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R.I.P Richard “Dickie” Moore


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God bless Red.


Red Fisher: Remembering great friend and Habs legend Dickie Moore, dead at age 84


I am looking for the right words, but where do you start? How do you say goodbye to a dear friend of more than six decades when tears get in the way?

How do you say a final farewell to Dickie Moore, who passed away on Saturday. He was 84.


I have known so many of the NHL’s players since the mid-1950s. Almost without exception, I was full of admiration for their talent, but only a few among them were to become friends.


Dickie was my closest friend.




It goes back to his hockey days in the late 1940s when Canadiens GM Frank Selke Sr. anointed him Canada’s best junior. I watched him mature with the Quebec Senior Hockey League Royals and shine as few others in the NHL.


Even as a junior, he was all about “team,” a player blessed with a special mixture of courage and on-ice talent surpassed only by his decency as a human being. They were qualities that served him so well at the game’s every level. They were what made him so endearing to so many of us who knew him and those who did not.


Who can forget his 1957-58 season with the Canadiens, midway through a dynasty that was to win a record five Stanley Cups in a row? A broken wrist he suffered during a collision with Detroit defenceman Marcel Pronovost threatened to cut short a scoring championship year. Moore, the competitor, wanted to win the Art Ross. He had his eye on the prize, but Moore, the team man, had other ideas.


One night, when the Canadiens were travelling on the train, he asked for a meeting with coach Toe Blake and his linemates, Maurice and Henri Richard. At the time, Henri was Dickie’s closest pursuer in the scoring race. Dickie told them he could still play with his wrist in a cast, but for how long? And as long as he played with an injury that would sideline most players, how much could he contribute to the line?


“It’s not fair to Henri,” Moore told Blake. “It’s not fair not to allow him to win the scoring title.”


The meeting lasted no more than a few minutes. It ended abruptly when Maurice and Henri told Blake: “There’s no damned way he’s going off the line.”

Moore remained on the line. He played with his wrist imprisoned in a cast for the second half of the season. He won the Ross with an NHL-leading 36 goals and 48 assists in a 70-game season. Henri finished four points behind. Moore won it again the following year with 41 goals and 55 assists.

How much did Dickie mean to the Canadiens?


In the six-team league, no rivalry was as fierce as the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens. Hardly a game would pass without the benches being cleared.

One night, in Toronto, Henri moved in to check Frank Mahovlich. The latter had all kinds of room. Instead, he fired the puck directly at Richard’s head.


Dickie led the charge off the bench.



After the period, GM Selke hurried to the Canadiens room with a message for Blake.


“Don’t start Moore in the next period,” he told Blake.


“Why not?”


“We don’t need that kind of trouble,” Selke snapped.


Dickie started the third period.


Moore, the player, was like the Park Extension district in which he grew up: tough and relentless. His heart was almost too big for his own good. Winning for his team was what he loved; losing was what he hated. If fighting was needed, Moore would fight. If playing with pain was needed, nobody on the Canadiens had to ask him twice.


Speed wasn’t among Dickie’s strong points, but few players performed with more finesse despite bad knees which plagued him throughout his career — and beyond. He didn’t out-skate opponents, but his strength was in out-thinking them. Few players handled the puck as well as he did, and nobody was as good in a one-on-one with a goaltender.


He overcame adversity better than most players, but what he couldn’t handle was the frustration of not playing, which happens to so many players late in their careers.


The Canadiens were in Chicago on this night, only a few days before Christmas. The cracks had widened in the dynasty that had won Stanley Cups from 1955-56 through 1959-60. The Rocket had been forced into retirement prior to the start of the 1960-61 season. Dickie’s best friend on the team, Doug Harvey, had been shipped to the Rangers after the 1961-62 season.


In the two seasons following their astonishing string of five consecutive Stanley Cups, the Canadiens had finished first in their division, but failed to get beyond the first round. Changes were needed and, as a result, a few of the veterans spent a lot of time on the bench. Against the Blackhawks, Dickie was among them.


He knocked on my hotel room door at 2 a.m.


“You awake?” he asked.


“Yeah, I’m always awake at two o’clock in the morning. What’s up?”


“I’m going home in the morning,” he said. “I can’t take this any longer. There’s no point hanging around if I’m not playing.”


“Whoa! Did I hear you say you’re quitting the team?” I asked. “Is that the way you want people to remember Dickie Moore? As a quitter? If you leave now, that’s the way you’ll be remembered,” he was told. “And face it, Dickie, right now you’re not doing a hell of a lot out there when you’re on the ice.”


“Can’t score sitting on the bench,” he muttered.


“Have you talked to Toe about it?”


“I haven’t told him I’m going home, but I’ve made up my mind. If I can’t play, I’d much rather be at home with the family,” Moore said. “I can handle anything the fans will say about this. They’re not sitting on the bench. I am,” he added.


We argued about it for the next two hours. Finally, Moore said: “OK, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’ll go with the team to Detroit. If I don’t play, I’m gone. I’m playing pretty well when I get on the ice, but I can’t buy a goal.”


“Try shooting more often,” he was told. “Whenever you’re on the ice, all you do is pass the puck to Henri.”


Moore was in the starting lineup two nights later. Henri won the faceoff and dropped the puck back to Moore. He was only one stride across centre ice when he released a rising shot at Terry Sawchuk.




The press box in the old Detroit Olympia was fairly close to the ice. The instant the puck eluded Sawchuk, Moore raced down the left side of the rink, swept around behind the net and skated along the boards. Then, as he approached the press box he looked up, raised his stick and waved it.

The smile he wore lit up the arena.


Later in the game, he scored a second goal.


He was to score 24 goals in 67 games in that 1962-63 season, his last with the Canadiens. He stayed out of hockey the next season, returned to play 38 games with Toronto in 1964-65, stayed out of hockey for the next two seasons, but answered Scotty Bowman’s call in St. Louis in 1967-68, when the NHL doubled in size to 12 teams.


The Canadiens arrived in St. Louis for their first meeting with the Blues roughly 20 games into that expansion season. Both teams were struggling at the time. The Blues were in last place of the West Division, the Canadiens last in the East. The Canadiens won what had been a tight game — Bowman’s first with St. Louis as head coach. He had a message for me.


“I’m bringing in your friend,” he said.


“Yeah? Who?”




There was no need to mention the surname. For me, going back to his junior days, there was only one Dickie.


The Blues had been attracting only 5,000 fans at most of their games up to that point in the season, but with the addition of Moore and Harvey, they played to sellout crowds and finished the season in third place with 70 points in a 74-game schedule. Dickie scored only five goals and three assists in 27 games.


The Blues beat Philadelphia in seven games in the first round. Then, they needed a goal from Larry Keenan 4:10 into the second overtime of Game 7 in a 2-1 victory over Minnesota to move into the Stanley Cup final against the Canadiens. They fell in four, but the Canadiens needed overtime goals in two of the games.


Dickie led the Blues with seven goals in 18 playoff games. He assisted on another seven. This time he retired for good.


The greatest moment of his Hall of Fame career came on Nov. 12, 2005, when, through misty eyes, he watched his No. 12 raised to the rafters.


You wonder what players think about at times like these, but what I knew for certain was that he was thinking about his mother, Ida, and his father, Charles, a city of Montreal employee who worked so hard to raise 10 kids. He was thinking about his brothers Charlie, Bill, Eddie, Bert, Tommy, Danny, Reggie, Jimmy and his sister Dolly — wishing they were all there. Sadly, by then, all gone, except Jimmy, who has since passed away, but he could feel their arms around him.


He could feel their love.


He was thinking about his son, Dickie Jr., who had died alone in the darkness of an early morning decades earlier in a one-car accident on a road leading to Arundel in the Laurentians.


He was thinking about his wife, Joan, who has never fully recovered from her son’s death.


He was thinking about his daughter Lianne and his son, John.


Laughter always has come easily to Dickie, as it does to all of those marvellous people who have the rare quality of enjoying life to the fullest. Too many people I know don’t regard a day complete unless they can convince themselves and others that life is beating their brains out. They don’t care who knows it. They wear their misery on their sleeves.


They depress me.


Not Dickie. He always made the day brighter.


I can remember a time in 1960 when the Candiens held their training camp in Victoria. One day, we were walking through the halls of the hotel where the team stayed. Not a sound was heard in the hotel’s greenhouse — except for some squeaks.

“What are those strange noises?” he was asked.


“Those aren’t strange noises,” he said. “They’re my knees.”


Like the rest of us, Dickie had his share of bad times. He could be breaking up inside, but he always regarded tears as private things. It stayed in the family. Joy and laughter were what he shared with others … always trying to make the people around him feel better. He cared for people, young and old alike.


I will miss so much about him. His courage. His laughter. His bad jokes. His goodness.


Some years ago, Dickie was involved in a life-threatening accident. It happened in Dorion on Aug. 27, 2006, under a pelting rain. He was slowly leaving a shopping mall’s parking area when he was sideswiped on the driver’s side by a truck.


Forty-five minutes passed before rescuers were able to remove him from his vehicle. He was rushed to the Montreal General Hospital, where doctors discovered he had suffered spinal and neck injuries. Eleven broken ribs. A knee injury. There were fears his kidney had been punctured. There was massive bleeding.


Several days before the accident, Dickie had visited the resting place of his son.


“It won’t be long now, Richard,” he said. “It won’t be long.”


Dickie Jr.’s death so many years ago had left huge holes that never fully mended in the hearts of those he left behind. A boy: dead at 17. How do you deal with that?


Somehow, Dickie did.


On Saturday, when so many of us wept, father and son finally embraced




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"Shoot da puck Dickie"


My former father-in-law attended many a hab game in the '50s and he told me that's what the "Frenchmen" (his word, not mine) would say whenever the puck was on Dickie Moore's stick.


When watching games on television with me 45 years later, he would shout "shoot da puck Dickie" at the television several times over the course of the game, even if the habs weren't playing.


Good times!

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