Bernie Geoffrion was born in Montreal in 1931, the height of the Howie Morenz era. Geoffrion played for several teams in Quebec before making the jump to the NHL at 19 years old in 1950. He had an impressive showing with 14 points in 18 games and would have his official rookie season the next year. In the 1951-52 season, Geoffrion launched up the depth chart and began to rival Maurice Richard for the role of first line right wing for the Canadiens. Geoffrion led the entire Canadiens in goals with 30 on the season, taking him the Calder trophy as the NHL’s best rookie.
Geoffrion’s was a little more lacklustre, as Richard avoided any major injuries and took over the top right wing role in Montreal. The lack of ice time pushed Geoffrion down to 39 points in 65 games. Despite his own poor season, the Canadiens still managed to take home the Stanley Cup, the first of Geoffrion’s career. In the 1953-54 season, it was Geoffrion’s turn to have an injured season. But despite playing in just 54 games, Geoffrion still scored 54 points and an impressive 29 goals, a rate higher than any other player in the NHL during that season.
Geoffrion’s nickname “Boom Boom” is a reference to how Geoffrion popularized the slap shot. It is said that one day, during a practice, Geoffrion got frustrated and whacked his stick at a puck. After noticing how it took off, he decided to incorporate the strategy into his game. In the 1954-55 season, the Canadiens had a very dominant team and Geoffrion and Richard were neck and neck in the scoring race. Richard had held the lead, but was suspended shortly before the end of the season due to the famous events that led to the 1955 Richard Riots. Despite fans clamoring for Geoffrion to led Richard win the Art Ross, Geoffrion still pursued the award himself and overtook Richard in the final game of the season. Geoffrion also tied Richard for the goal lead with 38 goals.
Frequently plagued by small injuries or stomach problems, Geoffrion missed another 11 games in the 1955-56 season, but still scored 62 points, good for 7th in the NHL, with all six players above him playing in all 70 games. Geoffrion would go on to win five consecutive Cups with the dominant Montreal Canadiens in the late 50s. In the 1957 playoffs, Geoffrion would lead the NHL in goals (11) and points (18) in just 10 games. Incredibly, Geoffrion began to take his play up another notch in the 1957-58 season. Though his season was shortened to 42 games, he still scored 50 points, now cleanly surpassing the point-per-game mark. In the 1959-60 season, Geoffrion had his best season yet with 30 goals and 71 points in just 59 games. He was named to the Second All-Star team for the second time in his career.
Being a right-winger in a league with both Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard made it difficult for Geoffrion to ever make it on the all-star teams, so he had to relish the moments of glory he got. Amazingly, everything fell into place for Geoffrion in the 1960-61 season. Teaming up mostly with Jean Beliveau, Geoffrion accomplished the great feat of becoming the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season, adding 45 assists along the way for a stunning 95-point season. This 95-point mark tied Howe’s mark set in the early 50s and fell one point shy of Dickie Moore’s 96-point record season set two years earlier. Geoffrion was awarded the spot on the First All-Star Team, won the Art Ross Trophy, won the Hart Trophy, and even finished 5th in Lady Byng Memorial voting.
Following that season, Geoffrion would return back to a point-per-game in the 1961-62 season and after two more seasons of decline, would retire at the age of 33 in 1964. Geoffrion came out of retirement in 1966 to play two more season for the New York Rangers and played surprisingly well in the 1966-67 season. After a rather lacklustre 1967-68 season, Geoffrion retired for the second and final time, this time just after turning 37 years old. Geoffrion would dabble in coaching in the 60s and 70s, hoping to coach the Canadiens, which he would get the opportunity to do in the late 70s. His work was unfortunately cut short due to his stomach problems, however.
Geoffrion retired with 393 goals in 883 games at the end of his career, good enough for 5th all-time. Geoffrion was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 and had his No. 5 retired by the Canadiens in 2006.