<i>The Rocket</i> was the most exciting hockey player of his generation and a national hero.
A stick, a puck, a net. This is the game according to Ken Dryden; as Canadians, we have been weaned on it during “long northern winters uncluttered by things to do.” Hockey has developed with the nation and the country has changed with the game. These figures - Newsy Lalonde, Howie Morenz, King Clancy, Maurice Richard, Teeder Kennedy, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Jean Béliveau and Foster Hewitt - are the early pioneers of “Canada's game” who cultivated a national pastime and shaped a national consciousness during the first half of the twentieth century.
Maurice Richard's passion combined with his remarkable achievements on the ice knit him into the fabric of Québec culture. Growing up poor in the tough Bordeaux section of Montreal, the first NHL game Richard played was the first he had seen. But by the time Richard retired in 1960 at age 39, he owned 17 NHL records and eight Stanley Cup Championships.
In the years following World War I, one voice is celebrated as the vocal expression of the early years of hockey. On 22 March 1923 Toronto Star reporter Foster Hewitt broadcast his first hockey game via radio from Toronto's Mutual Street Arena. Nearly ten year later, Hewitt was delivering regular Saturday night broadcasts of Maple Leaf games. On 1 January 1933, NHL hockey became one of the first radio programs to speak to a countrywide Canadian audience, when a patchwork of stations relayed a game from coast to coast.
It was called "the best deal in hockey." On October 10, 1930, the cash-strapped, small market Ottawa Senators traded their most popular player, Frank "King" Clancy to the Toronto Maples Leafs for the unprecedented sum of $35,000 and two players. Leafs' Manager Conn Smythe brought Clancy to Toronto to fill the seats of his new arena, and the feisty body checker did not disappoint. In 1932, the team's first year at Maple Leaf Gardens, and his second year with the club, the Leafs hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time.
They are all Footprints on the ice of Canadian sport.