Born in 1921 into a working-class family, Maurice Richard came of age as a French Canadian and athlete during an era when the majority population of Quebec slumbered. A proud, reticent man, Richard aspired only to score goals and win championships for the Montreal Canadiens. But he represented far more than a high-scoring forward who filled seats in NHL arenas. Beginning with his 50-goal, 50-game season in 1944-45 and through his battles with the league over bigotry toward French-Canadian players, Richard's on-ice ferocity and off-ice dignity echoed the change in Quebec. The March 1955 “Richard Riot,” in which fans went on a rampage to protest his suspension, contained the seeds of transformation. By the time Richard retired in 1960, Quebec had begun to reinvent itself as a modern, secular society. Author Charles Foran argues that the province's passionate identification with Richard's success and struggles emboldened its people and changed Canada irrevocably.
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