Montreal Canadiens: Power Ranking the Habs' 5 Best Coaches Ever
Over the course of Montreal Canadiens history, 27 men have filled their head coaching position. Some of them have been great, perhaps even been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Some of them were only around for a season or two and didn't leave much of a footprint.
Now, I could have made a top 10 list, but in my and most others' opinion, there are three names that always come to mind when you're thinking of the best Habs coaches in history, so stretching it to five is almost a chore.
From Newsy Lalonde to Randy Cunneyworth, here are the five coaches I believe to be the best in Montreal Canadiens history.
5. Cecil Hart
Games Coached: 394
Stanley Cups Won: Two (1930,1931)
The namesake of the Hart Trophy, Cecil Hart is the only coach on this list to have two stints with the team. His first stint began in 1926 and ended in 1932, while his second stint lasted from 1936 1938.
He only missed the playoffs once during his tenures in Montreal.
4. Pat Burns
Games Coached: 320
Stanley Cups Won: None
Despite being the Habs head coach for only four seasons and never winning a Stanley Cup with the team, Pat Burns left a lasting impression. Winning the Jack Adams trophy and leading the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season, his players also benefitted from his coaching that year, as Patrick Roy and Chris Chelios won the Vezina and Norris Trophies, respectively.
3. Dick Irvin
Games Coached: 896
Stanley Cups Won: 3 (1944, 1946, 1953)
The longest-tenured coach in Canadiens history, coaching them for 15 seasons, definitely could be argued as the best coach in Habs history. Two of those seasons, he had records of 38-5-7 and 38-8-4 back when the NHL season was only 50 games. I don't care how many games are in a season; if you lose less than 10 games, that's impressive.
2. Scotty Bowman
Games Coached: 634
Stanley Cups Won: Five (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979)
Scotty Bowman might be the best coach of all time, but when it comes to the best Habs coach of all time, he is edged out. Winning at least 45 games in all of his seasons as head coach and winning five Stanley Cups definitely helps his ranking here. That, and the fact that he ranks second in most of Montreal's coaching stats helps as well.
1. Toe Blake
Games Coached: 914
Stanley Cups Won: Eight (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968)
Hector "Toe" Blake was a great player in his day, helping lead the Montreal Canadiens to three Stanley Cups and becoming captain after Dick Irvin retired from playing and became head coach.
Blake probably didn't know at that time that he would become a better coach than Irvin. He coached more games, won more of them and brought eight more Stanley Cups to the Habs, bringing 11 total Stanley Cups over the course of his playing and coaching career.