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February 18, 2009

Henri Richard: As Tough As They Come

Though he was comparatively understated in comparison to his brother's legendary temper, do not think Henri Richard was not capable of creating on-ice mayhem that would make his big brother Maurice proud.

Henri's normally long fuse reached it's end in a game against Boston on New Year's Day, 1958. Burden by his brother's dark shadow, Henri had had enough of the Bruins incessant needling.

A 15 minute brawl erupted at the Boston Garden with Richard battling three tough hombres in Fern Flaman, Leo Labine and big Jack Bionda.

Boom Boom Geoffrion, Dickie Moore, Andre Pronovost and Bob Armstrong also headlined the night's fight card.

But it was Henri Richard who most impressed journalist Roger Barry of the Quincy Patriot-Ledger:

"Little Richard proved his toughness by engaging in pitched battles with Bionda, Flaman and Leo Labine, bouncing up like a rubber ball everytime he was knocked down."

Veteran linesman Matt Pavelich recalled the fight nicely, albeit quite exaggeratedly.

"Henri hadn't been in the league very long at the time and the fans and the players used to get on him, saying he was only there because of his brother the Rocket, who was still playing.

"Henri was going along the boards and big Fern Flaman of Boston, one of the toughest players in history was rubbing him. Then Leo Labine, another hard-nosed Bruin, leaped off the bench and took a swing at Henri. The players were giving him a rough time all night. "Well Henri hauled off and hit Labine and split his eyebrow for 8 stitches. That put Labine out. Then Jack Bionda, another big tough defenseman who was also a great lacrosse player came into it. Jack was about 210 pounds and 6'1. A real tough customer."

"Richard hit him and split his nose - twisted it across his face. That put him out. Flaman came after Henri next. Flaman didn't lose too many but he didn't beat Henri. It was a saw-off. To tell the truthI wouldn't have believed it unless I had seen it with my own eyes. The linesman still take about that one."

Bruins vice-president Lynn Patrick was also impressed.

"He must have fought by himself for five minutes. But he didn't back up once. How he did i I don't know but he's one heck of a fighter."

Of course Pocket Rocket was far more noted for his all-around style of play and his timely offensive contributions. While virtually every aspect of his game is unfairly overshadowed by big brother Rocket Richard, little Henri was every bit as competitive.

1 comment:

Cornelius Hardenbergh said...

Unfairly overshadowed? Overshadowed, sure. Just because Henri has the most stanley cups of anyone, ever...

...yeah, ok. Unfairly. P.S. I am really taking pleasure in this habtennial year right now. I think it's because I was at the playoff games in Boston last year.

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