OTD: Montréal Canadiens retire Maurice Richard’s No. 9

On today’s date in 1960, the Montréal Canadiens retired Maurice “The Rocket” Richard’s No. 9 sweater.

Richard played 18 NHL seasons with the Canadiens, and in 978 regular-season games, he scored 544 goals, 422 assists and 966 points. The Rocket had three famous firsts, including becoming the first player to score 50 goals in one season; the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games (1944-45); and the first player to score 500 career goals. He won eight Stanley Cup Championships, including five in a row from 1955-56 to 1959-60, and he was awarded the Hart Trophy as the League’s most valuable player in 1946-47. He led the league in goals five times and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961.

2009 JERSEY STAMP

In 2009, Canada Post commemorated the Canadiens’ 100th anniversary with a Permanent stamp (Scott #2339) featuring a close-up of Richard’s game-worn No. 9 jersey, which was formerly housed in the Montréal Canadiens Hall of Fame. Printed by the Lowe Martin Group on Tullis Russell coated paper, the stamp has general tagging along each side.

“The jersey’s texture is very interesting visually,” said designer Stéphane Huot. “The older style, with its wool fabric and intricate detailing, really speaks to the team’s long history, capturing the magnitude of this anniversary.”

Richard was also commemorated by Canada Post this September.

LA SAINTE FLANELLE

Richard’s jersey was considered a powerful, unifying symbol in French-Canadian culture throughout the middle of the 20th century, Huot said.

“It’s sometimes called La Sainte Flanelle (the ‘Holy Shirt’),” he added. “By connecting it to faith in this way, fans attribute a mystic, other-worldly quality to the feelings it conjures.”

The stamps were issued in booklets of 10, which also list the team’s Stanley Cup victories and feature the team’s centennial logo, as well as souvenir sheets of three. An official first-day cover was cancelled in Montréal.

RECENT COMMEMORATION

Last month, Richard was commemorated once again, this time as part of Canada Post’s Canadian Hockey Legends issue, which also includes Jean Beliveau, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.

Each of the six stamps features an image of the player in uniform with the Stanley Cup image in the background. The release was the final instalment of Canada Post’s five-year series of hockey stamps.

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