Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Maurice Richard made his NHL debut with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1942-43 season with five goals in 16 games. He established himself as an NHL regular the following season leading the Canadiens with 32 goals while playing in 46 of Montreal's 50 games, which was good for 6th place in the league goal scoring race, just six back of league leader Doug Bentley's 38. He also added 12 goals in nine playoff games to earn his first Stanley Cup ring.
He set the hockey world on it's ear the following season, as in just his second full season in the NHL he not only led the league in goals but accomplished the unthinkable by becoming the first man to ever score 50 goals in 50 games, a feat that took 36 years to equal and only four other men have ever duplicated.
Richard came back down to Earth the following season with just 27 goals, which included passing the 100 goal mark, as well as earning his second Stanley Cup, but rebounded with a strong 45 tallies in 1946-47 to lead the league in goals for a second time and be named the Hart Trophy winner that season. Scoring was down league wide in 1947-48, as Richard managed just 28 goals to finish just five back of league leader Ted Lindsay's 33.
After just 20 goals in 1948-49, which allowed him to surpass the career 200 level, Richard had another strong season with 43 goals in 1949-50 to beat Gordie Howe by eight to win his third goal scoring title. He backed that up with a nearly identical 42 goals the following season, bested only by Howe's 43.
He netted 27 in 1952 to leave the 300 plateau in the distance and 28 more in 1953 as he won his third Stanley Cup. 1953-54 was the first of three consistent seasons with 37 (to lead the league). He became the first man to ever reach 400 career goals when he scored 38, which tied for the league lead with teammate "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, in 1954-55.
Richard scored another 38 goals in 1955-56 and got his fourth consecutive season over 30 with 33 in 1956-57, a season which saw him named team captain and lead the Canadiens to the first of five consecutive Stanley Cups under his captaincy.
The 1957-58 season saw him limited to just 28 games due to an Achilles tendon injury, but it was enough to allow him to score 15 goals that season, including his milestone 500th goal on this date in 1957, making him the first man in NHL history to reach the magical 500 goal plateau at a time when no other player had ever reached 400 career goals!
Richard's career was now winding down and his final two seasons were curtailed by injuries, limiting him to 42 games and 17 goals in 1958-59 and his final season rose to 51 games and 19 goals to put his final career regular season goal total at 544 as well as 82 additional playoff goals as he won eight Stanley Cup rings.
Richard at the conclusion of the final game of his career with the 1960 Stanley Cup
Today's featured jersey is a 1959-60 Montreal Canadiens Maurice Richard jersey. This jersey is from Richard's final season and features the captain's "C" on the left chest.
The iconic Canadiens jersey would remain essentially unchanged throughout the entirety of Richard's career, with the largest "change" being the addition of numbers to the sleeves in 1958.
Here is footage from Maurice Richard's 500th goal scored on this date in 1957.
Here is a look back at Richard's career on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his 500th goal.