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5 Trades the Montreal Canadiens Never Should Have Made

Brandon DuBreuilContributor IIIMarch 4, 2014

5 Trades the Montreal Canadiens Never Should Have Made

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    Patrick Roy
    Patrick RoySteve Babineau/Getty Images

    As the NHL trade deadline nears, fans of the Montreal Canadiens are waiting anxiously to see what the team will do. It is in a precarious spot, stuck between being buyers and sellers.

    They could certainly use outside help, especially on offense. A scoring winger would help the team's playoff chances.

    Yet they also have a few pending free agents who might not re-sign with the squad this summer. Trading them now would fetch a nice return. 

    Canadiens fans will debate what moves should, or shouldn't, be made right up until the trade deadline on March 5. They will all agree on one thing, however: They don't want to see general manager Marc Bergevin make a bad move. Especially not a trade like the ones you're about to read about. 

    For all of their success over the years, the Montreal Canadiens have made some truly horrible transactions. Here are five trades the Montreal Canadiens should never have made. 

5. Rod Langway, Doug Jarvis, Craig Laughlin and Brian Engblom to Washington

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    Rod Langway
    Rod LangwaySteve Babineau/Getty Images

    Date: September 9, 1982

    To Washington: Rod Langway, Doug Jarvis, Craig Laughlin and Brian Engblom

    To Montreal: Ryan Walter and Rick Green

    The Washington Capitals were established in 1974-75 and were an NHL bottom feeder for years. In its first eight years, the franchise's highest point total in an 80-game season was 70. Until the Canadiens decided to help, that is. 

    Doug Jarvis was one of the best defensive forwards in the game at the time of the trade. He had been an integral part of Montreal's four straight championships in the mid-1970s. He wound up playing three-and-a-half seasons in Washington and was an important part of the team's success. 

    Craig Laughlin spent four-and-a-half years in Washington, scoring 20 or more goals three times. 

    Brian Engblom's career with the Capitals didn't last long, as he was part of the trade that brought Larry Murphy to Washington the next season. 

    But the key was Rod Langway. 

    He was already a Stanley Cup-winning defenseman with the Canadiens and had a bright future. Giving up on him turned out to be a huge mistake.

    Following the trade, he was named captain of the Capitals and led his team to the playoffs 11 consecutive times until he retired. He also won the Norris Trophy in 1983 and 1984. He is regarded as one of the better American defenseman to ever play the game. 

    In return, the Canadiens received Ryan Walter and Rick Green. 

    Walter was Washington's captain at the time and was a coveted young star. At the time of the trade, he was coming off a season in which he had scored 38 goals. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, that was the best offensive year of his career. 

    Walter went on to have a solid career with the Habs. He played in 604 regular-season games and had 349 points, winning the Stanley Cup in 1985-86.

    Green was also a part of that championship team. His career in Montreal as a physical, hard-hitting defenseman spanned 399 games. 

    The Canadiens did not receive total busts from this trade. They did, however, give up one of the best defenseman of the 1980s. 

    The trade that sent Langway, Jarvis, Laughlin and Engblom to the Washington Capitals ultimately made them one of the top teams in the NHL. After the transaction, they would go on to qualify for the playoffs every year until 1996-97. It was one of the worst moves in the history of the Canadiens. 

4. Rogatien Vachon to Los Angeles

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    Rogie Vachon
    Rogie VachonDenis Brodeur/Getty Images

    Date: November 4, 1971

    To Los Angeles: Rogatien Vachon

    To Montreal: Denis DeJordy, Dale Hoganson, Noel Price and Doug Robinson

    Rogatien Vachon was one of the best goalies in hockey during the late 1960s. By 1970, he was a two-time Stanley Cup champion (1968 and 1969) and a Vezina Trophy winner (1968). 

    But in 1971, a young star named Ken Dryden won the goaltender battle in Montreal and led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup as a rookie.

    Vachon found himself on the trading block and was sent to Los Angeles in exchange for Denis DeJordy, Dale Hoganson, Noel Price and Doug Robinson.

    A lot of players, very little value. 

    Dejordy, a goaltender, appeared in seven games in Montreal, finishing with a 4.52 goals-against average. 

    Hoganson played 47 games for the Canadiens, registering two assists and a plus-nine rating as a defenseman. 

    Price was assigned to the Nova Scotia Voyageurs of the AHL following the trade and wound up finishing his career in Atlanta. 

    Robinson was also sent to Nova Scotia before retiring from the NHL following the 1971-72 season. 

    Vachon, on the other hand, went on to have a great career as a King. He ended up playing 389 regular-season games in LA and posted a 171-148-66 record. He also led the Kings to the playoffs on five occasions. 

    To this day, Vachon is still the Kings record holder in most career goalie statistics, including games played, wins and shutouts. 

    So in total, Montreal received 47 games played (two assists) and seven appearances by a goalie who allowed more than 4.5 goals per game. LA received the best goalie in the history of its franchise. 

    Not a smart trade for the Canadiens. 

3. John Leclair, Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne to Philadelphia

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    John Leclair
    John LeclairGlenn Cratty/Getty Images

    Date: February 9, 1995

    To Philadelphia: John Leclair, Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne

    To Montreal: Mark Recchi and a third-round pick

    Montreal fans do not enjoy recollecting the transactions that occurred in 1995. This was the first blockbuster that failed (the second tops this list). 

    Serge Savard, general manager for the first 10 months of 1995, wanted to make a move for a scorer. Mark Recchi, an established offensive threat, was available, and Savard pulled the trigger. 

    Acquiring Recchi wasn't a mistake. He would go on to score 120 goals and 322 points for the Canadiens over the course of 346 regular-season games. 

    The mistake was what Savard gave up. 

    John Leclair was a blossoming power forward who had already become a Montreal hero for his overtime-winning goals in the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals. He would go on to team up with Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg to form the "Legion of Doom," arguably the most dominant line of the 1990s. 

    Leclair scored 25 goals in 37 games to finish the 1994-95 season in Philadelphia. He would then go on to score 51, 50, 51, 43 and 40 goals in his next five years. 

    Eric Desjardins became an integral part of the Flyers' defense for the next decade, helping the team reach the playoffs for 11 straight seasons. 

    Gilbert Dionne finished the season in Philadelphia before playing the rest of his career in the minor leagues. 

    In trading away Leclair, Savard gave up on a bright young player far too early to solve an immediate need. He had done the same with Chris Chelios five years before. Apparently he hadn't learned his lesson. 

    It turned out to be a terrible trade for the Canadiens and surely was a big reason why Savard was fired later that year. 

     

2. Chris Chelios to Chicago

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    Chris Chelios
    Chris CheliosDenis Brodeur/Getty Images

    Date: September 4, 1990

    To Chicago: Chris Chelios and a second-round pick 

    To Montreal: Denis Savard

    In 1980, the Montreal Canadiens held the No. 1 pick in the entry draft. The hockey world widely expected them to select the local junior star, Denis Savard. Instead, they opted for Doug Wickenheiser.

    A case could have been made for selecting Wickenheiser first overall at the time. He had just finished a season in which he scored 170 points for the Regina Pats. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, Wickenheiser was a bust and lasted just 202 games in Montreal. 

    Savard wound up being drafted third overall by the Chicago Blackhawks. He immediately became an NHL star, scoring 75 points in 76 games his rookie year. He would go on to break the 100-point mark five times in the 1980s. 

    The Canadiens obviously regretted their decision and decided to make up for it in 1990, shipping their young, Norris Trophy-winning defenseman and a second-round pick to Chicago for Savard. 

    The problem was this: Chelios was just reaching his prime, and Savard was already past his. 

    Savard had a decent career in Montreal, but it lasted just three seasons. He scored 179 points in 210 regular-season games and helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 1993. 

    Chelios would go on to play another 19 seasons in the NHL, winning both the Stanley Cup and the Norris Trophy twice more. 

    The Canadiens wound up giving away one of the best defenseman to ever play in the NHL for three years of a great player who was in the twilight of his career. It was a huge mistake, and one Canadiens fans are praying the current management doesn't make with P.K. Subban. 

1. Patrick Roy and Mike Keane to Colorado

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    Patrick Roy
    Patrick RoyHANS DERYK/Associated Press

    Date: December 2, 1995

    To Colorado: Patrick Roy and Mike Keane

    To Montreal: Jocelyn Thibault, Andrei Kovalenko and Martin Rucinsky

    In June of 1993, the Montreal Canadiens were on top of the hockey world. They had just won their 24th Stanley Cup, led by an iconic hometown hero named Patrick Roy.

    Just two-and-a-half years later, the franchise hit rock bottom. 

    Rookie coach Mario Tremblay, who previously had a rocky relationship with Roy from his time in the media, decided to leave his star goaltender in the net for nine goals against. After he was finally pulled, Roy went directly to team president Ronald Corey and demanded a trade.

    First-year general manager Rejean Houle was now put in an unfortunate situation where he was forced to trade the team's best, and most popular, player. Four days later he did so, sending Roy and team captain Mike Keane to the Colorado Avalanche

    Roy would go on to lead his new squad to two Stanley Cups, padding his Hall-of-Fame resume along the way. 

    As for the players who came to Montreal, well, Martin Rucinsky was a decent hockey player. He scored 20-plus goals three times for the Habs. 

    Jocelyn Thibault was never going to succeed after taking over from a local hero who was already considered one of the best goaltenders in the game. He played 158 games in Montreal and wound up with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. 

    Andrei Kovalenko scored 17 goals with Montreal during the 1995-96 season before being shipped off to Edmonton

    This infamous transaction was eventually dubbed "Le Trade" by the Montreal media. It set the franchise back years. Some would argue that the Canadiens haven't fully recovered since. 

    It was an unfair situation for Houle to be in, yet he cannot be let off the hook for getting so little in return for the best goalie in the NHL. It was easily the worst trade in the history of the Montreal Canadiens.  

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