Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Right Hon. Joe Clark and all members of the Progressive Conservative Party, I would like to express our sadness over the passing of Maurice “The Rocket” Richard.
The Progressive Conservative Party wishes to offer its sincere condolences to the whole Richard family.
Born on August 4, 1921 and throughout his 78 glorious years, Maurice Richard was a symbol of excellence and a source of inspiration for many generations of Quebecois and Canadians. The Rocket will go down in history as more than a hockey legend. He was truly a great Canadian whose on ice skills inspired a generation of hockey fans.
Although he was not deemed the most physically gifted athlete, it was his will to win that set him apart from all others. His sheer force of will was something to behold.
Nicknamed “The Rocket” for his blazing speed and hard shot, Richard developed a reputation as an electrifying player from the blue line in. Wearing the number 9 jersey the Rocket dominated the NHL for 18 magnificent years as the centrepiece of professional sports' most successful franchise. His storied career stats combining regular season and playoff goals include 626 goals, 465 assists and 1,091 total points. He was also the first player, as mentioned, to score 50 goals in 50 games in the 1944-45 season, a feat not duplicated until the 1980s.
But it was his performance in clutch situations and his ability to respond in the big games that really distinguished him from those who have played the game of hockey. During his stellar career Richard led the Montreal Canadiens to eight Stanley Cups, including five in a row between 1956 and 1960.
After his career his popularity and legend grew. He continued to be one of the most recognized and beloved figures in Canada. As his health began to decline, the NHL recognized his contributions to the game by creating the Rocket Richard trophy given annually to the league's top scorer, a fitting tribute.
Maurice Richard died on Saturday, losing a ferocious battle against abdominal cancer. His body will lie in state at the Molson Centre on Tuesday, and a state funeral will be held on Wednesday at Notre-Dame Basilica.
There has been an outpouring of public sympathy and condolences from across the country for Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. He transcended the game. Canadians consider themselves honoured to lay claim to the man affectionately known as “The Rocket”, a great hockey player, a great ambassador for the game and country. Canada and the Richard family have lost a true national treasure. Au revoir, Rocket.