Getliffe, responsible for Maurice Richard's 'Rocket' nickname, dies

Updated: June 16, 2008, 6:47 PM ET
Associated Press

MONTREAL -- Ray Getliffe, the hard-hitting forward credited with giving Canadiens teammate Maurice Richard the nickname "The Rocket," has died. He was 94 and the second-oldest living former NHL player.

Getliffe was about four months younger than Clint Smith, who played for the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.

Getliffe played 10 seasons with the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens from 1935-45. He died Sunday in London, Ontario, his son told The Canadian Press on Monday.

John Getliffe said his father felt he was fortunate to play the game for a decade.

"He enjoyed it all, it was a great experience and he always said if he had to do it all again, he'd do exactly the same thing," he said.

A native of Galt, Ontario, Ray Getliffe retired at 31 with 136 goals and 250 points in 393 games. He won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 1939 and again with Montreal in 1944.

But his best-known contribution to hockey may have been the moniker he is credited with giving the great Richard in 1942.

"I was sitting on the bench during a practice with Murph Chamberlain and Phil Watson," Getliffe told the Hockey Hall of Fame's Stanley Cup Journal three years ago. "[Elmer] Lach was on the ice with Richard and fed him a lovely pass.

"Richard got the puck and took off. I leaned over to Murph and said, 'Wow, Richard took off like a rocket!' Dink Carroll, he was a sportswriter with the [Montreal] Gazette, heard me and the next day in the paper wrote something about Richard skating like a rocket.

"It wasn't too long after that Dink was using the nickname 'The Rocket' when he was writing about Maurice Richard."

Getliffe is survived by his wife of 74 years, Lorna.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press