By a rather thin margin, legendary blueliner Serge Savard was able to win out and take the lucky 13th spot on our list in the last round of voting.
When a six foot tall, 11 year old Serge Savard moved to Montreal, he already knew exactly what he wanted to do for a living. By 15, he was already on the team's reserve list, and he would eventually become one of the best defenders to ever come through the organization. In his Sophomore season in 1968-69, he helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup, and became the first defenseman to win the Conn Smythe trophy in the process. He would win the Cup seven more times with Montreal, and even added a Masterton trophy to boot.
His method of evading opponents with a quick pivoting turn led broadcaster Danny Gallivan to coin the term "Savardian Spin-O-Rama. Few players could protect the puck as well as Savard did, and he earned himself a reputation as one of the best shutdown defenders of his time. Alongside Larry Robinson, he formed arguably one of the best pairings of all time, and now joins him in the all-time top 25.
|2||Jean Beliveau||1952-1971||1125GP, 507G, 712A, 1219P|
|3||Guy Lafleur||1971-1985||961GP, 518G, 728A, 1246P|
|4||Larry Robinson||1972-1989||1202GP, 197G, 686A, 883P|
|5||Doug Harvey||1947-1961||890GP, 76G, 371A, 447P|
|6||Howie Morenz||1923-1934, 1936-37||460GP, 267G, 150A, 417P|
|7||Henri Richard||1955-1975||1256GP, 358G, 688A, 1046P|
|8||Jacques Plante||1953-1963||556GP, 314W, 133L, 2.23GAA, 58SO|
|9||Patrick Roy||1985-1996||551GP, 289W, 175L, 2.77GAA, 29SO|
|10||Ken Dryden||1970-1979||397GP, 258W, 57L, 2.24GAA, 46SO|
|11||Yvan Cournoyer||1963-1979||968GP, 428G, 435A, 863P|
|12||Bernie Geoffrion||1950-1964||766GP, 371G, 388A, 759P|
|13||Serge Savard||1967-1981||917GP, 100G, 312A, 412P|
It seemed after the 13th round, that the community was looking for another goaltender to be added as a contender moving forward. With a few good options remaining at that position, we landed on one who is a nearly forgotten legend of the goal crease.
Bill Durnan had a short, seven season career in the Canadiens goal crease, but he was by far the best in the world during that time. Through those seven seasons, he won an incredible six Vezina trophies, his only non-winning year coming after a poor campaign by the team in 1947-48. He only managed two stanley cups during his time, but his unbelievable dominance of the Vezina goes to show just how good he was compared to the rest of the league.
He set a record with four straight shutouts during the 1948-49 season, which would last over 50 years until it was broken in 2004. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Durnan though, was that he was ambidextrous, and used modified gloves that allowed him to catch with either hand. Known as "Dr. Strange Glove," his tactic of switching hands greatly confused opposing shooters, and his great success at doing this is why he deserves your consideration.
The final member of the 'Big Three' to see his sweater raised to the rafters, it is fitting that he be the final member of that trio to be featured as a candidate for our votes. Guy Lapointe was one of the most ferocious hitters of his time, and possessed a cannon of a slapshot, likely rivaled in team history only by Bernie Geoffrion himself. He may actually be better known as one of the greatest pranksters of all time, and even gave Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau a Vaseline coated handshake once upon a time.
Pranks aside, he was a highly valuable member of the powerhouse 70's team that won the Stanley Cup six times. To this day, he holds the single season record for goals scored by a Canadiens defenseman with 28, and the rookie defenseman record with 15. He chipped in 13 points through 17 games in the 1973 playoffs, and if not for the greatness of Yvan Cournoyer that year, he easily could have won the Conn Smythe. If we're needing more defensemen on this list, here's a great candidate to vote for.
The leader of the Punch Line, it was Toe Blake who mentored a young Maurice Richard in Montreal. For four years the punch line absolutely dominated the NHL, winning it all twice and even finishing one, two, three in scoring (Lach, Richard, Blake) in 1944-45. Pre-Punch Line, Blake won the Art Ross and the Hart Trophy in 1938-39, and earned his nickname "The old Lamplighter."
I believe that the only reason Toe Blake's number six is not hanging from the rafters, is that his unbelievable coaching career in Montreal overshadowed his playing days. He won eight cups as a coach, which understandably can serve to overshadow an amazing playing career. He only won the cup twice as a player, so it is easy to forget how great he was, but he absolutely deserves to be in contention for a spot on this list.
If I were to be given the honour of selecting a nickname for Jacques Lemaire, it would be "Mr. Consistent." Throughout his entire 12 year career - all with the Canadiens - he never once failed to score at least 20 goals. As a top line centre, he was the glue that held the magical tandem of Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt together. During those 12 years in Montreal, he got to know Stanley quite well, winning the Cup a solid eight times.
When he was young, he used to practice his shot with a heavy steel puck. As a result, not many NHLers in his era could compete with the speed and accuracy of his shot. That, and a magical relationship with his linemates Shutt and Lafleur is what propelled him to seventh all-time in team scoring. Definitely a solid candidate to add to our list moving forward.
Le Petit Viking was the first ever european born player to play for the Canadiens, and coincidentally the first european to appear on this list. A second round pick in 1979, Naslund would take the city by storm three years later, scoring 71 points in his 74 game rookie season. When people talk about the 1986 cup team, you often hear a lot about Patrick Roy, and deservedly so, but it was Mats Naslund who led the team in scoring that year in the playoffs.
Naslund's offensive abilities were well known, and he made sure he had a lot of time to practice his craft by staying out of the penalty box. He never logged more than 19 penalty minutes in a single season, which earned him the Lady Byng in 1988, beating Wayne Gretzky in votes. He was a gentleman, a heck of a scorer, and if he can beat Wayne Gretzky in a vote then maybe he can earn yours for this top 25.
Steve Shutt is, in my opinion, the ultimate underrated player in Habs history. When Shutt was a young player on a stacked team riding the pressbox a lot, Dick Irvin said that he never believed Shutt would play in the NHL. Not only did he prove Irvin wrong, he exponentially increased his totals over his first three seasons in the NHL until he was a regular 30-plus goal scorer. A major part of the 1970's powerhouse teams, Shutt retired with five stanley cups as a Canadien.
He formed a tandem with Guy Lafleur, which in the words of the great coach Scotty Bowman, was "pretty much unstoppable." He set a record for NHL left wingers with 60 goals in 1976-77, which would not be broken until 1992-93 by Luc Robitaille. Many have argued that Shutt was the benefactor of playing with Guy Lafleur, but even Lafleur himself has stated that Shutt was equally important for his successes.
Another member of the five straight cup squad, Dickie Moore is one of the best wingers to ever play in the National Hockey League. In total, he won six Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, and was arguably as vital to those squads as the Rocket. In 1958-59, he would break Gordie Howe's record of 95 points in a single season, en route to one of his two Art Ross Trophies.
Moore was voted the top left winger in the history of the Canadiens when the team unveiled it's dream team 75th anniversary team in 1985. It was a well deserved accolade for an amazing career, and he now is in the running for our list of the top 25 players of all time.
You may have never heard of Newsy Lalonde, as he is somewhat of a lost legend in hockey. If there were a challenger to Howie Morenz as hockey's first superstar, it would be Lalonde. but it may interest you to know that he scored the first ever Montreal Canadiens goal in 1910, played in a number of different leagues back in the challenge cup era, and may actually have been hockey's first 500 goal scorer.
His totals listed above aren't the most impressive you'll ever see, but they warrant some explanation. Seasons were considerably shorter in his day, so he didn't have the time to put up the lofty totals that some other legends did. When you take a look at his 1.265 goals per game played though, you get a real picture of what he was as a player in his day. He absolutely deserves your consideration in this vote.
Elmer Lach was of course the pivot that centred the most famous line in Canadiens' history; The Punch Line. One of the best centremen to ever play for the Habs, it was Elmer Lach who gave Jean Béliveau lessons on how to take face-offs when the latter entered the league. He was known for his exceptional skating and passing abilities. Béliveau himself spoke fondly of Lach's amazing passes in his biography. Through 14 years in Montreal, Lach won three Stanley Cups , two Art Ross trophies, and one Hart trophy.
Perhaps the best part about Elmer Lach is that he attended Toronto's training camp in 1937, but was rejected for being 'too small.' Three years later, he would sign with the Canadiens and become one of the club's all-time greats. At the time of his retirement, Lach was the leading point scorer not just in Montreal Canadiens' history, but that of the entire league. That fantastic passing sure helped him to that end. He may not have the pedigree of his famous former right winger, but he absolutely deserves his spot on this list.
When Newsy Lalonde was signed by the Saskatoon Shieks of the WHL in 1922, the hockey community of Montreal was in uproar at his loss, and the fact that Joliat was the compensation for the signing. Dubbed 'The Little Giant,' Joliat was like the first ever Brendan Gallagher. He stood a mere 5'7" and weighed 136 pounds soaking wet, but he played the game with absolutely no fear, used his speed, and became one of the best scorers of his time.
Joliat played with Howie Morenz for the bulk of his career, and in many ways, he was really the needle to Morenz's thread. The Flying Frenchman moniker was bolstered by these two, due to their extremely speedy ways of playing the game. He won three Stanley Cups with the Canadiens with Morenz at his side, won a Hart trophy, and retired as the leading Canadiens' goal scorer at the time. You may not know Joliat very well, but he absolutely deserves to be on this list.
There it is, ten greats to select from for the next spot on our list. Happy debating, and remember to suggest players you'd like to see added in the next round.