younger brother Henri Richard (The pocket rocket) would later play with him as a Montreal Canadien.

Richard played minor ice hockey at all levels in the Montreal area before playing junior in Verdun, starting in 1938. By 1940, he had moved up to the Canadiens senior team in the Quebec league. He broke his ankle and played only one game. He returned and played the whole 1941-42 season for the senior Canadiens. However, by the time he first tried out for the NHL Canadiens in 1942, he had suffered several injuries and he was a considerable risk for the Canadiens to take on.

This Canadian History for Kids article continues in 1943 when Maurice Richard’s first child was born, Huguette, and she was nine pounds. Richard, who had been wearing number 15, asked to change his number from 15 to 9. It was a new start for him with the Canadiens. Richard played the full 1943–44 season, and scored 32 goals and 54 points.

And he just continued to score! This Canadian History for Kids article continues on November 9, 1952 when Richard scored his 325th goal to overtake Nels Stewart and become the all-time leading goal scorer in NHL history. The puck was sent as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II in 1955.

When he left the ice for the last time, Maurice Richard did so as the NHL’s all-time scoring leader, with 544 goals and 965 points to his credit in regular season play.

The Hockey Hall of Fame waived the usual three-year waiting period and immediately inducted Richard in 1961. Maurice Richard’s number “9” was retired and raised to the Forum’s rafters on October 6, 1961.

Since 1999, the NHL has awarded the Maurice Richard Trophy to the league’s leading goal scorer during the regular season.

The hockey world went into mourning upon hearing of Richard’s death in 2000, as over one hundred thousand people filed past his casket to pay their last respects. His nationally broadcast state funeral was the first ever for a Canadian athlete.

And that’s this weeks Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.

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