Family Ties: The Montreal Canadiens Edition

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Family Ties: The Montreal Canadiens Edition

Perhaps the Habs just can't help it. They're the oldest team in the league and the most successful.

Les Glorieux.

Le Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

Generations of little boys have dreamed of someday pulling on that jersey and stepping onto the ice.

And some families have made playing for the Canadiens a tradition.

The Morenz–Geoffrion clan have gone even a step beyond that. Ready for this one?

Canadiens tough guy Billy Coutu's sister-in-law was the mother of Howie Morenz's wife, Mary. Howie and Mary's daughter Marlene married Habs star and future Hall of Famer Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion.

Bernie and Marlene are the parents of Danny, who spent one season with the Habs. Danny’s son Blake is currently playing for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was drafted by the Nashville Predators. If Blake plays in the NHL, he'll be the fourth generation of the Morenz-Geoffrion family to play professional hockey.  Whether or not he plays for the Canadiens remains to be seen.

The Canadiens acknowledged the family relationship in a unique way during the retirement ceremony for Geoffrion's number. Morenz’s banner was lowered halfway to the ice and Geoffrion’s raised to meet it. The two banners were then raised the rest of the way together.

Without further ado, here are the rest of the family ties (the years played with the Canadiens are in parenthesis):

 

The Brothers

Georges (1910-1927) and Pierre Vezina (1911-1912) are generally accepted as the first siblings to play for the Canadiens.  However, because it was the early wild days of the NHA, a lot of records are unclear or missing altogether. It is a certainty that Pierre was brought along to practice with the team; whether it was to prevent Georges from jumping to the PCHA or just a contract stipulation by Georges is unclear. There is a single reference to Pierre playing one game, but the entire time he was practising with the Canadiens he was still the property of Club de Hockey de Chicoutimi and was never signed to a contract with the Canadiens. First or not? I’ll let you decide.

Sprague (1921-25) and Odie (1918-25) Cleghorn won a Stanley Cup together in 1924 and 1925. Sprague was one of the most feared defenseman of his time, while Odie provided the offense. Close to the end, they died within days of each other.

Billy (1921-27) and Bobby (1923-24) Boucher only played one season together, but it was enough to get their names engraved on Lord Stanley's Cup.

Aurèle (1922-38) and René (one game, 1924-25) Joliat got to play just one professional game together.

Pit (1925-26 partial; 1926-1938) and Hec (1925-26) Lépine got to play on the same line during the 1925-26 season.

Georges (1928-41) and Sylvio (1923-36) Mantha demonstrated excellent versatility: they both played defense and right wing.

Jean (1935-36) and Conrad (1935-36) Bourcier will only be recognised by the most die-hard fans: Conrad only played six games and big brother Jean played nine.

Ken (1940-42; 1945-50) and Terry (1941-43) Reardon got to play together in 1941-42.

Maurice (1942-60) and Henri (1955-1975) Richard are arguably the most famous brothers in hockey, and the most successful Habs family, with 19 championship seasons between them.

Guy (1954-55; 1956-57), Roland (1952-53) and Bobby (1960-70) Rousseau all had success in the minor leagues, but only Bobby managed to consistently crack the Habs' lineup.

Keith (1961-62; 1964-65) and Bill (1962-63) McCreary Sr. just missed playing together.

Pete (1969-1978) and Frank (1970-1974) Mahovlich were yet another set of brothers to get their names on the Stanley Cup together, doing it in 1971 and 1973.

Larry (1972-91) and Moe Robinson (one game, 1979-80) got to play just one game together with the Habs.

Claude (1983-90) and Jocelyn (1988-90) Lemieux were both considered pests – loved by the fans, hated by the opposition.

Stephan (1988-94) and Patrick (1990-91) Lebeau were both successful in the AHL and QMJHL, but only Stephan had much success in the NHL.

Pierre (1994-97) and Sylvain (1990-92) Turgeon were two of the most popular French-speaking players in the 1990s.

Sergei (2007-present) and Andrei (2005-present) Kostitsyn are the Habs' current brother act.

 

Fathers and Sons

Emile (1941-1956) and Pierre (1970-78) Bouchard have a combined nine championships with Montreal.

Bernie “Boom Boom” (1950-64) and Danny (1979-80) Geoffrion had a slightly unusual situation: Danny's one season with the Habs was the one season Bernie was the coach (though Bernie had to resign half-way through the season due to health problems).

 

Grandfather and Grandson

Howie Morenz (1923-1934; 1936-37) and Danny Geoffrion (see above) – the complete story is above.

 

Uncles and Nephews

Larry Hillman (1968-69) and Brian Savage (1993-2002) are known for some pretty unique things: Larry is one of the most travelled players in league history and Brian scored the Canadiens’ first hat trick at the Bell Centre.

Christian (1968-70) and Sebastien (1995-98) Bordeleau were the only two members of the Bordeleau family to make the jump from the Canadiens' development system to the team.

 

In-laws

Howie Morenz (see above) and Billy Coutu (1916-20; 1921-26) have a family relationship that has created four generations of hockey players (see above).

Mark Napier (1978-85) and Pat Hughes (1977-79) are brothers-in-law who won two Cups together: one with Montreal and one with Edmonton.

Shayne Corson (1986-92; 1996-2000) and Darcy Tucker (1995-98) played together twice: first for the Canadiens and then the Leafs.

 

Runners-up

They came close, but it never quite happened for John Ferguson Sr. and son John Jr., who was drafted by the Canadiens, but never played a game for Montreal.

The reverse was true for Alain and Jean-Philippe Cote: Alain was drafted and never played for the Habs, while son Jean-Philippe made his Montreal debut in 2005.

 

There have been seventeen sets of brothers, two father/son combinations, one grandfather/grandson set, two uncle/nephew sets, and three sets of in-laws.

Remember, this is not a comprehensive list. Some other family connections are currently unconfirmed and therefore are not included on this list. There are family ties yet to be discovered and family ties yet to happen.

Now, if I could just get Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" out of my head...

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