The Montreal Canadiens have a long history. 24 Stanley Cups in counting, a dozen more than anyone else. Multitude of players in the Hockey Hall of Fame, more than any other team. The number of retired jerseys makes having single digit numbers in the lineup almost impossible as so few are available. The prestige, the mythe, the legends, the history and the ghosts. You see the Stanley Cup banners in the rafters. When, as a player, you walk into this dressing room and see for yourself the banner quoting Flanders’ Field: “To you from failing hands we throw the torch be yours to hold it high”. It makes playing for this team, in this City, something that will leave no players indiferent. They either love it or want to avoid it like they do COVID-19.
You could make two or three full teams with some of the best Habs’ legends of all-time and you would have very competitive teams. Trying to fit them all into one team is impossible and when attempting to do so, some of the best players all-time would be left out.
And that’s the exercise I’ve tried to do for this article. I had to make some extremely tough decisions and left some great players out. You see, I tried building a team here, without necessarily looking at the all-time points getter or goals’ scorers. I wanted a mix of skills, speed, grit, determination while providing some protection for our best players. As Marc Bergevin puts it: a team tough to play against.
And here’s what I came up with, your all-time best Montreal Canadiens’ team, at least in my opinion:
|Maurice Richard||Jean Béliveau||Guy Lafleur|
|Dickie Moore||Frank Mahovlich||Bernard Geoffrion|
|Yvan Cournoyer||Elmer Lach||Henri Richard *|
|John Ferguson||Vincent Damphousse||Chris Nilan|
|Doug Harvey||Chris Chelios|
|Larry Robinson||Shea Weber|
|Serge Savard||Eric Desjardins|
|Ken Dryden||Patrick Roy|
|Scotty Bowman||Toe Blake|
Looking at this lineup, you can count an astonishing 127 Stanley Cup rings! Any time you can leave former 50 goals’ scorers Pierre Larouche and Stéphane Richer out, as well as a Hall of Fame defenseman like Guy Lapointe, you know that you have a deep team. Also, to justify my choice on defense, particularly, there was so much quality to choose from that I decided to keep guys on their natural side. And let’s not forget that tough guys John Ferguson (career high 29 goals) and Chris Nilan (career high 21 goals) could contribute more than just with their fists and hits.
Now how would you like to be facing this team in best of seven series? I don’t know many people who would like that. But if you had to make your own, or change something, I’d be curious to know what you would choose and why. There are really no bad answers when dealing with a team like the Montreal Canadiens and their history. Go Habs Go!