Oldest Montreal Canadiens player dies at 94
Ray Getliffe, who was the oldest living former Montreal Canadiens player and the second-oldest NHL alumnus, died Sunday in London, Ont. He was 94.
Elmer Lach, 90, is now the oldest living Canadien, while former New York Ranger and Chicago Blackhawk Clint Smith, born Dec. 12, 1913, is reported to be the oldest living NHL alumnus.
Getliffe played with the Boston Bruins and the Canadiens during a 10-year NHL career that began in 1935-36, winning a Stanley Cup with each team.
But his claim to fame might be as the man behind Maurice Richard’s nickname.
Getliffe, in a Where Are They Now? feature written by Ian MacDonald, that appeared in The Gazette in April 2004, recalled the first time he saw the rookie Richard on the ice in 1942.
“Reporters stood behind the bench at practice,” Getliffe recalled.
“Elmer Lach threw a puck over to this new kid who flew in from the blue line. I said: ‘Look at that, he’s like a rocket.’ Dink Carroll (a Montreal sports columnist at the time) heard me and the next day it was in The Gazette. That’s how Richard became Rocket.”
Getliffe, a left-winger, played in 393 regular-season games during his career, scoring 136 goals and adding 137 assists to go along with 250 penalty minutes. He won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 1939 and with the Canadiens in 1944.
Born in Galt, Ont., he was brought up in London, where he moved through the minor ranks before being signed as a free agent by the New York Rangers, who traded him to Boston for cash.
He was with the Bruins for three years before being traded to the Canadiens, along with Charlie Sands, for Herb Cain.
Getliffe was married to Lorna, 95, for 74 years, a union that produced two children, seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Visitation is Wednesday, 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Westview Funeral Chapel in London, Ont, with a memorial service Thursday at 3 p.m.