Maurice Richard’s career spanned from 1942 to 1960 and in that time won the Stanley Cup eight times and won the Hart trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player in 1947. He set numerous scoring records, including being the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games, and the first player to score over 500 career goals. Maurice Richard finished his career with his final Stanley Cup win in 1960 and 544 regular-season goals.
There was only one player at the time, who was close enough to break Richard’s career goal record, and of course that was Gordie Howe, who was still playing long after Richard retired. In fact, it only took a few years for Gordie Howe to creep up to that number, as it seems Gordie Howe had hit his prime in the early 60s.
An interesting game brought this record into the forefront as the Detroit Red Wings hosted the Montréal Canadiens in the Olympia in Detroit on October 27, 1963, more than four years after Maurice Richard’s retirement. However, Maurice Richard’s younger brother, Henri Richard was in the game and played a pivotal role in allowing Gordie Howe to tie Maurice Richard’s record.
The Montreal Canadians were playing shorthanded as John Ferguson, who was sitting in the penalty box and Gordie Howe was on the power play. Henri Richard, who was always somewhat of a defensive specialist was one of four Habs killing the penalty. During the play, the Pocket Rocket was either called to the bench, or assumed he was called to the bench and therefore stepped into the Habs door. However, there was some confusion, and he was not replaced on the ice, leaving the Montréal Canadiens in a five on three situation, backing up into their own zone. Gordie Howe had the puck and worked his way around Gilles Tremblay and scored on his old friend Gump Worsely.
Needless to say, the fans in Detroit went ballistic, and I’m sure nobody felt worse than Maurice’s at younger brother, the Pocket Rocket – Henri Richard.