November 19, 2014

Gordie Howe's Rivalry With Rocket Richard

Myth has it that in one of the many games between the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens back in the 1950s Gordie Howe jumped off of the bench illegally to stop Rocket Richard on a breakaway.

Gordie confirms this is more than a myth. It's completely true!

"Yes, I did it," he admitted in his 1995 book "and . . . Howe!" "It was up in Montreal, he came out of their end on a breakaway, so I went out and stopped him. I got a two minute penalty for too many men on the ice, but he didn't score. He didn't score on the power play either."

Many have speculated about the personal rivalry between hockey's two superstars of the 1950s. After all, their respective teams clashed as dynasties, battling for Stanley Cups. They were the faces of each dynasty, and the faces of the NHL. They battled for scoring titles and MVP status. 

Perhaps it was more built up by the fans and the media, but stories have always said Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe never liked each other. And, well, yeah, that's more or less true.

"Things have changed but, at the time, I hated the old (bleep)," Gordie wrote in his 1995 book "and . . . Howe!" "Of course, he hated me too. There were a few guys he hated worse than me, like Ted Lindsay and Stan Mikita. But that was then. Now, Rocket and I are pretty good friends."

Howe went on to talk more about the Rocket.

"Essentially he's such a proud man. He was a goal scorer. I was a goal scorer. I had to take him out, he had to take me out. That was our job from the blue line in. 

"Rocket was such a powerful man. He had one habit I perceived, however, he would come down and cut across the blue line because he liked to get to the center of the ice and shoot. Everything was quick wrist shots. So one time, as he came across the blue line, I really nailed him. We ended up in a fight.

"There was a flurry of people around. And for some reason Rocket ended up under my left knee. I waited, and when he looked up, I popped him. I whacked him a pretty good one. Then all hell broke loose."

No comments: