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When the NHL lockout finally ends, Red Fisher will begin his 50th season on the Canadiens beat. Who has done as much for the Converse All Star Black Leather
Nobody not Selke, not coach Toe Blake, not any of the elite players on the Canadiens dynasty of the 1950s, had any idea what they were getting when Henri was invited to training camp before the start of the 1955 56 season. The game plan wasn't to keep him with the team, if only because hardly anybody ever went directly from junior hockey to this special team. He was too young, too small.
Think about it: what he was saying was that Henri, a member of a record 11 Stanley Cup teams, "may have been" more valuable than Beliveau and more valuable than his older brother, Maurice, and meant more to the team than Bernie Geoffrion, Jacques Plante and even Doug Harvey.
"Sometimes, he'd infuriate me," Blake once told me. "He'd be out on the ice controlling the puck. His linemates would come off the ice and I knew exactly where to look for Henri: on the ice! Some people accused Henri of not being able to make a play. "
game since he burst upon it with numbers that are unlikely ever to be matched?
Years later, Flaman told me: "In all the years I played in the league, there was only one player I hated. Henri Richard!"
Honesty often is a word used loosely when linked with athletes. Henri's integrity to the organization, to the people around him, to the game and to himself was non negotiable. Others with more talent have been far less successful. Others surely have brought a bigger physical presence to the arena, had better shots and greater strengths. A few, not many, even might have had more speed. Cases can be made for names long forgotten in terms of feet, inches, accuracy and toughness, but has anybody ever invented a measuring stick to assess the size of a guy's heart?
Bobby Clarke was the leader in Philadelphia. Jean Beliveau brought grace to the position, but listen to Canadiens GM Frank Selke Sr., whose teams won five consecutive Stanley Cups, when he was asked one day to comment on Henri Richard:
"He's the most inspirational player they have," Flyers forward Terry Crisp told me. Converse All Star Mens Sale "You nail him to the beam and he comes back and kills you. He didn't surprise me, because I've seen him do it before."
He was getting long in the tooth when he led the Canadiens over Philadelphia in a punishing five game playoff series. He was 37 and he poked fun at his tired legs and at the crow's feet developing in bunches around his eyes, but he was the leader.
Henri was tested early and often, as Canadiens management had feared. What they discovered quickly was that Richard didn't want, nor did he need, help from his older brother. He was fearless. He was a Richard.
For 20 seasons, during which he scored 358 goals and 688 assists in Converse All Star Low White Canvas Sale
"I have been blessed with some of the greatest players in NHL history," Selke said, "but game in, game out, Henri Richard may have been the most valuable player I've ever had."
Phil Esposito was a giant talent whose numbers have been eclipsed by Gretzky, but who will live forever in our minds as the player who made it happen in the 1972 series with the Soviets.
Furthermore, the mere idea of carrying the Richard name would be too heavy a cross to bear for the kid.
A funny thing happened during training camp, however.
1,256 regular season games, Henri played with a vigour born out of what appeared to be desperation. He would skate toward an opponent, duck low and start moving beyond him, leaving a defender with one of two options: drag him down and risk a penalty, or let him pass. They took the penalties.
From the archives 2005
Richard shrugged when he was told about it the next day. "In all the years I played in the league, I was never afraid of Flaman!"
"I wouldn't start comparing him with somebody like Beliveau," Blake added, "but I know this: when Richard was on the ice, nobody else had the puck.
a draw in a fourth against Fern Flaman, who was among the NHL's best and most feared fighters.
"At the start of training camp, we had no idea what we had. At the end, we couldn't send him back. The only thing we had to find out was how this little guy would react to the rough stuff. We didn't want a situation where Maurice would have to ride shotgun for him."
You should know that in the six team NHL, bench clearings were the rule rather than the exception. Teams met 14 times during the regular season, often on back to back nights. The benches cleared in Boston one night, and there was young Richard in the middle of it, taking on four Bruins, one after the other. He won the first three fights, including one over Jack Bionda, who towered over him. An exhausted Richard fought to Converse All Star Dainty Leather Trainers
Richard died a little each time he fell into a prolonged slump, which is why he and Serge Savard once were involved in an ugly scene. Henri was still looking for his first goal midway through the season when the Canadiens won a 9 1 laugher over the Canucks in Vancouver. Nobody in the Canadiens room was laughing, however. It seems that many of them were distressed over a story that had appeared in a Montreal newspaper that morning.
So . invite him to training camp, let him play with the big boys for a little while and then ship him out.
What's there to be said about Mario Lemieux, who overcame terrible adversity to become what he meant to hockey?
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