With the off-season now upon us, there are not many issues to discuss, so I thought it would be fun to rank the top 10 players in Montreal Canadiens history. Only their days with the Canadiens will be counted.
No. 1: Jean Beliveau- The big center played 20 seasons for the franchise. He won two Hart Trophies, one Art Ross Trophy and one Conn Smythe Trophy. He was one of the all-time classiest players in the NHL, both on the ice and off. He made his career as a strong skater and was hard if not impossible to slow down. He was nicknamed after a popular French song of the day by the same name, "le Gros Bill," and in all he played on an incredible 10 Stanley Cup-winning teams as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 1,125 G 507 A 712 P 1,219
No. 2: Maurice Richard- "The Rocket" was well know for his furious temper. He had Lightning quick moves and a dynamic wrist shot. He was the first player to score 50 goals in a season and the first to score 500 in a career. He won the Hart Trophy in 1947, was selected to be a first team all-star eight times and he won eight cups.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 978 G 544 A 421 P 965
No. 3: Doug Harvey- The second best defense men in NHL history behind Bobby Orr, Harvey had a great talent for controlling the tempo of a game, changing the speed of the game as he saw fit. He was one of the smartest players ever to lace them up. He quarterbacked the power play, defended tenaciously, blocked shots and intimidated the opposition by merely stepping on the ice. As much as any skater before or since, he was the complete player who meant everything to his team. He won seven James Norris Trophies and six Stanley Cups.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 890 G 76 A 371 P 447
No. 4: Jacques Plante- Plante was the first goaltender to ever start wearing the mask in every game he played. He was the first to skate in behind the net to stop the puck for his defense men. He also was the first to raise his arm on an icing call to let his defense men know what was happening on the ice, and he perfected a stand-up style of goal tending that emphasized positional play, cutting down the angles and staying square to the shooter. Plante won seven Vezina Trophies, one Hart Trophy and six Stanley Cups.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 556 W-L-T 311-134-108 SO 58
No. 5: Guy Lafleur- Known as one of the most exciting players ever, Lafleur could skate like the wind and his long hair would be flowing behind him. He also had a booming shot. He was the first player in NHL history with at least 50 goals and 100 points in six straight seasons. Lafleur won three Art Ross Trophies, three Lester B. Pearsons, two Hart Memorial Trophies, one Conn Smythe Trophy and five Stanley Cups.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 961 G 518 A 728 P 1,246
No. 6: Larry Robinson- "Big Bird" was highly competitive and provided toughness with his huge frame. He played well with the puck and did not shy away from the offensive game at all. He was the number one defense men of the big three that the Canadiens possessed throughout the 1970's. Robinson won two James Norris Trophies, one Conn Smythe Trophy and six Stanley Cups.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 1,202 G 197 A 686 P 883
No. 7: Bernie Geoffrion- Geofrion is known as the innovator of the slap shot and it got him the nickname "Boom-boom". Despite suffering from numerous injuries throughout his career Geoffrion was never one to back down from playing and he also had a fiery temper. At the end of his career he would have two Art Ross Trophies, one Hart Memorial Trophy and six Stanley Cups.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 766 G 371 A 388 P 759
No. 8: Howie Morenz- Morenz has often been referred to as hockey's first bonafide pro superstar. His small stature allowed him to be one the fastest skaters in NHL history. Morenz would sadly die from a injury he suffered on the ice as he would break his leg in four places in 1937 and died from complications of the injury. He was one of the first players inducted into the hockey hall of fame in 1945 and in 1950, Howie Morenz was voted the outstanding hockey player of the half-century by a national press poll. He would two Stanley Cups with the Canadiens in his career.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 460 G 256 A 156 P 412
No. 9: Ken Dryden- Dryden only played eight seasons in the NHL and won an amazing SIX cups! He left the NHL to go to college and get his degree. He is the only player to win the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) AFTER winning the Conn Smythe (Play-off MVP) in the prior season. Dryden also won five Vezinas in his short time in the NHL.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 397 W-L-T 258-57-74 SO 46
No. 10: Patrick Roy- Confident and quirky, Patrick developed a style that saw him become the winning est goaltender in the history of the National Hockey League. He took the Canadiens by storm in the 1985-86 and he was the first rookie goaltender to lead a team to the Stanley Cup since Ken Dryden. He popularized the butterfly style and he was the first in a wave of goaltenders coming from Quebec. Although his career in Montreal didn't end well, he should have his jersey retired in the future. In his career he won five William M. Jennings Trophies, three Vezina Trophies, three Conn Smythes and four Stanley Cups.
Stats as a Canadien: GP 551 W-L-T 289-175-87 SO 29