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1952-53: Rocket Becomes Scoring King

The Three Stars:

Rocket Becomes Scoring King: Exactly ten years to the day that he scored his first NHL goal, Montreal's Rocket Richard becomes the NHL's all time leading goal scorer. He beats Chicago's Al Rollins for his 325th career goal, moving him past Nels Stewart. Richard would finish the year with 28 goals.

Saturday Night Hockey Comes To TV: Montreal defeats Detroit 2-1 on October 1st in the first televised game. It is a French broadcast with Rene Lecavalier calling the play-by-play. A month later, on Novembers 1st, the first English broadcast airs, with Foster Hewitt at the microphone as Toronto beats Boston 3-2. That broadcast actually did not start until the 2nd period, as Leafs boss Conn Smythe feared broadcasting the game from the beginning would discourage ticket sales.

Shake Up In Chicago: The lowly Chicago Blackhawks acquire Detroit great Sid Abel and name him player coach. Later the franchise is purchased by Arthur Wirtz along with Bruce and James Norris. Mass change continues as Harry Lumley is traded for Al Rollins, Gus Mortson, Cal Gardner and Ray Hannigan. The moves are a success as the Hawks make the playoffs for the first time since 1946. Rollins even finishes as runner up in Hart Trophy balloting.

Season Highlights:
  • Alex Delvecchio takes Abel's place as the top line center for Detroit's Production Line and the Wings never miss a beat.
  • Gordie Howe leads the league with 49 goals. Howe badly wanted to get the magical 50th goal and tied his arch rival Rocket Richard for the best total ever, but he is checked mercilessly by the Habs in the final game of the regular season. He never did score 50 goals in any of his 26 NHL seasons.
  • Nonetheless Howe does shatter his own record for points in a season with 95 and wins the Art Ross and Hart trophies.
  • The city of Cleveland has big league hockey dreams denied. An expansion bid is mostly ignored, as is the AHL champion Cleveland Barons' Stanley Cup challenge.
  • Jacques Plante gives Montreal fans a hint of what is to come, thanks to a surprising appearance in the playoffs. He is given four starts. He wins three and gives up only 7 goals, helping Montreal win the Stanley Cup.
  • Detroit has an embarrassment of riches. Red Kelly (D) and Ted Lindsay (LW) continue to be the best in their positions. And a young and promising goalie emerges and begins pushing the great Terry Sawchuk. His name: Glenn Hall.
  • Hockey's royal wedding saw Boom Boom Geoffrion marry the daughter of Howie Morenz.


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