123 minutes – Drama
Release date: November 25, 2005
DVD release date: September 26, 2006
Canadian distributor: Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm
Originally released as Maurice Richard, the movie was retitled The Rocket for its release outside of Québec. You need to be of a certain generation to truly appreciate the impact of hockey great, Maurice Richard. Like a magnificent sunrise you can only see once in a lifetime, you had to be there. Back then the National Hockey League was comprised of just 6 teams, and so the players were the cream of the crop, the best that could be found. Hockey transcended sport and became the stuff of legends. Intercity rivalries became like wars and when the playoffs rolled around it was the only thing people talked about. As the movie begins, the future star is a shy, young, good-looking teenager who has just turned 17. By day he is a machinist-in-training at a Montreal trade school. But at night, like hundreds and hundreds of teenagers back then, he put on his skates and hoped that one day he would be good enough to become a national hockey league player. Richard comes to the attention of Dick Irwin, the coach of the Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club who becomes his mentor and master. With his guidance the natural talent and ability of the young player becomes an almost unstoppable scoring machine who will help, then lead his team to eight Stanley Cup championships throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s. The film also deals with the so-called “Richard riot.” On March 13, 1955, Richard went after a Boston Bruins’ player, Hal Laycoe, and knocked him out. The brief melee also left a linesman injured. Since this was Richard`s second assault on an official that season, a formal inquiry took place leading NHL president Clarence Campbell to suspend Montreal`s star player for the remainder of the season, including all playoff games. This did not sit well with Montreal fans and when Campbell showed up at the Forum for a game on St. Patrick`s Day, March 17, Montreal fans went wild. A smoke bomb outside the arena caused the game to be stopped and the building was evacuated. Once outside, pent-up anger boiled over and a riot began. When it was over various parts of the forum had been destroyed, and stores along Montreal`s Ste-Catherine Street had suffered severe damage. In 1955 dollars, the final estimate was pegged at $500,000. Richard went on to dominate five more Stanley Cup championships following the period covered by the movie. There are political, “English vs French” overtones in this movie which, while unfortunate, are an accurate reflection of the times both then and now. Fans of “The Rocket,” hockey in general, or of star Roy Dupuis who makes his third outing as Maurice Richard, will love this movie. Others will simply like it very, very much. Many of the hockey players in the film are real NHL Hockey Players making their acting debut.