Mr. Richard (pronounced ree-SHARD) was 15 years younger than Maurice Richard, a charismatic superstar and hero in the brothers’ native Quebec who was perhaps hockey’s most dominant player in the 1940s and 1950s. He was nicknamed “Rocket” for his speed on the ice and the accuracy of his shots.
When Mr. Richard was invited to Montreal’s training camp in 1955, scouts wondered if it was out of nepotism. Then 19, he was only 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds, but his skating ability and crafty playmaking earned him a spot in the lineup. He was soon dubbed “Pocket Rocket.”
His teammate Ken Dryden once called him a “tireless skater, the kind of player who could drive any opponent nuts.”
Before Mr. Richard’s arrival in Montreal, the Canadiens had lost four of the five previous Stanley Cup finals. He played center on a line between Maurice Richard and Dickie Moore, helping power the Canadiens to five consecutive championships between 1956 and 1960, a National Hockey League record.
The brothers and other Hall of Fame stars — including Moore, Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Bert Olmstead, Doug Harvey and goaltender Jacques Plante — made the Canadiens unstoppable in the late 1950s and were the heart of one of hockey’s greatest dynasties.
During his early years on the team, Mr. Richard was a quiet presence in the locker room. When coach Toe Blake was once asked if Henri could speak English, he reportedly replied, “Heck, I don’t even know if he can speak French.”
But things changed when Maurice Richard retired from the ice in 1960 to focus on public relations for the team. Henri Richard began speaking up more, often bluntly. He once settled a locker room dispute by slapping a young player and would call out teammates after embarrassing losses. The once-taciturn 19-year-old turned into a team leader and occasional jokester, once padlocking together the typewriters of three Montreal reporters.
Throughout his 20-year career, Mr. Richard proved to be one of the most skilled players in the NHL, which consisted of only the “Original Six” teams until the league expanded to 12 teams in 1967 (and eventually to 31).
He was at his best under pressure, scoring the winning goal in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings in the 1966 Stanley Cup finals, sliding into the goaltender after releasing his shot.
During the 1971 Stanley Cup finals, with the Canadiens threatened with elimination, Mr. Richard denounced the team’s coach, Al MacNeil, as “incompetent” and “the worst coach I ever played for.” All was forgiven because of Mr. Richard’s heroics on the ice, as he scored the game-tying and Cup-clinching goals against the Chicago Black Hawks.
“This was the biggest goal of my life and of the 10 Stanley Cup winners I’ve been on,” Mr. Richard said after the game. “This is the best because we were the underdogs.”
He became only the third player to score a Cup-clinching goal more than once, which until then had only been accomplished by longtime Canadiens player and coach Blake and later, Beliveau.
His record of 11 championships was rivaled only by his Montreal teammates Beliveau and Yvan Cournoyer, both of whom won 10.
After Beliveau’s retirement in 1971, Mr. Richard succeeded him as Montreal’s team captain, a position Maurice Richard had held earlier. Henri Richard played in 1,258 regular season games, more than any other player in the Canadiens’ history, retiring in 1975.
Following the 1973-74 season, the NHL awarded Mr. Richard the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is given to a player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication” to the game.
Joseph Henri Richard was born in Montreal on Feb. 29, 1936, the seventh of eight children. His father worked for Canadian Pacific Railway.
In 1956, he married Lise Villiard, who survives, along with their five children; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
After his playing days, Mr. Richard represented the Montreal Canadiens at public events and worked in the promotions department of Carling O’Keefe breweries.
In 1960, still in the midst of his playing days, Mr. Richard bought a Montreal tavern, where locals and tourists would go in hope of meeting him. He sold the bar in 1986, when it became clear his sons had no interest in taking over.
Mr. Richard was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 and was named by the NHL one of the 100 greatest players in the league’s history. His No. 16 jersey was retired by the Canadiens in 1975, just as Maurice Richard’s No. 9 had been retired 15 years earlier.
The only player in a major North American team sport to equal Mr. Richard’s 11 championships was Bill Russell of the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
Mr. Richard retired as a gray-haired 20-year veteran, still a smooth skater and skilled stick handler who always gave credit to his teammates. Unlike some later players, he never made the millions of dollars that would eventually be paid to athletes of his stature.
“I never regretted that — never,” Mr. Richard told The Washington Post in 1981. “Being happy is more important than making money. We had something special that maybe the players today don’t have. Everybody knew us and cared for us, so you can only be happy with that. Eleven Stanley Cups for Montreal. What could be better?”
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