What’s so interesting about compiling a list of every Montreal Canadiens player who’s scored 500 goals in the NHL is how few Canadiens’ players actually scored that many goals. When I began, I thought I might compile a list of at least 10 names. However, that wasn’t to be.
I thought, with the age and the greatness of this Original Six franchise, that throughout NHL history a higher number of Canadiens players would have scored 500 goals. However, I could only find six players in NHL history that both (a) played for the Montreal Canadiens and (b) reached the 500-goal mark during their NHL careers. That’s an exclusive club.
The Criteria for this List
One note about compiling this list of great NHL/Canadiens’ players, was that any NHL player who made the list had to have scored 500 NHL goals. That part was easy enough to count. However, the second criterion, that a player could play any number of games with the Canadiens’ franchise, was a bit more difficult to make the franchise’s list.
As you read through this list of great NHL players, you’ll note that some of these players played all their careers in Montreal. However, a number only played a few seasons with the Canadians and most of their careers somewhere else. I’ve counted any player who’ve scored 500 goals in this list, whether they played 5 games or 500 games with the Canadiens.
I don’t think I’ve missed any of these great NHL players who both scored 500 goals and played with the Canadians. If I have, please don’t hesitate to correct me. I did my research, but I could have made a mistake.
Here’s the list
Mark Recchi was never a high-volume scorer. Instead, he steadily compiled goals every season he played. In total, he played 22 seasons and during those seasons scored 20 goals many times. He had a huge season in 1992-93 with the Philadelphia Flyers when he scored an amazing 53 goals and 70 assists for 123 points in 84 NHL games. However, that was the only season he had that was score-sheet spectacular.
In total, Recchi played 1,652 NHL games and he scored double-digit goals over and over until he was well past 40 years of age. By the time he hung up his skates, he’d scored 577 goals.
Recchi scored his 500th goal on January 26, 2007. Recchi’s better kn0wn as a Flyers’ player than a Habs’ player, but he did play almost five seasons with the Canadiens; and, in that time, he scored 120 goals.
Unlike Recchi, Guy Lafleur is one of the faces of the Canadiens’ franchise. He was of a different era than the great Jean Beliveau, who I’ll talk about later. However, he took Believeau’s records a step further.
Lafleur, whose nickname was “The Flower,” had six straight 50-goal seasons. He led the NHL in goals by scoring 60 in 1977-78, when he was the 16th Canadiens player to win an NHL scoring championship. He won two Hart Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy.
Oddly, he retired for three seasons but came back to play three seasons with the New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques. He scored 560 goals in total.
Lafleur scored his 500th goal on December 20, 1983. He was the 10th NHL player ever to score 500 goals. Interestingly, Lafleur scored when it counted. Of his 560 career goals, 97 of them (17.3%) were game-winning goals. No other 500-goal scorer has achieved that high a percentage.
Of all the players on this list, Richard started his career the earliest – in 1942. He was the first player to score 50 goals in a single season, when he scored 50 goals in only 50 games. That record that held until Wayne Gretzky broke it on December 30th 1981, when he scored five goals against the Philadelphia Flyers to give him 50 goals in 39 games. He not only beat Richard’s record, but set a record no one is likely to come close to beating.]
“The Rocket,” as was his nickname, led the league in goals five times and scored 544 career goals in less than 1,000 career games. Richard scored his 500th goal on October 19, 1957.
Richard is clearly a Canadiens’ legend and set high standards for other elite NHL goal-scorers to beat. Other than the great Mario Lemieux, The Rocket is one of only two 500-goal scorers to score five goals in a playoff game. Before 1944, no one had even scored 10 goals in a playoff season. Richard led the NHL in playoffs goals scored five seasons.
It’s impressive that Frank Mahovlich scored 533 goals in his NHL career, but he could have had more – 622 to be exact. That’s because, after spending 18 seasons in the NHL, he played four seasons in the WHA and added 89 more goals. These goals don’t count on our list, but they were still goals.
The “Big M,” as was Mahovlich’s nickname, was the third NHL great to reach 500-goals. He did it with the Montreal Canadiens on March 21, 1973.
Interestingly, he came to Montreal in a round-about way. He started his career with the rival Toronto Maple Leafs then was traded to the Detroit Red Wings at the end of the 1967-68 season. Fortunately for the Canadiens, during the middle of the 1970-71 season, his Red Wings were on a huge losing skid and Mahovlich was traded to Montreal. The Red Wings kept on losing that season, but Mahovlich found new life, led the 1971 playoffs in scoring, and helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup.
Although Mahovlich never scored 50 goals during any season, he was the first player to score 40 goals during a season with three different teams. His 1973 Stanley Cup Champion Canadiens had 11 future Hockey Hall-of-Famers on its roster, which is the most ever on a single team.
It might be a surprise that Pierre Turgeon is a member of the 500-goal club, because he isn’t considered a superstar. But he was a great player who started his NHL career very early. Turgeon was only 17 years old in 1987 when he was drafted number one in that year’s NHL Entry Draft.
In total, Turgeon played 19 NHL seasons – three with the Canadiens. He scored 50 goals during those seasons and 515 goals during his career. Turgeon might have been undervalued even when he played because he was only named to four All-Star Games in 19 seasons. Turgeon scored his 500th NHL goal on November 8, 2005.
Jean Beliveau is absolutely loved in Montreal, and he’s a true gentleman. He began his career in 1950; and, in those days no one scored 50 goals during a season. In fact, Beliveau never scored 50 goals a season either. In fact, he hit the 40-goal mark twice. However, he played 18 great seasons with the Canadiens and totaled 507 career goals.
“Le Gros Bill,” as was Beliveau’s nickname, scored his 500th goal on February 11, 1971. However, his greatest achievement wasn’t his goal scoring. As a leader, he helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup 17 times during his career – 10 times as a player (five as team captain) and seven as a Canadiens’ executive. No one else in history has come close to that record.
Believeau also played in 12 Stanley Cup Finals, also a record and, on January 23, 1956, he became the first NHL hockey player to get his picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
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