This Week in History

Archives

Hockey at the Forum

This story was initially published in 1998

On September 15, 1960, hockey legend Maurice (Rocket) Richard retired, ending a career of 18 seasons with the Montréal Canadiens of the National Hockey League. Joseph-Henri-Maurice Richard joined the Canadiens in the 1942-1943 season and was soon called 'the Rocket' because of his great speed and brilliant goal scoring. His name is part of the Montréal Forum and its place in Canadian history.

The Montreal Forum c1940

The Montreal Forum c1940
© Hockey Hall of Fame

The Forum was one of the country's most famous sporting venues. As the former home of the successful Montréal Canadiens, it became a shrine for the role of hockey in Canada's national culture. The original 9300-seat arena was built in 1924, on the site of a former roller-skating rink called the Forum. The building was renovated in 1968.

The Club de hockey Canadien (known as the Montréal Canadiens) was established in 1909. In 1926 the team started playing in the Forum. Over the years, they have won an unparallelled 24 Stanley Cup championships -- 22 since moving to the Forum. Other Canadiens stars included Howie Morenz, Jean Béliveau, Ken Dryden and Guy Lafleur.

Beyond hockey, the Forum also distinguished itself as a venue for national and international events. It featured boxing, professional tennis and gymnastics as well as non-sporting events such as circuses, election rallies, lectures, Christmas Mass, and a sensational Beatles concert (1964).

One of the most famous episodes in the history of the Montréal Forum occurred on March 17, 1955. NHL president Clarence Campbell was attacked there by devoted Canadiens fans after he suspended 'the Rocket' for the rest of the season and the playoffs. Angry fans took to the streets, resulting in the 'Richard Riot.'

Maurice (Rocket) Richard

Maurice (Rocket) Richard
© Hockey Hall of Fame

On March 11, 1996, the Canadiens played a final game at the Forum, before moving to the new Molson Centre. Eight former team captains and many other stars attended the event, including 'the Rocket' who received a six-and-a-half minute standing ovation. 

After the Canadiens no longer played there, the Forum was converted into an entertainment centre known as the "Pepsi Forum," which houses an AMC multiplex cinema, and a number of shops and restaurants. Painted on the floor of the central lobby is a recreation of the centre face-off circle, a few rows of original seating, and statue of the "the Rocket."

In 1997, the Montréal Forum was designated a national historic site. Howie Morenz is commemorated by a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque in the Forum. Maurice (Rocket) Richard was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1998. For more on hockey, visit the The Hockey Hall of Fame Web Site

Date Modified: