MONTREAL – Dickie Moore was a gritty goal-scorer and playmaker on the Montreal Canadiens dynasty of the 1950s, even if he wasn’t quite as famous as some of his legendary teammates.
Moore, who died Saturday at 84, was too often a footnote in tales of the great Habs teams that won five Stanley Cups in a row from 1956 to 1960, a group that boasted Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Jean Beliveau, Bernard (Boom Boom) Geoffrion, Doug Harvey and goalie Jacques Plante.
That is despite the fact that Moore led the NHL in scoring twice and that some, including Boston Bruins coach and general manager Harry Sinden, said he may have been the best of them all.
While not the fastest skater, Moore was an offensive force who was also tough as nails. He spent several of his 12 seasons in Montreal patrolling the left wing on a line with the Richard brothers, Maurice and Henri.
The Canadiens confirmed Moore’s passing on Saturday afternoon.
There was no immediate word on the cause of death.
Team alumni association president Rejean Houle said Moore had been ill for the last three months and was living in a seniors home.
“We lost an idol from the 1950s,” Houle said. “He won five Stanley Cups in a row. He was a great warrior.”
Legendary hockey writer Red Fisher wrote this of Moore in 2005:
“Moore, the player, was like the Park Extension district in which he grew up: tough and relentless. His heart was almost too big for his own good. Anything less than playing all-out was unacceptable. He was a grim, unflinching athlete with strong ideas of what was needed to win. If fighting was needed, Moore would fight. If playing with pain was needed, nobody had to ask him twice.”
In 1957-58, Moore won the first of his two Art Ross trophies as NHL scoring leader with 84 points despite playing the final three months of the season with a cast on a broken wrist suffered in a
fight with Detroit’s Marcel Pronovost.
The following season, he set a single-season record with 96 points that stood until Chicago’s Bobby Hull put up 97 points in 1965-66.
Moore retired after the 1962-63 season, came back for 38 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964-65, and retired again only to make one last comeback with the expansion St. Louis Blues in
1967-68, a Scotty Bowman-coached squad that reached the Stanley Cup final partly due to Moore’s 14 post-season points.
Moore came from a family of 12 children, the youngest of the nine boys. His first sports hero was his older sister Dolly, a track and softball star. Despite being a Montreal native, he grew up a Leafs
fan, idolizing 1938 scoring leader Gordie Drillon.
He joined his brother Jimmy on the Montreal Junior Royals and won a Memorial Cup in 1949, then won it again the next season with the junior Canadiens. As a junior, he tormented Quebec Citadelles star Beliveau, but the two later became close friends.
He joined the Canadiens in 1951, but injuries kept him from becoming a regular until two years later, when he won the first of his six Stanley Cups.
It was in 1955-56 that he blossomed into a top player under the guidance of coach Toe Blake, to whom he felt indebted.
“I was lucky to have a guy who believed in me,” Moore told theHockey Hall of Fame website. “You’re only as good as how somebody can lift you up to the heights where he thinks you can play. Toe
Blake had that in him.”
The rest of the decade belonged to Montreal, whose other top line had Beliveau, Geoffrion and Bert Olmstead.
Although battered by a series of injuries that left him with creaky knees, Moore was not happy when the Canadiens tried to convince him to retire in the early 1960s. He finally called it quits in 1963 to concentrate on a construction equipment company, Dickie Moore Rentals, he had opened two years earlier.
He was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1974. He shared the retirement of the No. 12 jersey by the Canadiens with Yvan Cournoyer.
After his two comebacks, he settled into the business world and his company became a huge success. He also owned the Arundel Golf Club near Montreal.
Moore is survived by his daughter Lianne, his son John and their respective spouses and several grandchildren. There was no immediate word on funeral service plans.