He led the National Hockey League in goal scoring five times and was often in the top five. However, when it came to total points, Maurice Richard was never given the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s overall scorer. He did finish second on several occasions. On two of those occasions, the Rocket was denied the league lead by a single point.
We say today that Wayne Gretzky’s offensive records will never be broken. It’s interesting to look back at Maurice Richard’s 1954-55 Parkhurst NHL hockey card. That card stated, “His total of 384 goals will probably never be beaten.” Well, he went on to score 544 but that total has been surpassed by 29 other players since. Marian Hossa and Patrick Marleau are active players in 2016-17 that stand to push Richard into the 32nd spot before too long.
So, are Gretzky’s records safe? Probably. But, no one knows the future, as Parkhurst has proven. It could result from rule changes. It could result from the league growing or shrinking. There could be some two year old kid out there right now that is going to grow up with massively more talent than any other hockey player to date. Gretzky’s records could fall as Richard’s did.
Maurice Richard – Junior and Minor Pro
The possibility of a future NHL scoring phenom came into reality in 1938-39 when Maurice Richard played junior with Saint-Georges Norchet in Quebec. In 46 games, the Rocket scored 90 goals and assisted on 46 for 136 points.
The following year, he ended up in the QJAHA with the Verdun Maple Leafs. The team finished second in the five team league. Verdun then knocked off the first place Montreal Junior Royals for the league championship.
The Maple Leafs moved on to beat the Quebec Junior Aces for the Quebec Junior Hockey Championship. In the Eastern Canada Memorial Cup playoffs, Verdun was taken down by the Oshawa Generals.
It wasn’t an immediate jump to the National Hockey League for Maurice. He spent two years in the QSHL with the Montreal Senior Canadiens in 1940-41 and 1941-42. With this club, Richard did not put up the high scoring numbers that he would later show with the NHL Habs.
Maurice Richard – NHL
Maurice Richard played 978 regular season games in the National Hockey League between 1942-43 and 1959-60. Over that time, he scored 544 and assisted on 421 for 965 points while playing his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. A fiery player, the Rocket sat 1,285 minutes in the penalty box.
Maurice Richard Collection
He remains 30th all-time for goals in a NHL career. As for goals per game, Richard sits in 13th spot. In nine seasons, Maurice scored 30 or more goals. He scored 40 or more four times.
His scoring ability was still in its infant stage in 1943-44, his second year in the NHL. However, he did score 32 which tied him for sixth with Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Blackhawks and Syd Howe of the Detroit Red Wings.
It was in the 1943-44 Stanley Cup playoffs when the Rocket took off. He scored 12 goals in nine games, leading the Habs to a championship, sweeping the Blackhawks in the finals. During the regular season, the Dick Irvin coached Canadiens lost just five of 50 games.
Of course, the Rocket was the first NHL player to score 50 goals. The feat was a big deal considering the NHL season consisted of just a 50 game schedule in 1944-45. That would equal someone today putting in 82 goals in a season. That year, he scored 18 more than the second place Herb Cain of the Boston Bruins.
In 1944-45, Montreal remained dominant, losing just eight of their 50 games. However, they were upset in the opening round by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto won the series in six games, despite the Canadiens outscoring their opponents 21-15 on the series. During that regular season, Richard finished second in the overall scoring race with 73 points, seven behind teammate Elmer Lach.
Maurice Richard won the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player just once over his career. In 1946-47, he was first with 45 goals, 15 more than Roy Conacher of the Red Wings and Bobby Bauer of the Bruins. He was denied the scoring title by a single point. His 71 points fell just behind Max Bentley of the Blackhawks. That year, Montreal finished first overall but fell in the finals to the Maple Leafs.
A different side of Richard showed itself in 1948-49. He scored just 20 goals in 59 games but was fourth in the league with 110 penalty minutes. The following year, Maurice was seventh with 114 PIM but his offensive numbers were back up. He led the NHL with 43 goals and was fourth with 65 points.
Yet again, he was runner up in 1950-51 with 66 points, twenty behind Gordie Howe. His 42 goals were also second to Howe, just one goal behind.
For the only time in his career, Richard led the NHL in penalty minutes in 1952-53. His 112 PIM were just one minute more than Ted Lindsay from Detroit and two more than Fern Flaman of Toronto. With just 28 goals in 70 games, Maurice was a distant fourth, 21 goals less than the leader, Gordie Howe. The Habs finished second, 15 points behind the Red Wings. However, Montreal took home the Stanley Cup, taking out the third seed Bruins in the finals.
With just 37 goals, the Rocket led the NHL in goal scoring in 1953-54. He was also again runner up for the Art Ross Trophy, 14 points behind Gordie Howe. he was second for PIM with 112, 20 behind Gus Mortson of Chicago. In the playoffs, Richard scored just three goals in eleven games with no assists. The Habs lost to the Red Wings in the finals.
Maurice was burned again by a single point in 1954-55. His 74 points were one behind the leader and Richard’s teammate Bernie Geoffrion. The two tied for the goal scoring lead with 38 each. His career high 125 PIM placed him fifth in the NHL. Richard did not play in the post season due to the infamous suspension. Montreal lost again to the Red Wings in the finals.
1955-56 brought the first of five consecutive Stanley Cup championships for Montreal. It was also be the first of Richard’s final seasons in the NHL. Jean Beliveau led the league with 47 goals while Maurice and Gordie Howe tied for second with 38 goals each. Richard was third with 71 points. That year, Maurice Richard scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for Montreal. It was also the first year Maurice was teamed with his younger brother Henri Richard.
Injuries began to have their way with Richard. In 1957-58, he played just 28 games for the Habs during the regular season. However, in the playoffs, he exploded for eleven goals in ten games to help the team to their third consecutive Stanley Cup championship.
Between 1943-44 and 1959-60, Maurice appeared in the Stanley Cup finals 13 times. On eight of those occasions, the Canadiens won the championship.
The Montreal Canadiens retired the number 9 of Maurice Richard in 1960. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. Montreal introduced the Rocket Richard Trophy for the 1998-99 NHL season, awarded to the league’s top goal scorer.
Eight times during his career, Richard was named a First Team All-Star. On six other occasions, he was named to the Second Team. In 1957, he was honoured with the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete.
His coaching career lasted a single game. When the Quebec Nordiques and the World Hockey Association began business in 1972-73, Richard was behind the bench. The Nordiques lost their first game and Maurice gave up the position.
Maurice Richard – Rookie Card
It was well into his National Hockey League career when the Maurice Richard rookie card appeared as number 4 in the 1951-52 Parkhurst NHL hockey card set. He was, of course, shown as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
Richard’s final card is included in the 1960-61 Parkhurst set. Of course, he did not play in 1960-61 with his final NHL games being played in 1959-60.
As mentioned, his 1954-55 Parkhurst card states on the back that “his total of 384 goals will probably never be beaten”. Of course, that total was not only added to considerably by Richard but has also been beaten by 29 other players as of 2016-17. That card also states that Maurice “is a steel company representative during the off-season”. Just a reminder that even the superstars in the NHL at the time had summer jobs.
Maurice Richard Career Stats