Gomez Should Consult The Pocket Rocket on Goal Slumps

Henri Richard (r) overcame a lengthy goal scoring slump, while on the way to his record 11th Stanley Cup in 1973. Photo: Hockey Hall of Fame.

We know there's been a lot of scrutiny by a select group of fans and media, over Scott Gomez's goalless drought this season.

It will be at least one more game, maybe two before the Habs center gets a chance to net a goal this season. Including last season's playoffs, Gomez has gone 49 games without scoring a goal. He's at 11 calendar months and counting, if you'd rather track it this way.

But while Gomez's futility record is one to look at, did anyone seem to care that Canadiens legend Henri Richard went as long without a goal? No, I didn't think so. Perhaps the current No. 11 needs to have a chat wit the legendary No. 16.

On January 10, 1973, The Pocket Rocket scored his first two goals season, and added two assists, snapping a 47-game goal-scoring drought. The two goals came at the expense of the Minnesota North Stars, who were thumped 6-0 by the Canadiens.

His last prior goal came during the regular season, on March 26, 1972, against the Boston Bruins. He went without a goal in the 1972 playoffs.

At the time, Richard was seventh in career active goal scorers. Given his legacy of an already insurmountable 10 Stanley Cups to his name, chances are that Forum fans didn't take out their frustrations on the then 36-year old center. It helped too that he had a list of future Hall of Famers in his supporting roster.

Hockey resume aside however, that would not matter to head coach Scotty Bowman, who was notorious for benching even the best players if he felt they were struggling. Thus Richard found himself on the bench, on several occasions, early on in his new coach's first season.

The total could be off by a game or so, depending on if The Pocket Rocket missed any games due to injury. With an assist from Robert Lefebvre, we do know that the 52-game drought, reported on the Hockey Hall of Fame site, is inaccurate.

But while Richard's goal scoring touch was apparently behind him, his leadership and heart still played an important roll with the club. There was no Corsi, Fenwick or PTO to give his supporters any proof that Richard still belonged with the club, but if there were we'd have to suspect he'd excel.

Richard finished the regular season with 8 goals and 35 assists, but brought it when necessary in the playoffs.

Amidst speculation that the 1973 Stanley Cup Playoffs would be his last, Richard would score six times in the post season, en route to his eleventh Cup. It was his first, and only time to hold Lord Stanley's mug as Canadiens captain. He played two more seasons, scoring 19 goals in the following year, before retiring in 1975.

Of note, that January game was also a birthday celebration for another Canadiens legend, Frank Mahovlich. The Big M celebrated his then 35th birthday that night with two goals of his own. Mahovlich is a healthy 74 years old today.

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