Vote For Greatest Montreal Canadiens Nickname: Round Of 20

Matt Eichel@@mattyalloutSenior Writer INovember 15, 2008


Being it the 100th season in the history of the storied Montreal Canadiens franchise, it seems only fitting to vote on the best nicknames for those players who have made the team what it is today.  From "The Rocket" to "Big Bird", you decide who has the best nickname in Canadiens history, starting with the Top 20 names compiled.

To vote, simply reply to this article with your picks of the winners from each of the eight brackets listed below.  Voting will take place for the next two weeks and culminate on Saturday, November 29th with the results and then the Round of 10.  It will be a little bit odd since there are odd numbers, but we are trying to include as many nicknames as possible.

Now, the Round of 20 "Greatest Montreal Canadiens Nicknames" are as follows...


Bracket 1: "St. Patrick" (Patrick Roy) vs. "Jake The Snake" (Jacques Plante)

A first round clash of two of the all-time greatest netminders to ever play, not only in the Montreal net, but in any NHL net during their storied careers.  Jacques Plante's victory laden career included seven Vezina Trophies, one Hart Memorial Trophy, and six Stanley Cups championships, five of which were in a row with the Canadiens of the late 1950s.  

But it wasn't Plante's play that changed the face of goaltending forever, but his face that changed goaltending.  After being hit by a puck off a slapshot by New York Rangers forward Andy Bathgate, Plante received numerous stitches and told Canadiens head coach Toe Blake he wouldn't go back onto the ice without a face mask.  With the first face mask to be worn since Clint Benedict, Plante's mask would start to stick withgoalies who were, more and more, getting facial injuries.  Today, having a mask is required for all netminders.

Despite current New Jersey Devil's netminder Martin Brodeur only a few wins away from Roy's all-time wins record of 551, Roy's career defined goaltending as it is today.  His unique butterfly-style netminding re-wrote the book on how to be a netminder.  As a 20 year-old phenom, Roy led the upstart 1986 Canadiens to a Stanley Cup along with the Conn Smythe Trophy, the youngest to ever win it.

Roy would bring the Cup back to Montreal once again in the 1993 playoffs with yet another upstart Canadiens squad that won 10 overtime games to clinch its 24th Stanley Cup in team history.  Roy might have left Montreal in a temper tantrum, but his 33 will be raised to the rafters during the Canadiens centennial season.

Bracket 2: "The Pocket Rocket" (Henri Richard) vs "Little M" (Pete Mahovlich)

Both younger brothers of bigger stars, both Richard and Mahovlich had successful careers aside form their older siblings.

Henri Richard was one of the most consistent players in Canadiens history, always putting up good numbers and being a leader in the dressing room.  Named the Canadiens captain in 1971, towards the end of his career, Richard captained the Canadiens to both the 1971 and 1973 Stanley Cup championships.  

His 11 Stanley Cup rings is the most by any player in NHL history and tied with the NBA's greatest champion Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics for the most by a player in a respective league.  Henri's 16 hangs in the Bell Centre rafters.

Pete Mahvolich's career was a bit bumpy at first with the Detroit Red Wings, but a trade to the Canadiens helped him take off.  In 1970-71, Mahovlich had a breakout season with 61 points in 78 games.  He would take part in the 1972 Summit Series, scoring an important goal in Game 2 in Toronto against the Soviets.  

In nine seasons in Montreal, Mahovlich would top the 100 point plateau twice (1974-75, 1975-76) and capture four Stanley Cup rings of his own.

Bracket 3: "Captain Kirk" (Kirk Muller) vs. "AK-27" (Alex Kovalev)

One is a coach, one is a player, both were and are very good hockey players.

Kirk Muller played only four seasons in Montreal, but left a permanent mark in the fans hearts and memories.  Muller reached and tied a career high in points with 94 in the 1992-93 season (37 goals, 57 assists) and would go on to help captain the Canadiens to the 1993 Stanley Cup.  Muller's determined two-way play along with his scoring touch made him a pre-power forward era power forward.  Muller's numbers would drop off in later years, yet his career was never the same once he left Montreal.

Alex Kovalev's resurgence during the 2007-08 season was good enough to get him tops in points on the Canadiens with 84.  In just over three seasons with the Canadiens, Kovalev has been, more or less, a sleeping giant on offense, minus the 07-08 season.  Ridiculed for his inconsistent play before his breakout season in Montreal, Kovalev is an inspiring leader and point producer on a young Canadiens squad.

Bracket 4: "The Rocket" (Maurice Richard) vs "The Chicoutimi Cucumber" (Georges Vezina)

Both players were instrumental in laying the foundation of the Montreal Canadiens franchise in the early days.

Eight Stanley Cup rings may have meant nothing to Maurice Richard, but the thrill of playing the game he loved and the game that meant something to him did.  During his 18 year career, "The Rocket" defined hockey player.  Along with other greats such as Gordie Howe ("Mr. Hockey) and Ted Lindsay ("Terrible Ted"), Richard would be the first to score 50 goals in 50 games (1944-45) and still holds the Canadiens record for goals with 544.  "The Rocket" was more than a player, he was an icon to all of French Canada and a symbol of pride that still resonates in modern-day Quebec.

In fifteen full seasons, all with the Montreal Canadiens, Georges Vezina was the first big backstop for the young franchise.  Vezina's first few seasons were rough, but he found his stride in 1915-16 and never looked back.  Vezina led the upstart Canadiens to a Stanley Cup championship in 1915-16 and then again in 1923-24.  

During the 1925-26 season, Vezina took the ice despite having a fever of 105 degrees. He finished the first period and started the second before collapsing on the ice.  He later passed away due to tuberculosis.  His successer George Hainsworth was the first to win the trophy for best netminder, named the Vezina Trophy in 1927.

Bracket 5: "Big Bird" (Larry Robinson) vs "Big M" (Frank Mahovlich)

One intimidated opponent forwards while the other just flat out could score.  Either way, they were big men on a big team.

In seventeen seasons in Montreal, Larry Robinson set the standard for the modern-day prototypical defensemen.  His 6 foot, 5 inch frame was a hulking force on the Canadiens back-end and that is how he was dubbed "Big Bird".  Despite the monickerthe nickname gave Robinson, his play was fierce and unforgiving.  

Winning six Stanley Cups in Montreal, Robinson was part of the Canadiens "Big Three" on defense, along with Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe.  Robinson was a key cog in the Canadiens four-peat as Stanley Cup champions during the late 1970s.

Frank Mahovlich may have played twelve seasons with the rival Toronto Maple Leafs, but his most productive and successful seasons came when he donned the bleu, blanc, et rogue.  Coming over in a mid-season trade from the Detroit Red Wings, Mahovlich joined up with his younger brother Pete Mahovlich ("Little M").  

Despite not being able to match his career-high 48 goals                                            (1960-61), Mahovlich set career-highs in points with96 (1971-72) and assists with 55 (1972-73) and won 2 Stanley Cups while with the Canadiens.  After three full seasons of 80+ point seasons in Montreal, the "Big M" moved to the WHA.

Bracket 6: "The Flower" (Guy Lafleur) vs. "Captain K" (Saku Koivu)

Lafleur was the greatest all-time scorer in Canadiens history, scoring 1246 points in 926 games in a Canadiens uniform.  Although never matching "The Rocket's" record of 544 goals (only had 518 goals), Lafleur was one of the most captivating players in Canadiens history.  Reaching the 100 point plateau in six straight seasons (1974-75 to 1979-80), Lafleur would set a career high in goals with 60 in 1977-78 and in points with136 in 1976-77.  

"The Flower's" career garnered him with two Hart Trophies (1977, 1978), one Conn Smythe Trophy (1977), three Art Ross Trophies (1976, 1977, 1978), and five Stanley Cup championships.  Not bad for the first overall pick of 1971.

Saku Koivu is one of the greatest comeback stories in Canadiens history.  The older Koivu's battle with cancer is instrumental to his leadership as captain of the Canadiens. His determination, game in and game out, shows on the ice.  Koivu became the first European captain in franchise history on September 30, 1999 and has the second-longest tenure as captain to Jean Beliveau.  

Always coming back from what seemed to be career-ending injuries, including a devastating eye injury and cancer, Koivu's 591 points in 726 games as a Canadien stands in the middle of the pack all-time in team history.

Bracket 7: "Boom Boom" (Bernie Geoffrion) vs. "Ironman" (Doug Jarvis)

Winner of the Calder Trophy in 1952, Art Ross Trophies in 1955 and 1961, a Hart Trophy in 1961, and six Stanley Cup championships, Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion's talent was always hidden under the shadow of the great "Rocket".  Geoffrion would become the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games, but that fact is often overshadowed by the fact Richard had done it over 10 years prior.  

In fourteen seasons in Montreal, Geoffrion was always a force along with Richard.  His career high 95 points in 64 games during the 1960-61 campaign would later lead to a denial of a sixth straight Stanley Cup.  "Boom Boom" would score 759 points in 766 career games in Montreal.

One of the greatest feats in NHL history has to be Doug Jarvis' ironman streak of 964 consecutive games.  It all started in his rookie season during 1975-76.  From that season until the 1985-86 season, Jarvis would not miss one game during the 80-game NHL regular season with both the Canadiens and the Washington Capitals.  

In seven seasons in Montreal, Jarvis would be known more for his defensive, two-way play.  His career year would come in 1981-82 with the Canadiens, where he collected his only 20 goals season with 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 80 games.

Bracket 8: "Le Petit Viking" (Mats Naslund) vs. "The Roadrunner" (Yvan Cournoyer)

The best foreign players are always dubbed the best players not playing in the NHL.  In Mats Naslund's case, it was true.  In eight seasons in Montreal, Naslund settled in perfectly with the Canadiens, capturing a Stanley Cup in 1986.  His consistenly high scoring helped lead the Canadiens attack.  His career high 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) in 1985-86 is the last time a Canadiens player has reached the 100 point plateau in a season.  Naslund compiled 612 points in 617 career games in Montreal.  He would be honoured by winning the Lady Byng Award in 1988 as well as making three All-Star Game appearances.

Yvan Cournoyer's sixteen-year career with the Canadiens was one of consistency and of speed.  "The Roadrunner" became known for his blaring quick speed and deft quickness with the puck.  Scoring a career-high 47 goals in 1971-72, Cournoyer was one of a number of Canadiens to play for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series.  Cournoyer's play with the Canadiens earned him 10 Stanley Cups, second only to Henri Richard for most Stanley Cups.  He would also capture the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1973 with 79 points and captained the Canadiens to their final five Stanley Cup championships.

Bracket 9: "The Thieveing Giraffe" (Ken Dryden) vs. "Bionic Blueberry" (Mario Tremblay)

Known as one of the greatest netminders in Canadiens history, Ken Dryden was known for stealing games and playoff series.  Despite only manning the Canadiens net for eight seasons, Dryden was known as the lanky netminder, which led Phil Esposito during the 1971 playoffs to scream "You thieving giraffe!" to the young Dryden.  The Canadiens went on to win the series and then the Cup.  Dryden would capture five Vezina Trophies in his eight seasons and become the first player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy before winning the Calder Trophy.

Maybe more known for his coaching fiasco in Montreal than his playing days, Mario Tremblay was a steady consistent player during the 1970s and 1980s in Montreal.  During twelve seasons in Montreal, Tremblay would net 30 goals or more four times and had a career best season in 1981-82 with 73 points and 33 goals.  Tremblay would capture five Stanley Cups, the last in 1986 would be his last season in the NHL.

Bracket 10: "Knuckles" (Chris Nilan) vs. "The Senator" (Serge Savard)

Chris Nilan is known as the toughest customer in Canadiens history, with nine a bit seasons in Montreal.  During the 1980s, Nilan would lead the Canadiens in PIMs with over 200 every season from 1980-81 until 1987-88.  His play was physical and his fists and knuckles did the talking.  Thus his nickname was given -- "Knuckles".  Never since have the Canadiens had such a brute force to intimidate opponents.

Known as one of the "Big Three", Serge Savard became "The Senator" on the Canadiens blueline during the 1970s.  As a younger player, Savard took part in the 1972 Summit Series and was a forceful presence.  During his fifteen seasons in bleu, blanc, et rogue, Savard would be known for his physical play and playmaking abilities.  His career season came in 1974-75, when Savard reached the 20 goal plateau.  The only other time he would reach above 10 goals would be in 1969-70.  Savard would capture 8 Stanley Cups in his time in Montreal along with the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1969 and the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1979.



Now you're seen the selections and now it's time to vote.  Vote now.

Voting ends: Saturday, November 29th


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