Henri Richard, a pillar of the Montreal Canadiens and considered to be one of the greatest hockey players of all time, has died at the age of 84.
The former captain of the Habs, who was known as the Pocket Rocket, played in the National Hockey League from 1955 to 1975.
The 11-time Stanley Cup winner’s death was confirmed on Friday morning by the Canadiens. He died in Laval, on Montreal’s north shore.
“Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to the Richard family,” the team wrote in a statement.
A native of Quebec, Richard was born in Montreal on Feb. 29, 1936. He grew up alongside big brother and hockey great, Maurice Richard.
While he was small in stature, Richard was a powerhouse for the Canadiens during his 20-year career. He consistently set records, with the most Stanley Cups in NHL history.
“Richard was a great player and a great ambassador for the Montreal Canadiens organization,” said Habs owner Geoff Molson in a tweet. “His passing is a great loss for all.”
Despite being the younger sibling, the Pocket Rocket quickly made a name for himself. In another record for the Habs, he played 1,256 regular-season games.
Richard was “one of the true giants of the game,” according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“The entire National Hockey League family mourns the passing of this incomparable winner, leader, gentleman and ambassador for our sport and the Montreal Canadiens,” Bettman said in a statement.
During his illustrious career, he scored 358 goals and scored 1,046 points — coming third in team history behind Guy Lafleur and Jean Beliveau.
He won the Bill Masterton Trophy for sportsmanship and perseverance in 1974 and was selected to four league all-star teams.
The legendary centre was a key player for the Habs and served as captain from 1971 until his retirement in 1975. His number, 16, was retired by the team in his honour.
The team described Richard as a “gift player, a generous teammate and a born leader” and pointed to his work ethic as part of the Habs’ success. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979.
Quebec Premier François Legault thanked Richard on social media, saying he had “wonderful memories” of the hockey star.
“I offer my sympathies to the family and the loved ones of our captain, our legend, Mr. Henri Richard,” he wrote.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the loss of Richard is a blow to the city, the province and the hockey world. In a statement on Twitter, she said the hockey legend “marked history as so few have done.”
— With files from the Canadian Press