March 6, 2020 / 6:45 PM / 3 months ago

NHL: Former Canadiens captain Henri 'Pocket Rocket' Richard dies aged 84

FILE PHOTO: Montreal Canadiens legend Henri Richard waves to the crowd during the NHL All-Star hockey game in Montreal January 25, 2009. REUTERS/Shaun Best/File Photo

(Reuters) - Henri Richard, who won an NHL-record 11 Stanley Cup titles during a Hall of Fame career spent entirely with the Montreal Canadiens, died on Friday in Laval, Quebec, aged 84.

Richard, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, earned a reputation as a tenacious and determined player during a 20-year NHL career in which the diminutive speedster established himself as on of the game’s all-time greats.

“Henri Richard was one of the true giants of the game,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

“The entire National Hockey League family mourns the passing of this incomparable winner, leader, gentleman and ambassador for our sport and the Montreal Canadiens.”

Known as the “Pocket Rocket” because of his size and due to the fact that his older brother and team mate Maurice was already known as “The Rocket”, Richard made his NHL debut in 1955 and won a Stanley Cup in each of his first five seasons.

The Montreal-born Richard, who was Montreal’s captain for his final four season, holds the Canadiens all-time record in games played with 1,258 and ranks third in team assists (688) and points (1,046).

In 2017, Richard was named as one of the top 100 players in NHL history as voted on by a panel commissioned by the league for its centennial celebration.

“Henri ‘Pocket Rocket’ Richard was a great player and a great ambassador for the Montreal Canadiens organization,” Canadiens owner Geoff Molson wrote on Twitter.

“His passing is a great loss for all. My thoughts are with his family.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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