On April 27, 2020, the All-Time Montreal Canadiens Team was named as part of TSN’s Hockey’s All-Time 7 Project where TSN is naming all-time teams for each of the seven Canadian NHL Teams. On each team, TSN named 21 players, a head coach, and a general manager.
The Montreal Canadiens: The Most Decorated Team in NHL History
Although this was the first Canadian-based team that TSN chose to create an All-Time Team with, we at NHLTradeTalk.com have done reviews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators, and the Winnipeg Jets already. We invite you to take a look at these – and in case you are Canadian hockey fans like we are we’ll put links to these reviews in this post to help.
We congratulate TSN for their work on these all-time teams and their guts to go after the Montreal Canadiens right off the get-go. Choosing only 21 players for this amazing franchise had to be difficult. There’s no doubt in my mind that this franchise is the most decorated franchise in NHL history. So, welcome to the Montreal Canadiens All-Time Team.
The Difficulty of Choosing a Canadiens Goalie
As Steve Dryden, the Senior Managing Editor of Hockey for TSN noted, it was a huge challenge to choose two Canadiens goalies. In part, five Canadiens have been named to the Hall of Famer at the goalie position.
However, because someone on the 2019-20 roster had to make the team and Carey Price was the only authentic candidate to fill that requirement, he was chosen to be one of the goalies. And, because Price already ranks first in the franchise for wins with 348, he would be a solid choice nonetheless. [Jacques Plante is second in wins with 314, Patrick Roy with 289, and Ken Dryden with 258.]
But, who among those choices should be the other goalie? Both Plante and Dryden each won six Stanley Cups. Roy was twice a playoff MVP, and even George Hainsworth had an amazing 22 shutouts in 44 games way back in 1928-29.
If you’re a Canadiens fan and you’re wondering where Georges (name the Trophy for league’s best goalie after him) Vezina was in the considerations, he didn’t make the minimum requirement of playing 225 games for the team. After deliberation, the TSN team chose Dryden over Roy by a narrow margin as the Canadiens’ top goalie.
It’s shame to leave Roy off the all-time list; however, those who chose followed the criteria. Although it must be said that Roy was amazing for the Habs. He led the Canadiens to two Stanley Cups and won two Conn Smythe trophies as he did it. Furthermore, the teams he played for were not filled with other Hall of Famers – he was basically the lone star.
As well, Plante was picked as the Canadiens’ foundational player; and, a foundational player was defined as the player who “is part of the very fabric, the DNA, of the organization.”
Choices By Position for the Canadiens All-Time Team
Goalie Ken Dryden
Dryden had a simply extraordinary career. He recorded 258 wins with 57 losses in regular-season games. In the playoffs he was even better, leading his team to 19 series wins and two losses in eight post-season Stanley Cup runs. In the end, he won six Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Calder Trophy, and was named six times to be on the first or second all-star team. It’s hard to remember that he played only eight NHL seasons in total.
Goalie Carey Price
As I noted, Price leads the organization in wins over its entire history. He also won the 2014-15 Hart Trophy.
Left-Defenseman Doug Harvey – Right-Defenseman Butch Bouchard
Doug Harvey won the Norris Trophy six times, and Butch Bouchard was a three-time first-team NHL all-star. Both are in the Hall of Fame.
Left-Defenseman Guy Lapointe – Right-Defenseman Chris Chelios
Guy Lapointe had three 20-goal seasons and was top-five in Norris Trophy voting six times. Chris Chelios won a Norris Trophy and a Stanley Cup.
Left-Defenseman Larry Robinson – Right-Defenseman Serge Savard
Larry Robinson and Serge Savard were named as the “Shutdown Pair.” As Dryden noted in his article, there’s no other twosome anyone Canadiens fan would want to see protecting a lead in the final minute of a playoff game. Each member of this a pair won was a Conn Smythe-winning defenseman.
Left-Winger Steve Shutt – Center Jean Beliveau – Right-Winger Guy Lafleur
Shutt and Lafleur share the team record for most goals in a season at 60. Beliveau was one of the great puck handlers and puck assists-men in NHL history. Beliveau was also a great guy.
Left-Winger Toe Blake – Center Henri Richard – Right-Winger Rocket Richard
Toe Blake and The Rocket Richard comprised two-thirds of what was called the Punch Line. Brother Henri, who sadly just passed away, was nicknamed the Pocket Rocket. In the voting for the All-Time Canadiens team, he takes the place on the Punch Line for the original member Elmer Lach. And, Henri’s a good choice because he won an NHL-record 11 Stanley Cups.
Left-Winger Dickie Moore – Center Howie Morenz – Right-Winger Bernie Geoffrion
Each of three these players won scoring titles and won a scoring title twice. Interestingly, Bernie Geoffrion was the son-in-law to Howie Morenz. And Morenz was simply the NHL’s most important player during the decades of the 1920s and early 1930s.
Left-Winger Bob Gainey – Center Guy Carbonneau – Right-Winger Claude Provost
These Canadiens players made up the “Checking Line.” Together they combined to win seven Selke Trophies and 16 Stanley Cups. They might together be the greatest checking line ever formed from a single franchise.
Foundational Player – Goalie Jacques Plante
Jacques Plante was a revolutionary impact player who changed the game. He was the first goalie ever to wear a mask. His playoff record from 1956 through 1960 was 40 wins and only nine losses. His best playoff streak he won eight straight games to complete the team’s record of five straight Stanley Cups.
Head Coach – Scotty Bowman (1971-79)
Bowman didn’t win more Canadiens Stanley Cups than Toe Blake did (winning five to Blake’s eight); however, his winning percentage was .744 and Blake’s was .634 – both were good, but Bowman was better.
General Manager – Sam Pollock (1964-78)
Sam Pollock was the poster child for both hockey and business intelligence. In fact, he was simply a genius, and his winning nine Stanley Cups was a small part of that.
The Last Cuts
As noted, Roy was a tough cut because he was one of the only players to win two Conn Smythe Trophies with the same team. [The other players were Bobby Orr, Bernie Parent, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Sidney Crosby.]
Goalie: Patrick Roy (1985-95)
Left-Defense: Jacques Laperriere (1963-74)
Right-Defense: P.K. Subban (2010-16)
Left-Wing: Aurel Joliat (1922-38)
Center: Elmer Lach (1940-54)
Right-Winger: Yvan Cournoyer (1964-79)
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