Montreal Canadiens All-Time Lineup

Matt Eichel@@mattyalloutSenior Writer IAugust 7, 2008

As with many other teams already, there have been presented all-time lineups consisting of some of the greatest players to ever play the game.

Now, it's time for the all-time lineup for the most winningest franchise in NHL history - Les Canadiens de Montreal.


Line 1: Maurice "Rocket" Richard - Jean Beliveau - Guy Lafleur

One of the players that brought fame and fortune to the NHL in its earliest stages, Maurice Richard holds the Canadiens record for most goals with 544.  At one point in NHL history, Richard's 544 goals held up as the benchmark for all other greats to reach.  It was slowly overtaken by names such as Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky.  Yet, Richard had an impact on the game like no other before him.  He was the epitomy of the French Canadien community and was a hero to those around him.  His #9 hangs from the rafters of the Bell Centre today.

Idolizing Richard was the man who won the first ever Conn Smythe Trophy Jean Beliveau.  The towering 6'3 frame of Beliveau was not only a deterrant to opposing defensemen but a power scoring machine.  Beliveau ranks second among Canadiens in points with 1219 points in 1125 games.  Beliveau was an inspirational leader for many years and his #4 hangs from the Bell Centre rafters today.

So does Guy Lafleur's #10.  The all-time leading scorer in Canadiens history with 1246 points in only 961 games.  Lafleur's six 50-goal seasons is tops among Canadiens, while his 16 hat tricks ranks third behind both Richard and Beliveau (26 and 18 respectively).  Lafleur defined what it was to be a Canadiens player in the 1970s and into the 1980s.  Lafleur notched six 100+ point seasons, the most by any Canadien player by four seasons (Pete Mahovlich had two 100 point seasons).  Lafleur's 14 seasons in Montreal were the most productive of his career as he was infamous for retiring and then playing a few more seasons with the New York Rangers and the Canadiens arch-rivals the Quebec Nordiques.



Line 2: Henri "Pocket Rocket" Richard - Yvan "Roadrunner" Cournoyer - Dickie Moore

Henri Richard's unprecedented 11 career Stanley Cups set the mark for any player and will likely never be duplicated ever again.  The "Poket Rocket", being the younger brother of the "Rocket", may have only stood 5'7 tall, but was a role player that led the Canadiens with his fiery play, much like his older sibling.  Richard's 1046 points is third all-time in the Canadiens organization.  Along with Lafleur and Beliveau, Richard is one of only three Canadiens to have score 1000 points in a Canadiens jersey.  

The defining moment in his career was in 1973 Stanley Cup Final.  After being bench by coach Al MacNeil, the Canadiens captain would go out and score the game winner against the Chicago Blackhawks for his 11th and final Stanley Cup.  Richard's #16 hangs from the rafters of the Bell Centre today.

Yvan Cournoyer scored only 40 goals that year and was a critical part to the Canadiens success.  With Beliveau and then Richard now gone, along with teammate Guy Lafleur, Cournoyer was one of the newer breeds of stars coming into the 1970s.  Nicknamed "The Roadrunner", Cournoyer's blazing quick speed and deft puck-handling skills made him a dangerous player on the ice.  

One of many Canadiens that took part in the 1972 Summit Series, Cournoyer's career was marked by a great deal of winning.  Cournoyer wore the captaincy for the last few years of his career as his numbers started to dwindle.  Even still, Cournoyer's 428 career goals with Montreal stands fourth all-time in Canadiens history.  Cournoyer's four 40-goal seasons ranks second on the all-time list.  His #12 hangs in the Bell Centre rafters.

Dickie Moore was a special kind of player.  Moore's three 30-goal seasons in an era where goal-scoring was on the rise is a testament to the kind of player Moore was in this era of hockey.  Winning back-to-back Art Ross Trophy's as the league's leading scorer in 1957-58 and 1958-59 with 84 and 96 points respectively showed the offensive firepower within the Canadiens lineup of the later 1950s.  

And that was on a team stacked with other big names such as Richard, Beliveau, Harvey, and Geoffrion.  Moore's career numbers are small, but that is only because he played only eleven seasons in a Canadiens uniform.  Dickie Moore's 594 points in 654 games stands 12 all-time in Canadiens history.  Moore's #12 hangs along with Cournoyer's #12 in the Bell Centre rafters.


Line 3: Steve Shutt - Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion - Jacques Lemaire

Steve Shutt was a character guy in the dressing room during his thirteen seasons in Montreal.  A one-time 60 goal scorer and a four-time 40 goal scorere, Shutt was a two-way forward with an offensive upside.  And it showed.  Shutt's 408 goals as a Canadien ranks fifth all-time behind Lafleur, Richard, Beliveau, and Cournoyer.  Shutt and Lafleur are tied for the most goals by a Canadien in a season with 60.  Shutt's career year came in 1976-77 when he notched 60 goals along with 105 points.  It would be the only 100 point season of his career.

Yet, Shutt would only play in 913 career games, spending one season with the Los Angeles Kings before returning to Montreal and retiring mid-way through the 1984-85 season.

Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion is known for his terrifying slapshot - as his name suggests.  Geoffrion's 371 goals as a Canadiens ranks 6th behind Shutt and it all came in an era where goal-scoring was on the rise.  Geoffrion's #5 hangs from the Bell Centre rafters and is a sign of one of the greatest players to wear that number during an NHL career.  Geoffrion's 14 seasons in a Canadiens uniform was filled with many a Stanley Cup parade, including five straight at the end of the 1950s along with teammate Maurice "Rocket" Richard.  Geoffrion would follow Richard by scoring 50 goals in a season of his own in 1960-61.

Jacques Lemaire may be known today as a strict defensive systems coach of the Minnesota Wild, yet he was known back in the 1970s and early 1980s as a two-way forward.  Lemaire's offensive upside paid dividends as he ranks seventh on the all-time points list with 835 points in 853 games as a Canadien.  In each of his twelve season in Montreal, Lemaire never scored less than 20 goals.  His career season was in 1972-73 when he notched 95 points and 44 goals.  Lemaire's 366 goals ranks seventh all-time on the Canadiens list.


Line 4: Howie Morenz - Elmer Lach - Hector "Toe" Blake

In an era of hockey that had the world in the dark about the sport, Howie Morenz was one of its first heros.  Wearing the legendary #7, Morenz wreaked havoc on opponent defenders.  In an era where goal-scoring was not too abundant, Morenz notched 40 goals in 1929-30.  His 256 goals in 460 games as a Canadien was an impressive stat back in the 20s and 30s.

 It is still good enough to stand eleventh all-time in Canadiens history.  Morenz's tragic death after a blood clot in his injured leg hit all Canadien fans hard in 1937.  His #7 was immediately raised to the rafters of the Montreal Forum.

Elmer Lach was one of the best role players in Canadiens history.  His feistiness proved effective as he was joined with Toe Blake and the Rocket to form the famous "Punch Line".  Lach's four 20+ goal seasons were good enough to get him 215 as a Canadien in his career.  But it is not Lach's offensive achievements that get him onto the fourth line of the all-time roster, but his leadership and determination in a time when the world knew very little about hockey.

Along with Lach, Hector "Toe" Blake is one of the foremost figures in Canadiens history.  Yet, it is not only as a coach, but also as a player that Blake deserves recognition.  Blake spent most of thirteen seasons with the Canadiens capturing a few Stanley Cups along the way.  Blake's six 20+ goal seasons in the 30s and 40s propelled the Canadiens offense and helped lead the way for the Rocket to enter the hockey stage.  Blake's 235 goals ranks 16th all-time in the Canadiens organization.


Honourable Mention:

Bob Gainey (1160 GP, 239 G, 262 A, 501 PTS - Frank J. Selke Award winner)

Claude Provost (1005 GP, 254 G, 335 A, 589 PTS)

Mats Naslund (617 GP, 243 G, 369 A, 612 PTS)

Pete Mahovlich (581 GP, 223 G, 346 A, 569 PTS)

Aurel Joliat (644 GP, 270 G, 190 A, 460 PTS)

Guy Lapointe (777 GP, 166 G, 406 A, 572 PTS)

John Ferguson (1214 PIMs in Montreal)


Defense Pairing 1: Larry "Big Bird" Robinson - Serge Savard

Part of the big three, Larry Robinson and Serge Savard served as the backbone of the dominant, dynastic Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s.  Winning six Stanley Cups in ten years, the Canadiens dominated like no other team has next to the 1980 Edmonton Oilers, who draw close resemblance to them.  Robinson's hulking 6'3 frame was an oddity at his time.  Yet, he threw it around with the best of them.  Fast and speed up front, the Canadiens were big and bruising in the back end.  

Robinson played 17 seasons in Montreal, the third most by any Canadiens player next to the Richards and Beliveau.  Robinson's numbers don't lie - 1202 GP, 197 G, 686 A, 883 PTS as a bone-crushing defenseman.  His two James Norris Memorial Trophies along with a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1977-78 helped cement Robinson's place in Canadiens history.  Robinson's #19 hangs in the Bell Centre rafters today.

And Serge Savard wasn't half bad either.  Also at 6'3, Savard was never known for offensive output but was known for his steady defensive play.  That play got him named to the 1972 Team Canada in the Summit Series.  Savard was known as the steady defensman along with the high scoring Robinson and Guy Lapointe.  Savard's career numbers are not large, but his 917 games played ranks 9th all-time in the Canadiens organization.  Among other accomplishments, Savard won the 1968-69 Conn Smythe Trophy at a young age after winning the 1966-67 Rookie of the Year Award.  Savard's #18 hangs beside Robinson's #19 in the Bell Centre rafters.


Defense Pairing 2: Doug Harvey - Guy Lapointe

Known as one of the first premier defensemen in the NHL, Doug Harvey was the dominant player on the Canadiens blueline.  Not known for his scoring touch, Harvey was a dependable defenseman and a seven time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner as best defensemen.  Harvey would play thirteen seasons in a Canadiens uniform winning many Stanley Cups including the five consecutive championships from 1956-1960.  Harvey's #2 hangs in the Bell Centre rafters.

Guy Lapointe's #5 also hangs alongside Geoffrion's #5 in the Bell Centre rafters.  Known as the other half of the big three, Lapointe played in parts of thirteen seasons in Montreal winning a Stanley Cup in most of his years there.  Lapointe's career seasons would come in 1974-75 when he notched a career high 28 goals and then again in 1976-77 when he'd notch a career high 76 points.  Lapointe was known for his size too, being 6'0 along with the 6'3 Robinson and Savard.


Defense Pairing 3: Emile Bouchard - Tom Johnson

Emile "Butch" Bouchard was the first great Montreal Canadien defender.  In his 1941-42 rookie season, Bouchard would cement himself on the Canadiens back end for the next 15 seasons, where he would anchor the defense.  His 785 career games played ranks 20th all-time, along with his 863 PIMs ranking 13th all-time.  Bouchard may not have been a fercious scorer, but he certainly was a ferocious defender, never relenting on defending his own end.  Bouchard's 15 seasons in Montreal ranks seventh, tied with Cournoyer and Claude Provost.

The Baldur, Manitoba native didn't know what to think when he joined the Canadiens in 1950-51.  After that, it didn't seem to matter.  Tom Johnson was known as one of the most dependable, never-before heard about defenders in Canadiens history.  Yet, Johnson played in 857 career games with Montreal.  Spending parts of thirteen seasons in Montreal, Johnson, along with Harvey, would help the Canadiens to win their five consecutive Stanley Cups in the late 1950s.  Johnson's 897 PIMs is good enough for 11th all-time in Canadiens history.


Honourable Mention:

Jacques Lapierriere (691 GP, 674 PIMs in Montreal)

JC Tremblay (794 GP, 306 A in Montreal)

Jean-Guy Talbot (791 GP, 844 PIMs in Montreal)

Patrice Brisebois (791 GP in Montreal)


Starting Goaltender: Jacques Plante

Of course the all-time games played, wins, and minutes played leader of the Montreal Canadiens will get the starting job.  Carey Price has a long way to catch up to Plante, no less Dryden or Roy.  Plante's 556 GP, 312 wins, and 33,226 minutes played all are Canadien bests, with his 58 shutouts coming in as second best next to the legendary George Hainsworth.  

Plante's career GAA in Montreal was a sparkling 2.23.  And add to that the fact Plante won seven Vezina Trophies as well as winning the Hart Memorial and the Vezina Trophies as a goaltender.  Plante also redefined the position by wearing a mask for the first time after taking an Andy Bathgate slapshot to the noggin.  Plante's #1 hangs from the Bell Centre rafters. 


Backup Goaltender: Ken Dryden

This is hard to choose.  So many great goalies, but looking at the success Dryden had, despite his short career, pays the reason why he should be the starting goaltender.  Seven Stanley Cups as a goaltender is the record that still stands today.  Five Veznia Trophies, a Conn Smythe Trophy, and a Calder Trophy win as rookie of the year makes Dryden's resume even better.  Only twice in his entire NHL career did Dryden have 10 losses in a season.  Never did Dryden ever dip below 30 wins in a season.  

Thus, Dryden's numbers stand up.  Even though he's third on the all-time Canadiens win list with 258, which is only 31 less than second place Patrick Roy, Dryden was fortunate enough to play for the Canadiens at their peak of power.  Dryden's other numbers also are spectacular with a 2.24 GAA (3rd all-time) in an era of high scoring.  Dryden's #29 hangs from the Bell Centre rafters.


Honourable Mention:

Patrick Roy (551 GP, 289-175-66, 29 SO, 2.77 GAA)

George Hainsworth (318 GP, 167-97-54, 75 SO, 1.75 GAA)

Bill Durnan (383 GP, 208-112-62, 34 SO, 2.36 GAA)

Georges Vezina (190 GP, 103-81-5, 13 SO, 3.28 GAA)


Coach: Hector "Toe" Blake

Another hard decision.  Blake was the instrumental coach behind the Canadiens five consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the late 1950s.  Blake was a fiery coach who had a distinct hatred towards Toronto Maple Leafs GM and coach George "Punch" Imlach.  Though the never cared much for talking to each other, the rivalry ensued and fueled what would become the most heated rivalry in the NHL in the original six era.  Blake's eight career Stanley Cup titles as head coach stood the test of time until Scotty Bowman captured his ninth career Cup with Detroit.   Yet, Blake now holds the record for most Cups wins with one team.

In thirteen seasons as coach, Blake would only lose five times in the playoffs and win less than 30 games only once.


Assistant Coach: Scotty Bowman

The all-time most winningest coach in NHL history, Bowman didn't get his big break until he came over the Canadiens.  After losing his first two Stanley Cup Finals appearances to the Canadiens as head coach of the expansion St. Louis Blues, Bowman found his groove with Montreal, winning a Cup in his second season as coach.  Bowman would capture four more Cups in Montreal before leaving for Buffalo following the 1978-79 season.  Bowman would never win less than 45 games in his entire coaching career in Montreal.


General Manager: Sam Pollock

Known as the man who kept the Canadiens alive after Frank J. Selke's retirement, Pollock helped the Canadiens through the expansion years by making them stronger and competitive throughout.  Pollock's tenure as GM was one marked by Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup parade down St. Catharine's street in Montreal.  Pollock, who would hold the position from 1963 until 1978.  

Pollock was known for trying to lure the New York Islanders into trading their first overall pick Dennis Potvin to Montreal for a bunch of mature players.  Despite the tempting offer, the Islanders stuck with Potvin.  Pollock is known for drafting Guy Lafleur in the early 1970s.



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