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The top 25 Montreal Canadiens players of all time: Round 16

A community vote on the 25 best players in the glorious history of the Montreal Canadiens.

It took some time, but one of the first legends in the history of all hockey finally found his place on our list, as Newsy Lalonde came in at number 15.

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 well over a point per game totals, you get a real picture of what he was as a player in his day. He may actually deserve to be higher on this list, but it is great to see that he finally won over the voters and got in.

Rank Player Years Active Stats
1 Maurice Richard 1942-1960 978GP,544G,421A,965P
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
14 Elmer Lach 1940-1954 664GP, 215G, 408A, 623P
15 Newsy Lalonde 1909-1911, 1912-1922 201GP, 266G, 48A, 314P

There was one name that came up a number of times after the last round, and has in fact been getting kicked around for the last few. As this is a community exercise, your collective voices have been heard, and we will introduce a former captain, coach, and General Manager of the Canadiens.

Bob Gainey

Games Played Goals Assists Points
1160 239 262 501

Some were surprised when Sam Pollock selected Bob Gainey as the team's first pick in the 1972 draft. As defensive specialist forwards go, you'd be hard pressed to find one better than Gainey in Canadiens history. His defensive prowess did not go unnoticed, as he would take four consecutive Selke trophies from 1978 to 1981. The 1978 win was in fact the very first time the trophy was awarded, and you could even argue that the trophy was created just for him at that time.

He would win five Stanley cups as a member of the Canadiens, and was awarded the Conn Smythe following the 1979 win. That defensive prowess made him quite the penalty killer as well, as he is to this day the second highest short handed scorer in team history with 20 goals while on the kill. The community did well selecting Gainey as the next candidate, and he surely deserves consideration for a spot moving forward.

Saku Koivu

Games Played Goals Assists Points
792 191 450 641

For a generation of Habs fans, Saku Koivu has, and likely will always be known as their captain. The first player drafted after the 1993 Stanley Cup win, he was annointed as the team's next leader a short six years thereafter, and carried the torch in every way he could have been expected to. In 2001, he was expected to miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma, but famously beat the disease and returned late in the season, endearing him forever to every Habs fan alive.

He never won the Stanley Cup, but it was certainly not for lack of trying. He is the 10th highest scoring player in team history, and the highest scoring european the club has ever employed. His 450 assists put him in sixth on the club's all-time list, and in some prestigious company as such. If only for what he meant to the Montreal fan base during his time here, he deserves to be a candidate in our top 25.

Bill Durnan

Games Played Wins Losses GAA Shutouts
383 208 112 2.36 34

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.

Guy Lapointe

Games Played Goals Assists Points
777 166 406 572

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.

Toe Blake

Games Played Goals Assists Points
569 235 292 527

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.

Jacques Lemaire

Games Played Goals Assists Points
853 366 469 835

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.

Mats Naslund

Games Played Goals Assists Points
617 243 369 612

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

Games Played Goals Assists Points
871 408 368 776

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.

Dickie Moore

Games Played Goals Assists Points
654 254 340 594

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.

Aurèle Joliat

Games Played Goals Assists Points
655 270 190 460

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. Don't forget to suggest players you'd like to see added in the next round.