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‘Rocket’ Spinal Cord Deteriorating

May 26, 2000

MONTREAL (AP) _ Maurice ``Rocket″ Richard’s spinal column is deteriorating because of osteoarthritis, but his overall condition remained stable Friday.

The osteoarthritis also is causing pain in the hockey great’s legs, Hotel-Dieu Hospital said Friday in a statement.

Richard isn’t eating much but his vital signs are normal.

The 78-year-old former Montreal Canadiens forward was admitted to the hospital last week after the recurrence of a cancerous abdominal tumor that first appeared three years ago.

Chemotherapy has been mentioned as an option but only if Richard regains enough strength to endure the treatments.

Richard was the NHL’s first 50-goal scorer in 1944-45 and went on to score a then-record 544 career goals. He also scored 82 playoff goals and played on eight Stanley Cup champions.

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