NHL Canadiens legend Henri Richard dead at 84

Henri Richard (Getty Images)
Henri Richard (Getty Images)

Henri Richard, who played on a National Hockey League-record 11 Stanley Cup championship squads in his 20-year career with the Montreal Canadiens, died on Friday.

He was 84.

Richard, the younger brother by 15 years of fellow Canadiens legend Maurice "Rocket" Richard, was elected to the Hockey Hall of fame in 1979.

Nicknamed the "Pocket Rocket" because of his size, 5-feet-7 (170cm) and 73kg, Richard nevertheless stood tall as a hometown hockey hero.

"Henri Richard was one of the true giants of the game," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

"The entire National Hockey League family mourns the passing of this incomparable winner, leader, gentleman and ambassador for our sport and the Montreal Canadiens."

Richard, who died in suburban Laval, and Bill Russell of the NBA's Boston Celtics are the only athletes in major North American professional sports to have won 11 championships as a player.

The Richard brothers were linemates on Montreal clubs that won five consecutive Stanley Cups from 1956-1960. Henri's other titles came in 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1973.

"When his 20-year playing career came to an end in 1975, Richard devoted himself to representing his beloved Canadiens and the game of hockey with the same tirelessness and class that he brought to the ice. We will miss him terribly," Bettman said.

Henri Richard finished with 358 goals while setting up 688 others over a club-record 1,258 games.

"Henri 'Pocket Rocket' Richard was a great player and a great ambassador for the Montreal Canadiens organization. His passing is a great loss for all," said Canadiens owner Geoff Molson.

Richard is one of only five players to have scored two Stanley Cup-winning goals, netting the first against Detroit in 1966 and the second in game seven of the 1971 final against Chicago.

He served as captain of the Canadiens from 1971 until his 1975 retirement. His number 16 jersey was retired by the club in 1975.

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