Habs Monday Noon Number: No. 9

Maurice Richard was the ninth, and last player to wear No. 9 for the Montreal Canadiens. Did you know the Habs had their sights/hands on two other future HOFers who wore that number in the mid '40's?? (Photo: FineArtAmerica.com)

When Montreal Canadiens fans, and for that matter many hockey fans, think of the number nine, one name comes to mind..Maurice "Rocket" Richard.

Only eight players in Canadiens history wore No. 9, prior to Richard. Charlie Sands was the last to wear it before The Rocket, and still had it while Richard wore No. 15 in his rookie season. No other player dressed in the No. 9 sweater after Richard's retirement in 1960. It was retired a year later.

Did you know, the Canadiens also had a chance to have two other famous Number 9s in their possession at the same time as they had The Rocket?! 

The Habs were a day away from stealing away Gordie Howe from the Detroit Red Wings, but Frank Selke gave Red Wings boss Jack Adams a heads up. Details can be found in this feature from Canadiens.com

Prior to that, the Canadiens also had a young prospect in their system by the name of Ted Kennedy.

Unfortunately, the Ontario native was uncomfortable playing for the Habs system in Quebec and was not willing to play pro in Montreal.  The Canadiens would trade him to the Toronto Maple Leafs, while Selke was running the show in Toronto in Conn Smythe's military absence. Kennedy would win five Stanley Cups and a Hart Trophy with the Leafs, and to this day considered one of the best face-off men of all time.

The deal and fallout between Selke and Smythe was detailed in Frank Orr's tribute to Kennedy, following the latter's death in 2009.

Kennedy attracted the attention of a Montreal Canadiens scout when he was 16. The Habs moved him to Montreal in 1942 to play for the Royals junior team and practice with the NHL club, paying his tuition at a private school.

'But I just didn't like the situation and I told them I was going home,' Kennedy said.

He finished the season with the Port Colborne senior team, coached by the NHL's leading career goal-scorer at the time, Nels (Old Poison) Stewart, a star with the old Montreal Maroons. Stewart told the youngster Leafs coach Hap Day was a master at developing young players.

Frank Selke, the hockey genius who was in charge of the Leafs during Major Smythe's World War II absence, traded young defenceman Frank Eddolls to the Canadiens for the NHL rights to Kennedy.

Smythe was furious Selke had made the trade without consulting him, the start of the split between the two men who had combined their talents to build the Leafs and Maple Leaf Gardens from scratch.

After Smythe sacked him, Selke moved to the Canadiens in 1946 to build the most successful franchise in pro sports.

"It was a prime example of the many contradictions in Conn Smythe," Selke said years later. "Ted Kennedy was justifiably one of Smythe's favourites, but he never gave me credit – or forgave me – for getting Teeder without his permission."  - Frank Orr,The Toronto Star, Aug 15, 2009

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