ATLANTA - Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, who was credited with inventing the slap shot and helped the Montreal Canadiens win six Stanley Cups in the 1950s and early '60s, died Saturday after a brief battle with stomach cancer. He was 75.
Geoffrion died in an Atlanta hospital, the Canadiens said. His cancer was discovered during surgery last week.
Geoffrion's death came on the day his No. 5 jersey was to be retired by the Canadiens.
"He left really quick," said Dan Bouchard, who played for the Atlanta Flames when Geoffrion coached the team in the 1970s. "I just found out last week that he was not doing well and, boom, he's gone."
Geoffrion was the first to bring his stick far above his head when shooting, creating a powerful shot that led to his nickname - when he missed the net, the puck supposedly went "boom boom" when it crashed into the boards.
Geoffrion was a scoring star on powerhouse Canadiens teams that also featured Hall of Famers Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey and Jacques Plante. Montreal won a record five consecutive Stanley Cups from 1956-60.
The Canadiens planned to go on with a scheduled ceremony to retire Geoffrion's jersey before Saturday night's game against the Rangers. Geoffrion's wife, Marlene, his three children and his grandchildren were all expected to attend.
A falling-out with Canadiens management led to the long delay in retiring Geoffrion's number.
He led Atlanta to a 77-92-39 record from 1972-75, including a playoff berth in his second season.
He was around when the NHL returned in 1999 with the expansion Thrashers.
"He was really the foundation of hockey in Atlanta," said Bouchard, who still lives in the city.
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