The 25 Greatest Players In Montreal Canadiens' History
The Montreal Canadiens have been around longer than the NHL. The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley cups the most in NHL history. Their closest rival the Toronto Maple Leafs organization has won 11 cups, as well as one under the name of the Toronto Arenas and one as the Toronto St Pats for a total of 13.
This long successful history leads to a long storied list of players to be considered as the greatest Montreal Canadiens of all time. This is my attempt to rank the top 25 players who had the best careers for Les Glorieux.
Special thanks to ourhistory.canadiens.com for their Montreal Canadien-centric statistics.
25. Guy Lapointe, D, 1968-82
6' 185 lbs
Regular Season GP 777 G 166 A 406 PTS 570
Playoffs GP 112 G 25 A 43 PTS 68
Guy Lapointe was the middle man in Montreal's "big three" defenceman of the 1970's. Inspired by team icons like Doug Harvey and JC Tremblay; Lapointe was primarily an offensive defenceman with the Canadiens.
He had a great shot from point and was dangerous on the power play. The smooth skater still holds the team record for most regular season goals by a defenceman with 28. He managed to have four near point a game seasons in the heart of his career.
Lapointe's skating and skill helped the Canadiens to six Stanley cups in his tenure there. Lapointe was one of the great offensive defenceman in an era of offensive defenceman and one of the great Montreal Canadien power play quarterbacks of all time.
24. Jacques Lemaire, C/RW/LW, 1967-79
5'11" 180 lbs
Regular Season GP 853 G 366 A 469 PTS 835
Playoffs GP 145 G 61 A 78 PTS 139
Jacques Lemaire had a 12 year career in Montreal during which he won eight Stanley Cups including four in a row in his last four seasons in the league from 1975-76 until 1978-79. He broke in with the Canadiens just as the NHL was adding six new franchises 1967-68.He never scored fewer than 20 goals in any of his 12 NHL seasons.
Lemaire became known as a playmaking center with one of the hardest most accurate slap-shots in the league. He started in Montreal though as a checking winger trying to find a job.
Still he managed a point a game as a rookie in the playoffs as the Canadiens with a veteran line-up featuring Jean Beliveau, Ralph Backstrom, Gilles Tremblay, Dick Duff, Henri Richard, Ted Harris and Claude Provost won a cup in his first season. His thirteen points that playoff were second on the team only to another youngster the 23 year old Yvan Cournoyer.
Lemaire gained fame as the offensive center between sniper Steve Shutt and Guy Lafleur. He was great in the face-off circle and became known as the defensively responsible member of the big scoring line in Montreal.
At age 32 he had his best offensive season in the league with 97 points as the Habs cruised to another cup in 1977-78.
His career ended early in Montreal when botched salary negotiations with fledgling GM Irving Grundman resulted in Lemaire leaving the NHL to play and coach in Switzerland.
Jacques Lemaire was that rare combination of offensive skill and defensive awareness that made him one of the greatest players in Montreal Canadiens history.
23. Claude Provost, RW, 1955-70
5' 9" 175 lbs
Regular Season GP 1005 G 254 A 335 PTS 589
Playoffs GP 126 G 25 A 38 PTS 63
Claude Provost spent his exclusive fifteen year career with the Montreal Canadiens as a defensive specialist. His biggest claim to fame was his ability to shut-down Chicago superstar Bobby Hull without fouling. Hull showed nothing but respect for Provost who seemed to have a knack for getting to a spot on the ice ahead of the puck and breaking up a play just as the puck arrived.
The ungainly Provost had an awkward looking wide stance as he skated and yet he seemed to get everywhere on time. The lack of blazing speed forced Provost to become a student of the game. His analytical approach allowed him to check the games great stars throughout the fifties and sixties and render them ineffective.
Provost played a key role on nine Stanley Cup champion teams in Montreal including five in a row at the start of his career.
Claude Provost popularized the idea of the defensive forward in Montreal making it a respected role. His skill at it explained the longevity of his career on a Montreal team laden with more talented players. There was no one on those teams that worked harder than Claude Provost.
22. Patrick Roy, G, 1984-96
6' 175 lbs
Regular season GP551 W 289 L 199 T 66 SO 29 GAA 2.78 SVP .908
Playoffs GP 144 W 70 L 42 SO 5 GAA 2.46 SVP .914
Patrick Roy played what amounted to ten and a half seasons of hockey in Montreal. In that time he won 4 William M. Jennings trophies as the goalie on the team with the fewest goals against it in the league, three Vezina trophies as the leagues best goalie and two Conn Smythe trophies as the playoff MVP for the two Stanley Cups he won in Montreal.
He lead the league four times in save percentage with Montreal. The first time he lead the league with a .900 save percentage in 1987-88 which just shows how much the NHL has changed since the high scoring 80's.
Patrick also had the lowest GAA twice in his time in Montreal with 2.47 in 1988/89 and 2.36 during the 1991-92 season.
Not Joe Malone, C/LW, 1910-24
Joe Malone was one of the greatest players in hockey history and certainly one of the best from first half of the 20th century. Malone still holds the record for most goals in one game, seven.
Malone played in rover era of hockey and at a time where players played 60 minutes barring injury.
Malone was a Quebec Bulldog most of his career but when the NHA was dissolved and the NHL formed Malone was parcelled out to the Montreal Canadiens. They moved Malone to left wing to play on a line with other Canadiens' greats Eduoard "Newsy" Lalonde and Didier Pitre. The change from center didn't hurt him. He scored five goals in his first game in the new league and followed up with a hat trick. By the end of the season he had scored 44 goals in 20 games, a record that even Gretzky couldn't touch.
He was a member of the Canadiens team that won the cup in 1924 though he never played in the playoffs that year. Malone had one of the greatest seasons in hockey history as a Montreal Canadien. he won a scoring championship as a Canadien. He was however really a career Quebec Bulldog and with only four seasons with Les Habitants Malone can't be one of the greatest 25 Montreal Canadiens of all time.
21. Yvan Cournoyer, RW, 1963–79
Regular season GP 968 G 428 A 435 PTS 863
Playoffs GP 147 G 64 A 63 PTS 127
Yvan Cournoyer played in 16 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens finishing as captain. He was one of the fastest players in the league for most of that time. He also had a slapshot that hobbled defenceman when it hit them.
He managed to score over 24 goals in 12 consecutive seasons and over forty goals four times.
Cournoyer excelled in the playoffs and in international competition. His speed allowed him to compete with anyone at any level. He won ten Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. His 15 goals in 17 games in the 1972-73 playoffs were a record at the time and earned him a Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
Playing against the Russians in the 1972 series he earned the nickname "The Train" from the Russian players because once he got going he couldn't be stopped. In a tournament where the Canadian team often suffered in a comparison of skating speed with the Russians, Cournoyer was never out matched or out-skated.
20. Elmer Lach, C, 1940-54
5' 9" 172 lbs
Regular season GP 664 G 215 A 408 PTS 623
Playoffs GP 74 G 19 A 45 PTS 64
Lach was the playmaking center and defensive conscience of Montreals' 'Punch' line.
For a brief period Elmer Lach was the NHL leader in total points until he was overtaken by linemate Maurice "The Rocket" Richard.
The year Rocket Richard scored fifty goals in fifty games and surpassed Joe Malones record for most goals in a season Lach had 80 points and 54 assists to lead the league and won the Hart trophy as league MVP.
Lach struggled with injuries his whole career but when he managed to play a full season in 1947-48 he had 61 points in 60 games. His 30 goals that year were a career best surpassing even his numbers during the war years and he won the first Art Ross trophy as the leagues point leader.
Lach won three Stanley Cups in Montreal with the Canadiens. He still holds the record for most assists in a game by a Canadien with six.
If Elmer had played in an era when a MVP award was given out in the playoffs he might have earned one in 1944 or 46 when he managed in 12 and then 17 points in 9 playoff games each of those years. He lead the team in playoff scoring in 1946.
19. Georges Vézina, G, 1910-25
5' 6 " 185 lbs
Regular Season GP 328 W 173 L 146 T 6 SO 15 GAA 3.42
Playoffs GP 39 W 23 L 15 T 1 SO 5 GAA 3.08
George Vezina was picked up by the Canadiens in 1910 when he shut-out the Canadiens in and Exhibition game. The tiny Vezina played six seasons with them before the NHL was even formed.
Vezina played in an era before players were allowed to drop to the ice to stop a puck. He recorded the first shut-out in NHL history and won two cups with the Canadiens. He played in five Stanley Cup finals for Montreal. He played all his professional games consecutively without a break or substitution in his 16 years with Les Habitants.
Seven times in his career Vezina lead the league in goals against average.
Vezina collapsed in his last NHL game. He died in 1926 at the age of 38 of tuberculosis. The Vezina trophy was created to honour him and was given out at the time to the goaltender who lead the league in goals against average. Since 1981-82 the trophy has been given to the goalie voted as the best in the league by the NHL general managers.
18. Hector Blake, LW, 1934-48
5' 10" 165 lbs
Regular season GP 578 G 235 A 292 PTS 527
Playoffs GP 58 G 25 A 37 PTS 62
Blake played 13 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens reaching the playoffs ten times. He was the hard-nosed left winger on the legendary "Punch" line in Montreal with Elmer Lach And Maurice "the Rocket" Richard.
Toe won the NHL scoring title in the 1938-39 season. He won the Hart trophy the same year. He was a sniper who also could fight and he insulated the "Rocket" from the attentions of other teams goons.
Despite his reputation as the toughest player on the Canadiens Blake won the Lady Byng trophy for the 1945-46 season as the "player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."
Blake was credited with two cup winning goals in 1944 and 1946 the two Stanley Cup winning teams he was on. A badly broken leg ended his career in 1948 and broke up what was perhaps the greatest line in Montreal Canadiens history
17. Bill Durnan, G, 1943-50
6' 190 lbs
Regular season GP 383 W 208 L 112 T 62 SO 34 GAA 2.36
Playoffs GP 45 W 27 L 18 SO 2 GAA 2.07
Durnan played only seven seasons for the Montreal Canadiens and yet he won the Vezina trophy every one of those years except in 1947-48 when he lost out to "Turk" Broda of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The ambidextrous Durnan wore two modified catching gloves and no blocker and would switch his stick from hand to hand as the situation demanded. He was an excellent fast ball pitcher as well and his glove work was the best in the league.
Durnan won two Stanley Cups in Montreal. He was the last NHL goalie to post four consecutive shut-outs.
16. Aurèle Joliat, LW, 1922-38
5'7" 136 lbs
Regular season GP 655 G 270 A 190 PTS 460
Playoffs GP 54 G 14 A 19 PTS 33
The tiny Joliat was also called the 'Little Giant". Aurel was famed as the linemate of Howie Morenz ,but he was a talented player in his own right. He was speedy and clever with the puck and almost to hit. He won three Stanley cups in Montreal. He won the Hart trophy in 1933-34 as the leagues most valuable player.
15. George Hainsworth, G, 1926-33
5' 6" 150 lbs
Regular season GP 318 W 167 L 97 T 54 SO 75 GAA 1.77
Playoffs GP 31 W 13 L 13 T 5 SO 6 GAA 1.78
Hainsworth replaced the legendary Vezina in nets and won the the three first Vezina trophies as the goalie with the best goals against average in the league.
Hainsworth lead the Canadiens to back to back Stanley Cup championships in 1930 and 1931. The next season, his last in Montreal, he was made team captain.
George held the league record for most shut-outs in a career until Terry Sawchuk passed him. He still holds the record for most shut-outs in a season with an incredible 22 in a 44 game season. He is third on the team in career playoff shut-outs with six behind Dryden and Plante.
Hainsworth also holds the record for the longest shut-out streak in the playoffs of 270 minutes and 8 seconds on the way to hist first Stanley Cup win in 1931.
14. Serge Savard, D, 1966-81
6' 3" 205 lbs
Regular season GP 917 G 91 A 312 PTS 403
Playoffs GP 123 G 19 A 49 PTS 68
Serge Savard was the senior member of the big three defenceman in Montreal through the seventies, along with Larry Robinson and Guy Lapointe. He was a key member of team that while being one of the best offensive teams in history was also one of the best defensive teams of all time.
Savard excelled early in Montreal. In his first full season the Canadiens finished first overall. In the playoffs he managed 4 goals and ten points in fourteen games as the Canadiens won the cup. His four goals were one shy of the record for goals by a defenceman in the playoffs and combined with his defensive play earned him the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP for the playoffs.
Savard suffered a devastating broken leg in 1970 and then broke the same leg the next year missing the Canadiens Stanley cup run that year.
Savard was never the speedy offensive force that he'd threatened to be early on, after the two injuries. he still managed a 20 goal 60 point season in 1974-75 but that was a bit of an aberration. Savard was still clever with puck. He became famed for his Savardian Spinerama where he'd take the puck in a 360 degree spin to shake off forecheckers. He was a solid defensive defenceman in Montreal.
Savard played a key role on the 1972 Canadian National team that beat the Soviets that year.
Serge Savard was a member of 8 Stanley cup winning teams and one of the greatest of all the Montreal Canadiens defenceman.
13. Bernie Geoffrion, RW, 1950-68
5' 9" 170 lbs
Regular season GP 766 G 371 A 388 PTS 759
Playoffs GP 127 G 56 A 59 PTS 115
Bernie Geoffrion is credited with perfecting and popularizing the slap-shot in the NHL.
He lead the Canadiens in scoring with 30 goals in his rookie season and won the Calder trophy as the leagues best rookie that year. Through no fault of his own Geoffrion seemed to find himself Roger Maris- like rivalry with Canadiens hero Rocket Richard. He won his first Art Ross trophy in 1954-55, but in doing it he passed the Rocket who had been suspended by the league for a stick swinging incident. The fans in Montreal never really seemed to forgive Boom Boom for passing their idol.
Geoffrion was a key member of the Montreal teams that won an unequaled five Stanley cups in a row from 1955-60. He also won a cup in Montreal in 1953.
During the 1960-61 season Frank Mahovlich, then with the Maple Leafs, was threatening to break Rocket Richard's record of 50 goals in a season. Geoffrion got in the race and with an amazing end of season burst finished with 50 goals and 95 points in 64 games. He passed a faltering Mahovlich and won the Art Ross trophy as he lead the league in points and the Hart trophy as the league's most valuable player. Tying the Rocket's record didn't earn him the opprobrium that Maris suffered for breaking Babe Ruth's single season home run record, but he still never seemed to get the love from the Montreal fans that the Rocket had earned.
He never approached 50 goals again managing 23,23 and 21 in his last three years in Montreal.
Still Geoffrion was the second man ever to score 50 goals in an NHL season and one of the all time Montreal Canadien greats.
12. Édouard Lalonde, C, 1904-27
5' 9" 168 lbs
Regular season GP 205 G 272 A 57 PTS 329
Playoffs GP 18 G 20 A 4 PTS 24
At the turn of the 20th century Newsy Lalonde was "the" big Montreal Canadien star. Lalonde scored the first ever Montreal Canadien goal in 1909. He starred on the first ever Stanley Cup winning Canadien team in 1916 when the Canadiens defeated the Portland Rosebuds three games to two.
Newsy won two NHL scoring titles and was one of the dominant goal scorers of his era. Yet he saw himself as more of a playmaker with deceptive speed. The player he always likened himself to was the Leafs Teeder Kennedy.
Lalonde was the Montreal Canadiens first great star.
11. Bob Gainey, RW, 1973-89
6' 2 " 190 lbs
Regular season GP 1160 G 239 A 263 PTS 502
Playoffs GP 182 G 25 A 48 PTS 73
For 16 years Bob Gainey was the best defensive forward in hockey. The Montreal Canadiens agitated for and finally had established the Frank J. Selke trophy for the 1977-78 season. It is awarded to the NHL forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game. Bob Gainey won it the first four times it was awarded.
Gainey also won the Conn Smythe trophy in 1978-79 as the Canadiens won their fourth cup in a row. Gainey managed to augment his defensive game with a point a game that playoff year. he won five cups in Montreal.
Gainey's speed helped make him a relentless checker and punishing hitter. Gainey was notorious for changing the flow of the game by stealing the puck and counter attacking. His stone hands often let him down near the net but the speed let him generate opportunities and kept the oppositions scoring line running around in their own zone.
10. Richard Moore, LW, 1951-68
5' 10" 185 lbs
Regular season GP 654 G 254 A 340 PTS 594
Playoffs GP 113 G 38 A 56 PTS 94
In a league where players pride themselves on their stoicism Dickie Moore was famed for his pain tolerance. He played with a broken wrist for three months on the way to winning his first of two consecutive scoring titles in 1958 and he still managed 36 goals and 84 points. The following year he won again with 41 goals and a record 96 points. The 96 points was the highest total for one season until 1967 and Stan Mikita managed 97 points in the new 12 team NHL.
Dickie Moore's two Art Ross trophies were bookended by Gordie Howe in 1957 and Bobby Hull in 1960.
Moore won six cups including five in a row on what is often called the greatest NHL team of all-time. The Rocket called him the best left winger he'd ever played with.
9. Henri Richard, C, 1955-75
5' 7" 160 lbs
Regular season GP 1259 G 358 A 688 PTS 1046
Playoffs GP 180 G 49 A 80 PTS 129
Henri Richard was smaller than big brother Maurice but no less fiery. The Rocket was a much better goal scorer than his much younger brother but in every other aspect of the game he was inferior. Henri as a center was obviously better in the face-off circle. He was a faster skater, better stick handler, and more responsible defensively.
Richard broke in to the league as the Canadiens were beginning their five in a row Stanley cup winning streak. By the end of his twenty years he had been on 11 Stanley Cup winning teams.
Henri lead the league twice in assists. As he aged he evolved into a checking center and team leader. He'd combine speed with endurance and outlast most other NHL players.
He scored two cup winning goals. His fiery temper lead him to clash with rookie coach Al MacNeil during the miraculous 1971 Stanley Cup run.
Henri Richard was one of the most versatile and enduring players in NHL history.
8. Ken Dryden, G, 1970-73, 1974-79
6' 4 " 207 lbs
Regular Season GP 397 W 258 L 57 T 74 SO 46 GAA 2.24
Playoffs GP 112 W 80 L 32 SO 10 GAA 2.40
Dryden only played eight seasons in the NHL and the first was a six game nub. Despite that he won six Stanley Cups, five Vezina trophies, a Calder trophy and a Conn Smythe trophy all as a Montreal Canadien.
The year he took off in a salary dispute and articled with Ralph Nader, 1973-74, the Canadiens lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Rangers.
Dryden won the Conn Smythe trophy in his first season after playing only six regular season games. He beat the Bobby Orr lead Boston Bruins and Bobby Hull and the Chicago Blackhawks in two unbelievable seven game series.
Dryden had the third most career wins as a Canadien goalie with 258. He played over 150 fewer regular season games than career leaders Plante and Roy who had 314 and 289 wins respectively. He's the career leader with 80 playoff wins and is tied with Plante with 10 playoff shut-outs.
The big man was a winner and one of the greatest of the many great Montreal Canadien goalies.
Nor Frank Mahovlich, LW, 1970-74
6'1" 205 lbs
Regular season GP 263 G 129 A 181 PTS 310
Playoffs GP 49 G 27 A 31 PTS 58
Frank Mahovlich is one of the all-time hockey greats. He's one of the best left wingers in NHL history. He also has the distinction of being a player who had a great run with three different original six teams: the Toronto Maple Leafs, The Detroit Red Wings, and the Montreal Canadiens.
Frank came over to the Canadiens in the middle of 1970-71 season in a deal for young sniper Mickey Redmond and veteran Bill Collins. He was a point a game player that season as he helped Montreal make their way into the playoffs. He managed a then record 27 points in the playoffs helping the Dryden lead Canadiens to a Stanley cup. The 27 points is still a Montreal Canadiens playoff point record.
He was over a point a game player in his four season stay in Montreal. He managed 23 points in 17 games in the playoffs in 1974 and helped the Canadiens to their second cup while he was there.
Mahovlich's 27 playoff goals place him 15th on the all-time Montreal Canadien playoff goal scoring list.
His short time in Montreal prevents him from being one of the greatest Canadiens of all time. His time there was however, extraordinary. If Frank Mahovlich had played his entire career in Montreal he could easily have been one of the top five habitants of all time.
7. Howie Morenz, C, 1923–37
5' 9" 165 lbs
Regular season- GP 460 G 257 A 160 PTS 417
Playoffs- GP 45 G 21 A 12 PTS 33
Morenz had 11 good years in Montreal where he won three Stanley Cups. He won his first cup in 1924 with 7 goals and 10 points in six games. When he died in 1937 he held the league record with 472 career points.
Morenz was quick able to attain full speed in a very few strides. He lead the league in scoring twice and was MVP three times. He lead his Canadiens in scoring seven times.
He was voted the best hockey player of the first half of the twentieth century by the Canadian Press.
6. Guy Lafleur, RW, 1971–84, 1988-91
6' 185 lbs
Regular season GP 962 G 518 A 728 PTS 1246
Playoffs GP 124 G 57 A 76 PTS 133
Lafleur has the most career points of any Montreal Canadien in history. He leads in assists and is second only to Rocket Richard in career goals. Lafleur scored at least 50 goals six years in a row, once reaching 60. He has the six best offensive seasons in Montreal Canadien's history ranging from 117 to 136 points.
He won two Hart trophies as the leagues MVP, three Art Ross Trophies as the leagues leading scorer and one Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP in the playoffs.
He was one of the fastest players in the league through the seventies and had a huge shot. He was a dangerous playmaker.
Lafleur was definitely one of the greatest Montreal Canadiens of all time.
5. Larry Robinson, D, 1971-92
6' 3" 220 lbs
Regular season GP 1202 G 197 A 686 PTS 883
Playoffs GP 203 G 25 A 109 PTS 134
Robinson started his career in Montreal as a big awkward looking defenceman. By his third season though he had his legs under him and was a punishing hitter and an offensive juggernaut. Called on to fight ,especially against Flyers and the Big Bad Bruins Robinson filled that role splendidly as well.
He became the best of Montreal's big three on defense. His size and long arms and legs made him impossible to get around. The leverage they afforded him assured he would punish players who tried to get around him.
The big man was also quick to counter attack often jumping up into an end to end rush when he picked up the puck from an attacker. He won the James Norris trophy when he managed 85 points and 19 goals in 1976-77. He won a second Norris trophy in 1979-80 when he also managed more than a point a game. Robinson won the Conn Smythe in 1978 when he had 21 points in 15 playoff games. He was still contributing offensively in the playoffs ten years later with 20 points in 17 games in that failed cup run.
Larry was a great defenceman, the fourth leader in career assists in Montreal Canadiens history and one of the toughest players ever to wear the bleu, blanc et rouge.
Robinson won six cups and played 17 straight years in the playoffs with the Canadiens. Robinson has the leading career regular season and playoff point totals for a Montreal Canadiens defenceman.
4. Jacques Plante, G, 1952-75
6' 175 lbs
Regular season GP 556 W 314 L133 T 107 SO 57 GAA 2.23
Playoffs GP 90 W 59 L 28 SO 10 GAA 2.13
Jacques Plante was the greatest goalie in Montreal Canadiens history. He won six Vezina's and a Hart trophy in Montreal to go with his six Stanley Cups in Montreal.
Plante is still the Montreal Canadiens leader in career games played and wins. He's second only to George Hainsworth in career shut-outs. He is third to Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy in playoff wins in Montreal. He was tied with Dryden with 10 playoff shut-outs.
He was one of the quickest goalies of his era with a snake-like glove hand and feet to match.
During his first five seasons with the Canadiens he managed over a .920 save percentage.
Ahead of his time he designed, introduced and eventually popularized the mask. Plante was one of the first goalies to venture out of his net to corral pucks for his defenceman.
Plante only lasted ten seasons in Montreal but because of his sharp mind and fitness level managed to play in the NHL until age 44.
3. Doug Harvey, D, 1947-61
5' 11" 190lbs
Regular season GP 890 G 76 A 371 PTS 447
Playoffs GP 123 G 8 A 59 PTS 67
Harvey's name comes up when the greatest defencemen in NHL history are discussed. While with the Canadiens he won six James Norris trophies as the best defenceman in the league.
He was an offensive defenceman before there was such a thing.
Harvey was the power play quarterback in a line-up that featured Jean Beliveau, Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, Bert Olmstead and Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion on the other point. That power play was so dominant an NHL rule was changed for them. A penalized player used to have to sit the entire two minutes whether the opposing team scored or not. During the summer of 1956 NHL owners voted to allow the penalized player out of the penalty box once his team was scored on. This rule was drawn up specifically to thwart that dominant habs power platy.
Doug was almost impossible to beat in his own zone and as soon as he had the puck it was moving back up the ice in a counter attack.
Serge Savard says he learned his famous spinerama watching Harvey get away from fore-checkers with the puck.
He was a great skater but more renowned for his first pass out of the zone. He was notorious for drawing forecheckers in and then moving the puck out of his zone to a variety of forwards. Often his style of play was seen as lazy by coaches. The tendency to wait till the last moment to move the puck infuriated more than one.
Harvey was one of the few NHL players who joined Ted Lindsay in his aborted attempt to start an NHL players association and was quite possibly traded to the Rangers in 1961 as a result.
He won six Stanley Cups in Montreal including the famous five in a row. He was the third leading scoring defenceman in Canadien's history behind only Robinson and Lapointe. His style of play allowed him a long career even after his skating had slowed.
2. Jean Beliveau, C, 1950-71
6'3" 205 lbs
Regular season- GP 1125 G 507 A 712 PTS 1219
playoffs - GP 162 G 79 A 97 PTS 176
Beliveau was a big fluid skating center who stick handled like a man half his size. Beliveau used his size to advantage but was never a dirty player.
Jean won the scoring title and the Hart trophy in his third full season in the league. He won the Hart for a second time in 1963-64. Beliveau won ten Stanley cups with the Canadiens, five as captain. He won the first Conn Smythe trophy with his performance in the 1965 Stanley cup run.
Beliveau is considered one of the best play makers of all-time. He has the second most career regular season points in Canadien history. He's also third in goal scoring behind Richard and Lafleur. He's only the third Montreal Canadien to score 500 goals in his career as a Canadien. He has the most points and has scored the most goals in Montreal Canadiens playoff history.
Perhaps the best captain in Montreal Canadien's history I see Beliveau as the second greatest player in that history as well.
1. Maurice Richard, RW, 1942-60
5' 10" 180 lbs
Regular season GP 978 G 544 A 421 PTS 965
Playoffs GP 133 G 82 A 44 PTS 126
"Rocket" Richard was the Babe Ruth of hockey. He was the first to score 50 goals in a season and he did it in fifty games. He was the first to score 500 goals in a career. His 544 goals record in a career was equivalent to Ruth's 714 home runs, until he was passed in 1963 by Gordie Howe.
Richards 544 regular season goals and 82 playoff goals are still Montreal records. Richard had a good shot both forehand and backhand. He was quick, especially from the blueline in. The single greatest quality he possessed was his intensity. He would not be denied. Whatever the obstacle "The Rocket" would blast his way through it to the net.
Richard was the definitive goal scorer and his name now fittingly adorns the trophy for the leagues regular season goal scoring leader. He lead the league himself in goal scoring five times though he never lead the league in points.
The fiery Richard only ever won the Hart trophy as the leagues most valuable player once, in 1946-47.
Richard won eight Stanley cups in Montreal and was captain for four of them. He was part of the five cup dynasty team that won cups from 1955 to 1960. He was a member of one of the greatest lines of all time early in his career with Toe Blake and Elmer Lach, the 'Punch" line. He was also a member with Beliveau, Olmstead, Harvey and Geoffrion on one of the greatest power plays of all time.
His six overtime winners in the playoffs are second only to Joe Sakic's eight.
Maurice Richard was one of the greatest NHL players of all time. He is the greatest Montreal Canadien of all time.