'Rocket' Richard statuettes stolen

MARC PIGEON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:42 PM ET

MONTREAL -- A suburban Montreal businessman is mourning the memory of Maurice “Rocket” Richard all over again after three statuettes of the late Canadiens legend were stolen from a billiard-table factory on the weekend.

The statuettes — one in gold, another made of silver and a third cast in bronze — were snatched from a display case that's part of Michel Lemyre's expensive shrine to the most storied franchise in hockey.

Thieves knew exactly what they were looking for when they smashed the display case at Laval-based Canada Billiard, the largest billiard-table maker in the country. Lemyre closed his shop at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and the criminals showed up two hours later to steal the precious statuettes.

“They broke the window, then the display, and they stole the statues,” he said. “They took nothing else. In all, they were here about a minute and a half.”

Lemyre said the three items are valued at $9,000, but their sentimental value is priceless.

“I bought them in 2000 from the Maurice Richard Foundation,” said Lemyre, owner of Canada Billiard, where he displays Habs memorabilia including autographed jerseys and hockey sticks.

Lemyre sent detailed information about the stolen statuettes to the RCMP and Quebec provincial police. Officers have since visited collectible shops and set up a telephone hotline.

“The statuettes will be impossible to sell because of our collaboration with art experts who have good contacts in the art galleries and (with) other potential buyers," said Lt. Daniel Guerin, a Laval police spokesman.

The three Rocket statuettes were the centrepiece of Lemyre’s shrine, and he says the theft is an insult to the family of Richard, one of the most revered figures in Quebec history.

“It’s not the monetary value that’s important, it’s his memory,” said Lemyre, who has upgraded his anti-theft system.

“People have told me it was a real sacrilege.”

It’s the second time in recent months that valuable Canadiens items have been stolen in the Montreal area.

Thirty autographed jerseys were taken from a car belonging to the widow of NHL coach Pat Burns following his funeral on Nov. 30.

Some of the items have since been returned to his family.


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