clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Schneider the latest in a long list of second-time-arounders


For newly acquired defenseman Matt Schneider, it must be a comfortable feeling knowing what he's getting into!

Schneider joins fellow rearguards Francis Bouillon and Patrice Brisebois as current two tenured Montreal Canadiens, and now numbers among the over 40 players who have enjoyed a return stint to Montreal in 100 years of Canadiens history.

Other recent returnees to Hab citizenry have included forwards Stephane Richer and Shayne Corson, who played during the late 1980's era Pat Burns coached team. Houle and Corson had less than successful second tenures, after being brought back into the fold by GM Rejean Houle a decade later.

Having a player return to Montreal after starting out in the city is not a rare or a new thing. Since 1996, the Canadiens have actually dressed at least one player each season who was a second time arounder.

Returning to play hockey in Montreal has in fact been going on since the 1910-11 season, the Canadiens second.

As is the case with many Canadiens "firsts", the honour of first returnee belongs to Edouard "Newsy" Lalonde, the third player ever to be signed to a contract by the club in 1909.


Newsy became in essense, the ultimate rent - a - player for the Renfrew Creamery Kings in 1910, scoring a whopping 22 goals (9 in one game against Cobalt!) in his five games with Renfrew. Lalonde, who had 16 goals in 11 games with the much weaker Canadiens, was sold to Renfrew to shore up a Stanley Cup run for the Ambrose O'Brien owned Creamery Kings club. Greatly enabling the cash deal was the fact that O'Brien owned four NHA franchises that season, and Lalonde was moved not unlike a precious piece on a chessboard.

Lalonde would return to a reorganized Canadiens club for the 1910-11 season, as the NHA had designatened the Montreal franchise as the league's flagship french player only team, now run by new owner George Kennedy. Newsy, in fact, would have a third go round with the team, departing for the 1911-12 season to sign with the Vancouver Millionaires of the PCHA, before returning once again in 1912-13. He would then remain a Canadien until 1922, when he was dealt to Saskatoon Crescents for Aurele Joliat.

As with Lalonde, likely the most celebrated return to a Habs uni involved the equally legendary Howie Morenz. With the Stratford Streak's skills declining in 1934, manager Leo Dandurand sought to remove Morenz from the subjected mounting boos from the Forum crowd, and dealt him to Chicago in a blockbuster trade.


With the Blackhawks disappointed in the elder statesmen, he was moved to the Rangers before being brought back to the Canadiens in 1936. The resparked love - in with Morenz was short lived however, as a multiple fracture to his leg suffered in a collision during a game ending both his playing days, and his life, not long after.

Morenz and Lalonde weren't the only two Hall Of Famers to make reurns. Didier Pitre, exiled to the Vancouver Millionaires in exchange for lalonde in 1913, signed with the Canadiens the following season, as homesick as the fans who missed his big shot.

Goalie George Hainsworth, one of only three Canadiens goaltenders ever to make a return, was acquired from the Maple Leafs in 1936, to help bail the Habs from sinking fortunes.

Other notable name players from that early era to make a return included Albert "Battleship" Leduc, Herb Gardiner, and Howard McNamara.

Marty Burke is hardly a name that jumps to mind when recalling great Habs players of the past, but he does have the distinction of being the only four time Canadien. In the span of 11 seasons, Burke was dealt and reaquired three times, divided by spells in a Pittsbugh Pirates, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins uniform.


Not all two tenured Canadiens were traded off. Joe Benoit, who began with the Canadiens in 1940 is just one example of a player whose Habs time was split by army duty. Benoit passed up his role as a sniper on the Habs top line, when he enlisted in the Armed Forces for two years, stationed much of the time in Calgary, where he played on an army based club. Returning for the 1945-46 season, Benoit found his slot in the team hierarchy consumed for good by one Maurice "Rocket" Richard.


Other curious wartime era returnees include Hall Of Famer Ken Reardon and former Habs rookie of the year John Quilty. Reardon, upon his return, hit his prime years for five more seasons. Quilty, on the other hand, saw his production diminish so swiftly that he soon left the game behind.

Curiously, from 1950 to 1969, the Canadiens had not a single second timer in their ranks. It was in this era when the Canadiens farm system was deepest, and there were many shufflings of players from the minors to the pros and back. When a player of a particular talent was needed, sure enough the Canadiens had what was required in their fold.

The 1970's marked an era where the Canadiens needs were quite specific. They returned but three talents that they added to a strong core, and two could be a termed a specialist of sorts. Jimmy Roberts and Claude Larose were shut down defenseive forwards well acquainted with the Canadiens methods. They were returned, not as reclamation projects, but because their value to the Canadiens exceeded their worth elsewhere. Still, Sam Pollock paid no king's ransom for either. The third player, Rejean Houle, had left for the cash cow that was the WHA, and was brought in at no cost at all.


Between 1976 and 1991, the lone returnee was Gaston Gingras, a blueliner with a deadly blast from the point. He too cost little, and was brought in mainly to help prop up the Canadiens powerplay, in case nagging injuries to players such as Chris Chelios or Larry Robinson hampered their utility. Gingras, who came back a more rounded defender, proved to be a more than able insurance policy on the way to winning a 23rd Stanley Cup.


From 1991 until the present, the pickings of returnees has been less than expected, and disappointing for the most part. Tough guy Chris Nilan was picked up on waivers to annoy the Bruins and give him a more suitable sendoff into retirement. Corson was having a revival of sorts in St.Louis, when GM Houle estimated he was fair exchange for an unhappy Pierre Turgeon. Houle also gambled Lyle Odelein on Richer and lost, figuring a return to the limelight that once caused him to wilt would now spur the former 50 goal man back to glory.

Goalie Frederic Chabot, Craig Darby and Jesse Belanger were spare parts required during dire times of need. Neither came with great expectations. Oleg Petrov returned and became the Canadiens leading scorer for a season, which tells how hard times then in fact were. Sylvain Blouin was seen as the missing enforcer that the club needed, but he had little hockey skill and his second trip home was as brief as his first.


A more significant rapatriation was defenseman Stephane Quintal, who left the scene for big free agent dollars two seasons prior in 1999. Quintal was soon miserable away from Montreal, and his contract was much more bearable for the Canadiens. He made a solid contribution to an average Canadiens club, and played final three campaigns until the 2005 lockout ended his career.

Francis Bouillon left town as well, and if you blinked, you may have missed it. Claimed on waivers by Nashville during the 2002-03 season, he was gone a mere three weeks when the Predators themselves waived him. The Canadiens were pleased to get him back. Brisebois was a surprise signing by current GM Bob Gainey, after being bought out by the club in 2005. After two seasons of midling success with the Colorado Avalanche, Brisebois returned as a role player in a depth position

Schneider is the newest member of this heavily scrutinized group, and becomes quite distict himself for having spent the most time away - close to 15 seasons - between his two Montreal tenures. Only time will tell if his reaquisition was a neccessary move.


Here is a chronological list of the Canadiens who had two or more Montreal lives.

Newsy Lalonde 1909-10, 1910-11, 1913-22

Didier Pitre 1909-13, 1914-23

Skinner Poulin 1909-11, 1915-17

Evariste Payer 1910-12, 1917-18

Howard McNamara 1915-16, 1919-20

Harry Mummery 1916-17, 1920-21

Jack McDonald 1917-19, 1920-21

Billy Bell 1917-22, 1922-24

Howie Morenz 1923-34, 1936-37

Albert Leduc 1925-33, 1934-35

Pete Palangio 1926-27, 1928-29

Herb Gardiner 1926-28, 1928-29

George Hainsworth 1926-33, 1936-37

Marty Burke 1927-28, 1928-33, 1933-34, 1937-38

Art Lesieur 1928-29, 1929-36

Jean Pusie 1930-32, 1935-36

Wilf Cude 1933-34, 1934-41

Paul Runge 1934-36, 1936-37

Roger Jenkins 1934-35, 1936-37

George Brown 1936-39, 1941-43

Ken Reardon 1940-42, 1945-50

John Quilty 1940-42, 1946-48

Joe Benoit 1940-43, 1945-47

Paul Bibeault 1940-43, 1945-46

J.P. Gauthier 1960-67, 1969-70

Claude Larose 1962-68, 1970-75

Bryan Watson 1963-65, 1967-68


Leon Rochefort 1963-67, 1970-71

Jimmy Roberts 1963-67, 1971-77

Garry Peters 1964-65, 1966-67

Rejean Houle 1969-73, 1976-83


Gaston Gingras 1979-83, 1985-88

Chris Nilan 1979-88, 1991-92

Shayne Corson 1985-92, 1996-2000

Stephane Richer 1985-91, 1996-98

Mathieu Schneider 1987-95, 2009

Frederic Chabot 1990-94, 1998-99

Jesse Belanger 1991-93, 1999-2000

Oleg Petrov 1992-96, 1999-2003

Craig Darby 1994-95, 1999-2002

Stephane Quintal 1995-99, 2001-04

Sylvain Blouin 1998-99, 2002-03

Francis Bouillon 1999-2002, 2002-09

Patrice Brisebois 1990-2004, 2007-09