Some of the most iconic photographs in NHL history come from the black & white era of the 40's and 50's. They get very little love when it comes to the cardboard form. But every once in a while a little gem will pop up. Sometimes when you least expect it.
#549 Maurice Richard "The Legend"
I'm sure most of you have seen this photo before. I'll go so far as to call it iconic. Maurice Richard had one of the most intense looks ever. Period.
I would not want to be the goalie he's barreling in on when he's got that type of game face going. Intimidation to the umpteenth degree.
But while most people might just be mesmerized by Maurice's eyes, there's a lot more to this photo if you take the time to look.
Raise your hand if you started your hockey career with a straight-bladed stick? Now raise your hand if you had no idea stick blades were at one time straight. That's right, you could go into a store and just "buy a stick". You didn't have to look for a left or a right.
I feel old.
If you ever get the chance to try using one - do it. You'll have a much better appreciation for stickhandling......and you'll probably have a wicked backhand.
Now on to the gloves. Even though the photo bares no color, I can just imagine the battered beige gloves that are consuming Richard's hands, wrists and forearms. Monsterous, yet Maurice still found a way to have a goal-scorer's touch. I wonder if he cut out the palms so that he could get a better grip on the stick (my dad used to do that with his). And I love the "hot dog wiener" look that the gloves give. It just reeks of retro.
The sweater. Man does that just look heavy. It must have been a sauna wearing that out on the ice. I love the lack of flash and pizzaz the jersey commands as it just embraces its simplicity. Just the logo on the front - that's all that mattered.
And while everybody today wears a helmet (and most sport a visor as well), I can't imagine what "The Rocket" would have looked like if he donned a lid. That photo would look a whole lot different.
Lastly, let's take a look at the background. I'm pretty confident that this photo was from a staged set-up (or he's a real cocky dude for posing). I'm assuming the lights are from windows of some sort and I love that the ice surface seems endless. The black just engulfs everything except Maurice. He stands alone.
I love the fact that Score took the time to include this pic in their 92/93 release (the Canadian product release). Blunt and to the point, Maurice Richard truly earned the moniker of "Legend".
I wanted to give credit to the photographer who flashed the bulb and captured this great moment, but I'm having one heck of a time figuring out that puzzle.
My research initially led me to La Presse (Montreal's newspaper...I think that's where it originated) and carried me towards AP (Associated Press) where the photographer is listed as 'anonymous'. The rights to the photo belong to Bettmann/Corbis/AP Images but I can find nothing with regards to who actually took the photo.
Sadly, it may remain a mystery to me, but this gem will live on forever.
It's that good.