The Montreal Canadiens are celebrating the centennial anniversary of the team this upcoming '08-'09 NHL season. Many ceremonies will surely take place at the Bell Centre this year; a motion picture detailing their history is scheduled to come out this winter. All the while, celebrating all 24 Stanley Cups the team has won, all the great players who have worn the journey, and the fans that have stood behind them since day one.
Well, for every Guy Lafleur, Henri Richard, and Jean Beliveau on the Stanley Cup, there are hundreds of lesser known players who have put their mark on this team. There surely will be dozens of best of all-time lists this year from experts and non-experts alike.
I would like to share with you some of the men who have helped shape this greatest of hockey teams.
With Brett Favre about to enter the tail-end of his career with the New York Jets, I felt i should write about a Canadiens player who helped the team near the conclusion of his career, even though he will forever be remembered as a member of the hated Toronto Maple Leafs.
Contemplating retirement after an unproductive season with the Buffalo Sabres, Doug Gilmour got a call from Habs management in the summer of 2001, and put off the golf links for one last hurrah in the Mecca of hockey.
While not having the same offensive punch he did as a younger player, Gilmour provided much needed veteran leadership and tenacity to a young team which had missed the playoffs the previous three seasons.
With a 16-point improvement over the previous season, helping Montreal make the playoffs, Gilmour led the charge as they beat the Bruins in a spirited series, and then went on to lose a hotly debated match-up against eventual Stanley Cup finalists Hurricanes. Leading the team in play-off scoring, the old guy proved that he could still be a force to be a reckoned with.
The following season proved to be less successful, as the team floundered and Gilmour saw less playing time in favour of younger players. With rumors floating about an impending retirement, Andre Savard traded his veteran leader back home to the Leafs.
However before making his final mark, he was injured in his first game back on an innocent looking collision. Retiring prior to the training camp, Gilmour left behind the game he loved, only to return to Toronto in 2006, culminating in his hiring as assistant coach to the Marlies for the upcoming 2008-09 season.
Jordan, Montana, and Rice are a few of the players who had playing time with other teams before bowing out, Doug Gilmour just happens to be one who left an indellible mark on his final significant stop, proving that greatness never truly dies.