The Montreal Canadiens are a franchise with a storied history. Twenty-four Stanley Cup banners have been raised over their 100-plus years as an organization and currently hang up in the rafters of the Bell Centre. Alongside them are 18 other banners representing the greatest players to have ever played for the team, their numbers forever retired.
Those players are:
- Jacques Plante: The goaltending innovator who not only introduced the mask for a goaltender, but also angered many by leaving his crease to play the puck, an unheard of situation for goaltenders at the time. He won six Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, including five consecutive wins in the 50’s.
- Doug Harvey: Widely considered one of the greatest two-way defencemen to have ever played the game, surpassed only by the great Bobby Orr. He won five Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, was a seven-time Norris Trophy winner, and an eleven-time NHL All-Star.
- Emile Bouchard: An eight-year captain of the Canadiens, he won four Stanley Cups and was a four-time All-Star. Known for his defensive acumen, opposing players rarely got past Bouchard who excelled at body-checking and a strong shutdown style. He was credited with salvaging the franchise that was on the verge of folding after ten consecutive losing seasons in the 30’s and early 40’s.
- Jean Beliveau: One of the most respected men to ever play in the NHL and the longest serving team captain. Beliveau was only the second player to ever reach 1,000 points, won two Hart Trophies as league MVP and a stunning 10 Stanley Cups as a player.
- Bernie Geoffrion: Takes credit for inventing the slapshot, won six Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, and was only the second player to score 50 goals in a single season. His contribution is frequently overshadowed by Beliveau and Maurice Richard, who he played alongside with. Yet, he still won a Hart Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy, and a Calder Trophy, along with a selection to the All-Star team during his career.
- Guy Lapointe: Was as equally known for his fierce body-checking as he was for his locker room pranking, and was a 20-goal scorer on three occasions. He won the Stanley Cup six times with the Canadiens as part of the “Big Three” defensive unit alongside Larry Robinson and Serge Savard.
- Howie Morenz: Considered one of the first stars of the NHL, he won three Stanley Cups with the Canadiens. For seven straight seasons, he led the Canadiens in goals and points, and won the Hart Trophy three times.
- Maurice Richard: A firebrand on the ice and a galvanizing force off of it. His list of accomplishments and records he held are too numerous to list in a hastily prepared paragraph, but his 18 seasons with the Canadiens entrenched the team as the golden standard for the entire league. His name transcended hockey and he became a cultural icon in Quebec.
- Guy Lafleur: The first player in NHL history to score 50 goals and 100 points in six straight seasons. He won five Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, and is considered the last great superstar forward from the storied Sam Pollock era. Lafleur became a cultural icon in Quebec and was known for his flowing blonde hair when skating down the ice. One the opposite end of the spectrum, he released a disco record.
- Yvan Cournoyer: Had a successful NHL career despite his small stature of 5’7” primarily thanks to his blazing quickness, which he used to effortlessly pass by towering opposing defenders. A four-time 40-goal scorer, and a Conn Smyth Trophy winner in 1973.
- Dickie Moore: Held the record for most points scored in a single season with 96 in 1959, a record that stood for seven years until Bobby Hull broke it in 1966 with 97 points. A six-time Stanley Cup champion and a two-time Art Ross Trophy winner.
- Henri Richard: Collected over 1,000 points with the Canadiens in his franchise-leading 1,256 games played. He won 11 Stanley Cups as a player with the Canadiens — a record that will never be broken.
- Elmer Lach: Was the centre of the feared Punch Line along with Richard and Toe Blake. He led the NHL in scoring twice, and won the Hart Trophy once in 1945. He retired in 1954 as the NHL all-time leading scorer.
- Serge Savard: In 1969, he became the first defenceman in franchise history to win the Conn Smyth Trophy. Savard played on eight Stanley Cup championship teams for the Canadiens, and was the second-to-last active player from the Original Six era in his final season in 1983 as a member of the Winnipeg Jets.
- Larry Robinson: The most complete and feared defenceman to ever play in the NHL. Physically imposing, yet deceptively fast, Robinson holds the unbeatable franchise record for most points by a defenceman and a ridiculous career plus-minus rating of +730, including a league second-best ever +120 in 1976-77. He won the Stanley Cup six times with the Canadiens, and during his 17-year tenure with the team, the Canadiens never missed the playoffs.
- Bob Gainey: A highly respected player who was considered one of the best shut-down forwards to ever play in the league and won four consecutive Frank Selke Trophies as a result. He is only one of a handful of players who have played over 1,000 games with the Canadiens, and he is the final captain to have retired as a member of the organization.
- Ken Dryden: Emerged from obscurity during the 1971 playoffs to take the team all the way to the Stanley Cup in his rookie year, and five more times during his career. He is a five-time Vezina winner, a Conn Smyth winner, a Calder Trophy winner, and made the NHL All-Star team five times.
- Patrick Roy: One of the best goaltenders of the 90’s, Roy won two Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and two more with the Colorado Avalanche, and is the only player in NHL history to have won three Conn Smythe Trophies. He is credited with modernizing the goaltending position by popularizing the butterfly style.
These are the 18 legends whose name hangs up in the rafters of the Bell Centre. It’s now your job to vote one of them out as we begin the first day of the MONTREAL CANADIENS LEGENDS CHALLENGE.
Voting will continue until just one player is left, who will be dubbed THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION.
Cast your vote now for the player who you chose to eliminate, and stay tuned for results the following day. Voting ends at midnight.