Mats Naslund

Like every other position, the Montreal Canadiens have had a lot of great left wingers over their long and glorious history. Steve Shutt, Bob Gainey, Dickie Moore, Toe Blake, Aurele Joliat, Bert Olmstead, and Frank Mahovlich are all Hall of Fame left wingerss.

But did you know the record for most points in one season by a Montreal LW is held by Mats Naslund, the very first Montreal player from overseas?

"Le Petit Viking" was born and grew up in Timra, a small city in the northern parts of Sweden. Mats Naslund was an extremely talented player in his early years and played against 11-year olds as a 6-year old. He made his first impact when he led Sweden to a Gold medal in the European Junior Championships in 1977 and later that year was voted as the best Swedish junior player.

In 1978 he left his longtime club Timra to play for the top club Brynas. A year later Mats was selected to play in the 1979 World championships. At first the trainer's selection of Mats was heavily criticized by media and hockey people in Sweden, as they all claimed that he was to small to compete in international play among seniors.

He quickly silenced the critics when he led the Swedish team in goals (5) and points (7). His fine play caught the eye of Montreal Canadiens scouts. A lot of Canadian journalists were curious who this little fellow was. Montreal selected Mats with their 2nd choice, 37th overall despite the fact that he only was 5'7" and 160lbs.

Mats didn't disappoint the scouts and had a fine season in the Swedish league as well as a 10 point performance in the 1980 Olympics. After the Olympic games Montreal wanted to sign Mats, but he declined the offer because he didn't feel ready. During the next season (1980-81) he led the Swedish league in assists (25) and points (42).

In 1981 he tore his ACL while playing badminton and missed the 1981 Canada Cup. His injury made Montreal back off for a while in their pursuit of his signature. But just three weeks prior to the 1982 World championships Mats signed a 3 year contract with Montreal, becoming the first ever European trained player in Canadiens 73 year history.

He was an instant hit with the Forum fans, scoring three goals in his first pre-season game (vs Philadelphia). From that moment on he was "Le Petit Viking," the little Viking. Mats sat out the first three games of his rookie season, but when Rejean Houle got injured, Mats got his NHL debut which came against the rivals Quebec Nordiques on October 11th 1982. Two nights later Mats buried a shot behind New Jersey's goalie Lindsay Middlebrook for his 1st career NHL goal. He was also the game's 2nd star. Mats also scored in his 3rd game vs NY Rangers and clicked immediately with his line mates Mario Tremblay and Pierre Mondou.

Mats best season in the NHL was undoubtedly the 1985-86 season when he scored 110 points (43 goals and 67 assists) and was a 2nd All-Star left wing. The crowning moment was the Cup win later that season where he scored 19 points, including 8 goals, in the playoffs and was a key component for Montreal. Mats never won another Cup although he had a splendid playoff the following season, scoring 22 points.

During his career Mats earned a reputation as a true playoff warrior, scoring a very respectable 92 points (35 goals and 57 assists) in 102 playoff games. By doing so he won over a lot of fans, and remains one of the most popular European players in Canada.

Mats strongest asset was undoubtedly his speed and acceleration, plus a great change of pace ability. He had good hands and took passes excellently while in full stride. Despite his small size he could absorb and give a check as good as anyone. He wasn't a true superstar player but an above average player who took over Guy Lafleur's role as Montreal's dynamic offensive leader and fan favorite. The Montreal Forum applauded his efforts every time announcer Claude Mouton announced a goal by "number 26, numéro vingt six . . . Matsss....Nasluuuund."

The winner of the 1988 Lady Byng Trophy played in Montreal until 1990 before deciding to return back to Europe. He spend the 1990-91 season in Lugano, Switzerland. Despite scoring 31 goals and 70 points in 42 games. After the season was over he rejoined the Swedish national team for a world championship gold medal. After his Swiss adventure he returned back to Sweden where he joined Malmo and helped them win two titles in three years (1992 and 1994).

In 1994 Mats won the Olympic Gold and shared the lead in the tournament with 7 assists. During the lockout season in 1994-95 Mats attempted a comeback in the NHL, jumping on a lucrative deal offered to him by Boston and played 34 games. The aging Naslund would score 8 goals and 22 points.

Mats finished his NHL career with 634 points (251 goals and 383 assists) in 651 games. He also had 280 points (123 goals and 157 assists) in 294 games in the Swedish Elite League. Mats holds the distinction of being one of very few Swedish players to have won the Swedish league championship, an Olympic Gold, a World championship and a Stanley Cup.



Pierre Mondou

This is Pierre Mondou. He won three Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens in the late 1970s. The native of Sorel, Quebec was a nice complimentary player with that dynasty team. Along with similar players like Doug Risebrough, Mario Tremblay, Rejean Houle, Doug Jarvis and Jimmy Roberts, Mondou was excelled as an extraordinary role player.

In junior hockey in Sorel and Montreal, as well as in the American Hockey League when he first turned pro, Mondou was an offensive star. Buried behind the likes of Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and Jacques Lemaire, Mondou became more of an all-round player with the Habs. He injected youth and life into the Habs dynasty, as well as four seasons with at least 29 goals. But he was better known as a support player who could add offense. He was versatile in that he could play either center or wing with equal ease. He excelled as a penalty killer, and, because of his skating ability, was often called upon to shut down the other team's top lines.

Unfortunately for Mondou his career came to a scary end at the age of 29. An errant high stick belonging to Hartford's Ulf Samuelsson clipped Mondou in the left eye. The incident happened as Mondou was scoring the game winning goal in overtime. Sadly it would the last goal Mondou would ever score, as he was forced to retire because of the injury.

In 548 regular season games Pierre Mondou scored 194 goals, 262 assists and 456 points while totalling 179 penalty minutes. He added another 17 goals and 45 points in 69 playoff games.

Mondou later served as a long time scout for the Canadiens.



Jean Gauthier

Jean Gauthier died February 20th, 2013. He was 75 years old.

Gauthier played 166 NHL games in the 1960s. He played with Montreal, Boston and Philadelphia, as well as with the New York Raiders of the WHA.

Gauthier was a rough and tumble defenseman who was no stranger to the penalty box. He won a Memorial Cup as a junior star with the Flin Flon Bombers and after apprenticing in the minor leagues, the Habs moved veteran Bob Turner to make room for Gauthier.

The move turned out to be a bit of a bust. After playing the 1962-63 season in Montreal, Gauthier was destined to play the rest of the Original Six days in the minor leagues with a few big league call-ups. At least he got called up during the 1965 playoffs and played a couple of games. That was good enough to get his name on the Stanley Cup!

Once the NHL expanded Gauthier, like so many career minor leaguers, found regular work with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1967-68. But he could not stick in the league beyond that season, returning to the minors while also making brief appearances in Boston and again in Montreal.

In 166 NHL games Jean Gauthier scored 6 goals and 29 assists.



Robert Fillion

This is 2 time Stanley Cup champion Robert Fillion. His name is inscribed on the Stanley Cup in 1944 as Bob as he was known as "Bobby" when he first broke into the National Hockey League. In 1946 it is inscribed as Robert.

Fillion played 327 games in the 1940s with Rocket Richard's Montreal Canadiens. He scored 42 career goals and 103 points, adding another 7 goals and 11 points in 33 playoff games.

The 5'10" 170lbs left winger out of Thetford Mines, Quebec was a junior teammate of Rocket Richard. But in the NHL he was turned into "a fine checker." In his best season he scored 30 points (1943-44 as a rookie). Two years later he posted a career best 10 goals.

"I had been a high scorer in junior but the Canadiens made me into a defensive forward, just like they did with Guy Carbonneau," he described many years later.

He may not have been a Picasso on the ice but Fillion was very much interested in artists of a different sort. He often visited artist studios while on road trips and took up painting himself! It may have been a bigger passion for him than hockey!

Bob, the brother of Marcel Fillion who played 1 game in the NHL, worked in public relations for years after retiring from hockey. He also went back home to work in a mine in Thetford Mines before retiring to Montreal's south shore. He was a regular guest at Montreal Canadiens games right through to his final season.



Patrick Lebeau

The parallels between the careers of brothers Patrick and Stephan Lebeau are pretty remarkable.

Both were undersized scoring sensations in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, putting up eye-popping numbers. Despite that they were never considered to be top prospects. Stephan was never drafted, and Patrick only in the late rounds, likely because by then Stephan established himself as a pro player. Both brothers would go onto amazing rookie seasons in the American Hockey League, both winning the Dudley Garrett Award as top rookie.

Heck, even when Patrick was recalled for his first NHL games in the 1990-91 season he was united with Stephan for two games. Patrick even scored his first NHL goal and his first NHL assist.

Unfortunately that is where the parallels more or less end. Stephane went on to play several seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and helped them win a Stanley Cup in 1993. Patrick would never play for the Canadiens again, and only would play in a handful of NHL games spread over several years. His lengthy career was spent jumping around minor leagues and Europe.

Lebeau's introduction to the international game actually began back in 1992 when he joined the Canadian Olympic team during the season. He joined the likes of Eric Lindros, Joey Juneau and Sean Burke in helping the Canadian team to a silver medal. 


Stephan Lebeau

An undersized centre from St-Jerome, Quebec, #47 Stephane Lebeau was junior scoring dynamo. Blessed with quickness and an amazingly accurate shot. In four seasons with the Shawinigan Cataractes he scored 281 goals and 580 points in 270 career games. In his last season of junior his scored a ridiculous 94 goals and 188 points.

You know what is even more ridiculous? Even with those gaudy offensive numbers, Lebeau was never drafted by a NHL team.

Sure, he was small and slow and did not pay much attention to the defensive side of the game. But with numbers like that, how could every NHL team not take at least a late round flyer on him?

The Montreal Canadiens invited him to camp and were smart enough to sign him to a pro deal. Perhaps the Habs were look to prop up their farm team in Sherbrooke. The Habs were hoping to inject some offensive life into their AHL team.

It obviously worked. As a rookie Lebeau scored 70 goals and 134 points in 78 games. He and Benoit Brunet formed a dynamic duo that, despite their lack of size, would not be denied their NHL chance.

But the Habs insisted Lebeau learn to play without the puck first. Lebeau was not the first offensive star out of the QMJHL to be expected to become a well rounded and defensively conscientious player. In fact Guy Carbonneau became perhaps the greatest defensive forward of all time.

Lebeau would join the Canadiens in 1989-90 and was utilized as a power play specialist while learning defense for 3 seasons. In 1992-93 the Canadiens needed an infusion of offense and new coach Jacques Demers. He capitalized on his teammates speed. He would headman the puck and trail in on the play. He exploded for a 31 goal and 80 point season, 4th best on the team. More importantly, he helped the Canadiens capture a surprised Stanley Cup in the spring of 93.

The writing was on the wall however. He only played in 13 of Montreal's playoff games, and contributed just 3 goals and 6 points.The next season he was traded to Anaheim and after another season he was out of the NHL altogether.

Lebeau extended his career by playing several seasons in Switzerland. Nowadays Lebeau is living in the Eastern Townships in Sherbrooke and runs the hockey program at private English school Bishop College in Lennoxville. He also has done some French media work concerning the Montreal Canadiens.



Gilbert Dionne

You could be forgiven if you thought Gilbert Dionne's nickname "King" came courtesy of his famous older brother. Marcel Dionne, best known as a Los Angeles King, was one of the greatest offensive players the game of hockey has ever seen. But in actuality, Gilbert's nickname came from a love of karaoke - specifically Elvis songs.

Gilbert may always be known as Marcel's little brother, but more than a few people have confused him as his son. Gilbert is 19 years younger. Being so much younger made Marcel more of a hero to look up to than a brother.

Gilbert may have caught a few breaks because of his famous brother and his last name, but he was hardly considered to be a top prospect much of his youth. He would follow his brother's move by playing in Ontario, learning English and developing his hockey game.

Gilbert slowly developed into a NHL prospect. The Montreal Canadiens, who passed on Marcel in favor of Guy Lafleur years early, took Gilbert in the 4th round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.

Gilbert caught on with the Habs in  1991-92. Skating with Shayne Corson and Mike Keane, he scored 21 goals in 39 games and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

“I would just go to the net and the puck would end up on my stick. I just kept it as simple as possible and it worked out for me,” he told The Hockey News.

The next year Gilbert would score 12 points in 20 playoff games to help the Habs win an unexpected Stanley Cup championship. In doing so he accomplished about the only thing older brother Marcel was not able to do - hoist the Stanley Cup high over his head.

“I had two tickets available and I asked Marcel and his wife to be there. He came to the game luckily. I kept waiting for my turn (to hoist the Cup on the ice after the game) and I said: ‘No, I’m going to wait until I’m at that section so I can raise the Cup in front of my brother,’” Gilbert recalled. “It was one of the best things ever and I just raised the Cup up and I almost dropped it because it’s about 35 pounds and throughout the playoffs I lost about 15 pounds. I raised it toward my brother and it was the highlight of my life to show him that, ‘Hey, we finally did it.’”

Unfortunately the rest of Dionne's tenure in Montreal was not so rosy. He had a bit of a love/hate relationship with fans as his game never really continued to develop after that great playoff. On Feb. 9, 1995, he was dealt to Philadelphia in a blockbuster along with Eric Desjardins and John LeClair for Mark Recchi and a third-round draft pick. 

Dionne would surprisingly only play 22 games in Philadelphia and 5 more in Florida before disappearing to the minor leagues. He would become a very popular player with the Cincinnati Cylones.

After retiring from hockey Gilbert purposely took a job outside of hockey. He settled in Tavistock, Ontario, working as a grain merchant for Parrish and Heimbecker.

“I made a decision to work outside of hockey. The best thing is to do a nine-to-five job so I can come home to my kids and my wife every night,” he said.



Alex Smart

Alex Smart certainly knew how to make a favorable impression on his coach and new teammates. In his first NHL game he became the first rookie to score a hat trick in his first NHL game.

On January 14th, 1943, the Montreal Canadiens hosted the Chicago Blackhawks. Playing on a line with Hall of Famers Buddy O'Connor and Gordie Drillon, Smart scored the final three Montreal goals in a 5-1 victory for the Habs. The first two goals were scored just 14 seconds apart.

Unfortunately, that alone was not enough to keep Smart in the NHL. Though he scored 2 more goals and 2 assists, he only played 7 more NHL games before all but disappearing as a tiny note in hockey history.

"People still remind me about (the hat trick)," said Smart in 1991. "I never though it could last this long."

Buddy O'Connor, Fabian Brunnstrum and Derek Stepan have since duplicated the feat.

Smart returned to senior hockey in Montreal until 1946 when he moved Ottawa. He helped the senior league Senators to the Allan Cup finals in 1948 and helped them win Canada's national amateur championship in 1949.

Alex Smart lived the rest of his life in Ottawa, working for Goodyear Tire for 40 years while also doing some scouting for the Los Angeles Kings.



Louis Berlinguette

Perhaps the original utility forward, Louis Berlinguette was a notable defensive forward but not a great offensive player. But because he was so reliable and valuable, he gained so much respect that he played in more games and seasons than any hockey player of his era.

Berlinguette played with the Montreal Canadiens from 1912 through 1924, playing with the team in both the NHA and then the NHL when it was formed in 1917. He played on top lines with the likes of Newsy Lalonde and Didier Pitre, but was never rewarded with great offensive output like his linemates. He totalled just 46 goals in 193 NHL games (plus another 19 in 100 in the NHA).

Berlinguette ended his career with single seasons with the Montreal Maroons and Pittsburgh Pirates before continuing on as an amateur. He finally left the ice after 1927.

Interestingly, much debate surrounded his name. Many sources mistakenly typed his name as Berlinquette. To complicate matters, his baptism certificate is in the name Berlinguet.


Jean Jacques Daigneault

J.J. Daigneault grew up in Mario Lemieux's shadow. Literally.

The two were born in Montreal just one week apart, and spent much of their youth and junior hockey careers together (along with defenseman Marc Bergevin, too).

"Mario's always been a great player," said Daigneault. "He knew right from the beginning right where he was going. He was always first in scoring on the team and in the league when I played with him."

Despite playing in front of all those drooling scout, it never really dawned on J.J. that he, too, might be able to make it to the NHL.

"I really didn't think about playing hockey professionally until I was about 16," he said. "The agents come out and they try and get you into it. Then try and get you interested by telling you that you're pretty good and how you might make it to the NHL."

Daigneault, a rushing defenseman in junior was a 5'11" and 180lb defenseman known for his offensive game more so than his physical or defensive game.

"If I wanted to stay on defense, I had to be able to do things that the bigger guys couldn't do. I had to be quick and agile so the big ones couldn't hit me. I had to be able to move the puck."

Daigneault really started catching the scouts' eyes after scoring 26 goals and 84 points in 70 games with Longueuil.

"I had a great year that year playing for Jacques Lemaire," he said. "In the final we played at the Montreal Forum. We played in front of 17,000 people. It's a big thrill to be 17 and play in front of all those people."

"A month after that, I was awarded the Emile "Butch" Bouchard Trophy for best defenseman."

Daigneault jumped to Dave King's Canadian Olympic team in 1984. He spent the season with fellow youngsters like Dave Gagner, Russ Courtnall and Kirk Muller in pursuit of their Olympic dream. Daigneault described his tutelage with the national team as "the best thing for me."

Mario Lemieux was the obvious choice as the top player chosen in the 1984 NHL draft. Nine picks later, his childhood friend Daigneault was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks.

J.J., the youngest of seven children of a Montreal taxi driver, certainly raised a few eyebrows after being drafted. He hobbled to the stage on crutches, as he had to have his knee surgically repaired. It goes down in Canucks history as a rather disheartening moment.

Mario, of course, went on to a career of epic proportions that all players dream of. Daigneault, well he had some more mixed results. Yes, his career spanned 899 career NHL games (plus 99 more in the Stanley Cup playoffs), but he was one of the most travelled players in NHL history.

Let's see if we can keep this all straight. Daigneault played for the Vancouver Canucks (1984–85 – 1985–86), Philadelphia Flyers (1986–87 – 1987–88), Montreal Canadiens (1989–90 – 1995–96), St. Louis Blues (1995–96), Pittsburgh Penguins (1995–96 – 1996–97), Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (1996–97 – 1997–98), New York Islanders (1997–98), Nashville Predators (1998–99), Phoenix Coyotes (1998–99 – 1999–2000), and Minnesota Wild (2000–01).

The only player to play with more teams is Mike Sillinger. Daigneault joins Michel Petit and Jim Dowd tied for second for most teams played with.

The Canucks probably rushed Daigneault to the NHL too early. He was a good skater with a good shot. But he tended to over-handle the puck rather than make safe and simple plays, often getting him into trouble. And defensively he had a tough time with the NHL's speed when it came to reading plays defensively.As he matured he began eliminating that from his game. He became a stabilizing defender later in his career, but his lack of size and physicality continued to limit his game.

His best years were spent at home in Montreal where sipped championship champagne from the Stanley Cup in 1993.



Gordie Poirier

This is Gordie Poirier. His NHL career consisted of 10 lone games with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1939-40 season. He picked up a lone assist in what at first glance was a pretty unimpressive career in hockey.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Poirier was from a tiny town of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, the same town more modern NHL players Barry Dean and Zack Smith are from. The town probably would never have existed if the Canadian Pacific Railway did not set up a construction camp in the area a couple of decades earlier. Even to this day the beautiful village is a very rural home to a small number of families.

Yet somehow this rural kid became a very worldly traveller. And it was thanks largely to hockey.

Details are sketchy, but Poirier did not stay in Maple Creek too long. At some point he moved to Montreal where he played junior hockey with several teams from 1931 through 1934 and senior hockey with the Montreal Sr. Canadiens in the 1934-35 season.

That's when things get interesting. Poirier spent the 1935-36 season in Italy, playing with a team called Diavoli Rosso Neri Milano. According to the Society for International Hockey Research his obituary said he coached Italy's national team in preparation for the 1936 Olympics as well!

From there he moved to Britain after being recruited by a fellow named Don Penniston. Poirier became a legendary player in the BNL. He played with the black and yellow Brighton Tigers before and after World War II, also appearing with Harrington Racers late in his career. He was elected to the British Hockey Hall of Fame in 1948, even though he did not hang up his skates until 1951!

Here is how he is remembered in Britain:

With his dark, dashing good looks and amazing hockey skills, Gordie was an immediate success and soon became the star of the Brighton Tigers. The crowds would scream the roof down as he scored one goal after another, leaving the opposing team players in total disarray. This was perhaps something to do with his ability to shoot a puck at a defending goal keeper at over 100mph. I mentioned he played in Britain pre and post World War II. He spent 7 seasons from 1939 through 1946 back in Canada where he was enlisted in the war effort. From 1941 forward he was stationed in Ottawa and played with several senior league teams.

But in the 1939-40 season he was based in Montreal, serving with the Royal Canadian Medical Corps. He starred with the senior team in St. Hyacinthe, playing on a line with brothers Tony and Albert Lemay (both of whom would also serve and play with Poirier in war efforts in Ottawa and star in Britain with the Wembley Lions).

But it was Poirier who caught the eye of the Montreal Canadiens. He signed on with the Habs in February, 1940, playing the 10 games.

His NHL career was not particularly noteworthy but his life was fascinating. After he hung up his skates in Britain he apparently returned to Canada and opened a restaurant and an import business. He passed away from a heart attack on May 25th, 1972. He was living in Montreal at the time.



Armand Mondou

Armand Mondou will always go down in NHL history as the answer to this popular trivia question: Who was awarded the NHL’s first penalty shot? He was stopped in Toronto on Nov. 10, 1934, by Maple Leafs goaler George Hainsworth.

Mondou played in 386 NHL games, all with Montreal, but he could never seem to settle on a jersey number. He wore 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 44, 64 and 66 in his career!

In addition, he was said to be one of the earliest users of the slap shot, many years before Boom Boom Geoffrion or Bobby Hull really popularized the tactic.

Mondou, a checker primarily but he could make smart plays with the puck, scored only 47 career goals. But the gritty left-winger played a key role in the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup victory in 1930, a huge upset of the defending champion Boston Bruins, and again in 1931. His speed and unselfish team play were two keys of any good player on any championship team in any era of hockey.

Mondou's career took a major blow in the 1937-38 season when he broke he leg in a collision with Boston's freight-train of a defenseman, Eddie Shore. He returned to play the better parts of two more seasons before leaving the NHL.

Armand Mondou passed away in 1976, just before his grandson Pierre Mondou played his first NHL game.


Clifford "Red" Goupille

This is Clifford "Red Goupille, a defenseman out of Trois Rivieres. He played 222 NHL games over parts of 8 seasons - all with the Montreal Canadiens.

From 1937 through 1942 Goupille matured into "a highly effective" defensive defenseman known to play the game physically. He was a bruiser who kept the opposition honest when it came to abusing his smaller teammates.

He was also known for a rather odd and rather ineffective superstition. He always put a bottle of Coke in his shoe, claiming it was a guarantee he would score that night. Too bad it did not work better. Goupille had 12 career goals in 222 games.

Goupille's NHL career came to an end 6 games into the 1942-43 season. He joined the Army to help Canada's efforts in World War II. He was stationed in Montreal for the rest of that season and played senior hockey. For the next two seasons there is no record of him playing hockey at all, almost certainly due to the military commitments.

Goupille returned to the ice in 1945, playing senior hockey first in Hull then in Sherbrooke. He hung up the blades for good in 1951.


Rod Lorrain

Rod Lorrain grew up playing hockey in Buckingham, Quebec before joining the Ottawa Lasalle Juniors in 1932-33. Lorrain teamed together with Polly Drouin to lead Ottawa to several strong seasons.

The duo were reunited in Montreal with the Canadiens. Drouin joined Montreal in 1935, but Lorrain did not join the Habs until 1937. Initially playing together on a line with Jack McGill, both players went on to solid careers in Montreal.

Lorrain, described as a "speedy but chunky winger" played regularly for Montreal for four season but in 1940 he left the team and became an amateur player again.

Interestingly, with the Habs desperate for wingers in the 1941-42 season, Lorrain returned to the professional ranks. Montreal signed him despite the fact that he was notably out of shape. As such, the Habs used him for just four more games. He spent the rest of the season playing in the AHL in Washington.

After a second season in Washington Lorrain again returned to amateur status until he hung up the skates for good in 1945.

Lorrain returned to the Buckingham area and became a local hockey coach. He passed away in 1980.


Bill Summerhill

This is Bill "The Thrill" Summerhill. I am making his nickname up, but it could have applied. He was described as "one of the fastest skaters in all of hockey" and "a fine playmaker who could also find the back of the net with regularity, especially in the minors."

Most of his career was spent in the minor leagues where he was an AHL all star. He also spent a couple of seasons playing senior hockey in Toronto while serving at an army base during World War II.

For all his prolific scoring exploits in the minors, Summerhill never made the same impact in the NHL. He played most regularly on a Montreal line with Polly Drouin and Herb Cain, but his career totals of 14 goals and 31 points are nowhere near as dominant as his minor league numbers.

Summerhill - whose real nickname was "Pee Wee" presumably because he was 5'9" tall - played 59 games (plus 3 playoff games) with the Montreal Canadiens over parts of 3 seasons in the late 1930s. Interestingly he wore 8 different uniform numbers in his time in Montreal.

He later played 13 more NHL games with the Brooklyn Americans in the 1941-42 season.



Leroy Goldsworthy

Leroy Goldsworthy played with 6 different NHL teams in the 1920s and 1930s. He never stayed in one spot too long, but he totalled 336 games played. He scored 66 goals, 57 assists and 123 points. He added 1 goal in 25 playoff games.

Throughout much of his career Leroy Goldsworthy was utilized as a checking forward, but he could score some goals too. His best stint came in Montreal in the 1934/35 and 1935/36 season. He scored 35 goals in 80 games over the two seasons.

Described as "a tireless worker whose strength was his consistency," Goldy found some magic in Montreal. Perhaps it was the number 9 jersey he wore nearly a decade before Rocket Richard arrived in Montreal. Then again, maybe not. He wore number 75 when he first arrived in Montreal from the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks.

Goldsworthy was a definite rarity in those early days of NHL history. He was a rare American born player. He was born in Two Harbours, Minnesota, though he was playing senior hockey in Edmonton by the time he turned professional.

Leroy Goldsworthy, a right winger who may have played some defense late in his career, played with the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and New York Americans.


Joffre Desilets

This is Joffre Desilets, one of the long forgotten NHL players. He played 192 games in the 1930s with Montreal Canadiens (3 seasons) and Chicago Blackhawks (2 seasons) before beginning a minor league vagabond life through various American cities and leagues. He also played with army teams during 1942 through 1944, though statistical records are very sketchy during his military service. Apparently he was based out in British Columbia, spreading his time in Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver and Vernon.

With his name you may think he was a true Flying Frenchman, but he was actually from Capreol, Ontario (20 miles northeast of Sudbury) and played his junior hockey in Stratford, Ontario. He came from a large family and was always happy to point out he had one brother named Romeo and one sister named Juliette. Another brother named Rolland was an international hockey vagabond, settling in South Africa where he helped introduced the game on ice.

"Dizzy," as Joffre was affectionately known, was an inseparable friend of Montreal teammate Polly "Daffy" Drouin. The two were known as "fun-makers." Sometimes their tomfoolery would get them in trouble. Like the night in Chicago in 1938 when Montreal's train took off without them and goaltender Wilf Cude. Those three were still in the train station, hamming it up with locals. They had to run down the tracks chasing the train while one of the staff radioed to stop the train!

In 192 NHL games Desilets scored 37 goals, 45 assists, and 82 points. He added 1 goal in 7 playoff games.



Georges Mantha

Georges Mantha, the brother of Hockey Hall of Famer Sylvio Mantha, played 498 regular season games in the NHL, all with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1930s. The winger had 89 goals and 191 points in that time. He added another 6 goals and 7 points in 33 Stanley Cup playoff games. He would be a part of Montreal's Stanley Cup championship teams in 1930 and 1931.

Blessed with blazing speed, Georges Mantha was described as a "whirlwind" of a player. Though never a big scorer, he was an effective scorer who also took a number of shifts on defense. He was very responsible defensively, and was mostly utilized as a checking forward.

Georges began his NHL career in 1928-29 but did little. In 1929-30 he wasn't Howie Morenz by any means, but he did get to play on his first Stanley Cup champion.

The next year he scored 11 goals as a substitute and added 5 more in the playoffs as the "Little Men of Steel" won their second straight Stanley Cup. That Montreal Canadiens team was a legendary one that had 4 Hall of Famers on it - Morenz, Aurel Joliat, George Hainsworth and brother Sylvio Mantha. Georges would never be a Hall of Famer. After a 1 goal season in 1932-33 he re-emerged as an offensive player through the next few years. In 1936-37 he had 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points. In 1937-38 he scored 23 goals and had 19 assists for 42 points, finishing 4th in NHL scoring.

He was injured much of 1938-39 and never was the same again. As one might expect, he was subpar in 1939-40 and in 1940-41 after 6 games he was sent to New Haven of the AHL, then the Habs sold him to Washington of the AHL. He retired in 1942.

Born in 1908, Georges Mantha died as the result of Alzheimer's disease on January 25th, 1990.



Walter Buswell

If I asked you to name all the captains in the history of the Montreal Canadiens, you would probably be hard pressed to named the captain of the 1938-39 team. Walter Buswell wore the "C" that season, placing him in history along side Rocket Richard, Doug Harvey, Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer and Bob Gainey as such honoured players in history.

Walter Buswell was a defenseman who broke into the NHL in 1932 after a fine career in senior hockey and a good year with the AHA's Chicago Shamrocks. It was when James Norris Sr. purchased a share in the Detroit Falcons in 1932-33 that he also purchased the Detroit franchise in the IAHL and the Chicago Shamrocks, which made Buswell property of the new Detroit NHL franchise.

He was fairly impressive in his first two seasons. Norris became undisputed owner of the newly named Detroit Red Wings in 1933-34, Detroit had a first place team that made it to the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Chicago Black Hawks.

Buswell was traded to Boston in the summer of 1935, and two days after the trade was traded to the Montreal Canadiens. Buswell had his best year in 1937-38 with 2 goals and 15 assists for 17 points. He was probably Montreal's steadiest defenseman in the late 1930s. He was steady and reliable in a period of Habs history that was anything but.

After the Canadiens finished last in 1939-40, Buswell was released. He played for the Joliette Cyclones in the Quebec League the next season and then coached junior hockey after that.

One junior team he coached was the Verdun Cyclones, and a goaler he coached for two seasons was a boy who would go on to have a Hall of Fame career and be on four Stanley Cup champions. Lorne "Gump" Worsley was a product of Walter Buswell's astute coaching.

Buswell was born in Montreal in 1907 and died October 16th, 1991.



Oleg Petrov

Remember this guy? It's Oleg Petrov, the first Russian trained player to play for the Montreal Canadiens.

Not that Petrov was the highest touted Russian player to graduate out of the old Soviet training of hockey. The Canadiens drafted Oleg 127th overall in the 1991 Entry Draft. He was playing with the famous CSKA Moscow team at the time, but he was far from a known player on this side of the Atlantic.

Petrov came over to North American in 1992, but the undersized winger did not stick with the Canadiens in his first four seasons. He was up and down between Montreal and the minor leagues. By 1996 he headed back overseas, to play in Switzerland (winning two scoring titles) and presumably never be heard from again.

But Oleg did come back, and he became a bit of a fan favorite in Montreal. In 2000 he returned and posted a career high 30 assists and 47 points. The following year he scored 24 goals. He developed really good chemistry with team captain and crowd favourite Saku Koivu. The tiny duo excited the Montreal faithful with their play.

Petrov got the fans out of their seats when he found a little bit of room in the neutral zone to start gaining some speed. He was a tricky skater with superb agility and quickness. But what really won him over in Montreal was his gritty and tireless work ethic. Being so small he did not win every battle for the loose pucks, but he gave it everything he had.

Petrov's offense dried up in what proved to be his final NHL season, 2002-03. At the trading deadline he was moved to Nashville for the final 17 games of his NHL career.

Petrov totalled 382 career NHL games, scoring 72 goals and 115 assists for 187 points. His hockey career was far from over though. He returned to Switzerland for several more seasons, and then joined Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL in 2007 for two final seasons.



Marty Burke

Like Cy Wentworth, Marty Burke very likely will never be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, because he focused strictly on playing defense. That's how it was, mostly, in the 1930s. Defenders like Burke just stayed back while the forwards strutted their stuff on offense. It was Burke's job to shut down such flashy attempts by the other team, usually in emphatic physical fashion.

Burke started his career with the Montreal Canadiens, but after just 11 games he was loaned to struggling Pittsburgh in the 1927-28 season. Burke and goaler Roy Worters were instrumental in leading the Pirates into the playoffs.

Burke returned to the Montreal the following season. He helped the great puck stopper George Hainsworth win the Vezina Trophy with 22 shutouts and an incredible 0.98 goals against average, but greater joy was upcoming. He and Sylvio Mantha anchored the Canadiens blueline as the Habs won two consecutive Stanley Cups. The Canadiens were nicknamed the "Little men of Steel" those two years, and Burke was just that.

He even played well in 1931-32, and the Habs looked as though they might win their third straight Cup, but injuries prevented the feat.

After a forgettable 1932-33 season both Burke and the Canadiens returned to form in 1933-34. Burke helped new goalie Lorne Chabot lead the Canadian Division in fewest goals given up, and finishing third in the Vezina race.

Burke was involved in a big trade after 1933-34 as he, Howie Morenz and Lorne Chabot went to the Chicago Blackhawks. Burke helped Chabot win the Vezina Trophy and helped Chicago finished second overall.

Frequent mention of his fine defensive support for Chabot finally got Burke some recognition. He was as effective the following year in front of rookie goaler Mike Karakas.

Burke began to slow down in 1936-37 and the Blackhawks plummeted to the cellar, and during the 1937-38 season, he was traded back to the Montreal Canadiens. But Burke's best days were behind him. He retired at season's end.

In 494 career NHL games, Marty Burke scored just 19 goals and 66 points. But he was a solid defensive defenseman who was a nice part of two Stanley Cup championships.


Ching Dheere

This is Marcel Albert "Ching" Dheere. He was a war-time fill in for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1942-43 season, playing a total of 11 games (scoring 1 goal and 3 points). Interestingly, in those 11 games he wore 4 different jersey numbers - 8, 18, 19 and 21.

Dheere himself would lose his NHL job to the war service. In 1944 and 1945 he served in World War II. He would never play again the NHL, though he would play professionally for six more seasons.

Ching Dheere hung up the skates in 1953. He would work with the Canadian National Railway as a switchman for 30 years.

Dheere passed away in 2002 at the age of 83. He had a short fight with cancer.


Smiley Meronek

This is William "Smiley" Meronek. He was a sensational hockey star in his native Manitoba. He moved to Verdun in 1937 and continued to star with the Maple Leafs of the QSHL, capturing the attention of the Montreal Canadiens.

Meronek agreed to a contract in both the 1939-40 and 1942-43 seasons. However in that 1943 season he would only play home games. He refused to travel with the Canadiens for road games due to his day job at a war plant in the city. Alex Smart was signed under the same circumstances at the same time.

All told, Smiley Meronek played parts of two NHL seasons, totalling 19 games. He scored 5 goals and 13 points.


Ray Getliffe

This is Ray Getliffe, pride of Galt, Ontario. He was a NHL regular from 1936 through 1939 with Boston and from 1939 through 1945 with Montreal. He was originally scouted by the New York Rangers, but never played for the Blue Shirts.

Getliffe was lucky to play at all. In 1933 he was in critical condition in hospital with a serious case of pneumonia.

Ray Getliffe made a brief appearance with Boston in 1935-36 and then became a regular on a line with Bill Cowley and Charlie Sands, and was second to Cowley as leading scorer for the Bruins in 1936-37. He combined with Dit Clapper and Cooney Weiland when Boston finished first and won the Stanley Cup in 1938-39.

Getliffe was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 1939-40 where he played for six years, being on two first place teams and another Cup winner. In his first two years with the Habs he played with Sands and Toe Blake. Playing with Elmer Lach and Joe Benoit in 1942-43, he scored 5 goals in a game against Boston.

Ray suffered a bad face cut in 1943-44 and missed several games. However, back in action again, he made this his best scoring year working on a line with Phil Watson and Murph Chamberlain, scoring 28 goals in the 50 game schedule and the Canadiens coasted to first place and won the Stanley Cup.

He played one more year on another first place team before retiring. He was actually traded by Montreal to Detroit in September 1945, but he decided to retire rather than move southward. He put on the stripes for the next two seasons, refereeing NHL games.

Getliffe, a left-winger, played in 393 regular-season games during his career, scoring 136 goals and adding 137 assists to go along with 250 penalty minutes.

It should also be noted that it was Getliffe who is responsible for Maurice Richard's moniker "the Rocket." Getliffe was in awe of Richard in practice, and was prompted to say "That kid can take off like a rocket!" The other players picked up on his comment right away, and the nickname stuck. Prior to that, Maurice's early nickname was "The Comet."

Getliffe would go on to become a legendary senior golfer in Canada. Getliffe had a keen eye for talent on the links as well as at the rinks. In 1960 he was quoted as saying "I've just seen a kid who is going to become the greatest golfer in the world." Getliffe had just finished watching a young Jack Nicklaus.



Polly Drouin

This is Polly Drouin. You can tell just by looking at this Beehive photo that he was a tiny hockey player. The native of Verdun stood just 5'7" and 160lbs.

From 1935 through 1941 Paul-Emile Drouin skated with the Montreal Canadiens. He was actually originally property of the St. Louis Eagles (who, one season after transferring from Ottawa, folded). The Habs grabbed the 19 year old in the subsequent dispersal draft.

Over the next season Drouin struggled for ice time. He was bouncing around between the Habs and the minor leagues. When with the Habs he was strictly a support player, never scoring more than 7 goals in a single season. He was seemingly on the sidelines a lot, often nursing an injury. In a total of 156 career NHL regular season games he scored 23 goals and 73 points.

Drouin's professional hockey career came to an end due to two years of military service in World War II. During that time he played with Ottawa based military teams, helping lead the Ottawa Commandos to the 1943 Allan Cup championship. Upon his release from the military Drouin remained in amateur hockey for several years where he was known as an offensive dynamo.

Drouin was also a heck of a pitcher, playing in many baseball leagues in the summer time. He remained in Ottawa the rest of his life, passing away in 1968.



Bill Taugher

Kingston, Ontario's Bill Taugher was a long time goaltending hero with the Buffalo Bisons of the IHL in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Though details are very sketchy, it appears he also played a single NHL game really early in his game. I say appear because not every source credits him for 60 minutes played with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1925-26 season. Those that do agree he surrendered three goals in a loss.

Which game that would have been remains a mystery though. My search suggests Herb Rheaume and Alphonse Lacroix played in the Habs net in the season following the loss of Georges Vezina.

Taugher may have been an emergency replacement. In the 1925-26 season Taugher was playing junior with the Kingston Frontenacs. In fact, Taugher helped Kingston reach the Memorial Cup finals that year.

He signed pro with Hamilton Tigers of the Can-Pro league. Two years later he signed on with the Buffalo Bisons where he starred for 7 seasons. He wound up his career with a season split between Rochester and Cleveland, both of the IHL as well.

Life was not all fun and games for Taugher. He suffered a back injury vs London (IHL) on March 20, 1936 that left him paralyzed. He actually resumed walking in 1942, but his health failed him again in the fall. He required brain surgery. The Society for International Hockey Research suggests the brain injury may have been from an old hockey injury. The Windsor Daily Star newspaper archives suggest it was from a puck to the head some fourteen years earlier.

Whether it was or not remains a mystery to me at this time, but I do know a few months later, on February 25, 1943, Bill Taugher passed away from complications of a brain tumor. Whether the two brain injuries were related or actually one also remains a mystery to me.



Gerald "Stub" Carson

This is Gerald "Stub" Carson, brother of fellow NHLers Frank and Bill.

Born in Parry Sound, Ontario, "Stub" was a sensational amateur player with the Grimsby Peach Kings. He turned pro in 1927-28 with the Philadelphia Arrows of the Can- Am League. The following year this swift skating defenseman known to enjoy the physical game was in the National Hockey League.

Carson joined the Montreal Canadiens that season, although he also spent part of the season as loaned player to the New York Rangers. He returned to Montreal for the 1929-30 season.

That second season was one to remember for the man they called "Stub." He was a significant contributor to the Habs blue line, earning lots of playing time. He helped Les Canadiens win their second Stanley Cup championship (in the NHL) that season.

For whatever reason that was not enough to keep Carson in the NHL. For the next three seasons he was dispatched to the Providence Reds of the CAHL (forerunner of the NHL).

Carson returned to Montreal in 1932 and remained with the Habs through the next four seasons. He suffered a serious off-season knee injury in the summer of 1935, causing him to miss the entire 1935-36 season.

Carson successfully returned for one more NHL season in 1936-37, though the Canadiens had traded him. Fortunately for Carson he did not have to move very far, as they traded him across town to the arch rival Montreal Maroons.

Gerry "Stub" Carson played a total of 261 NHL games scoring 12 goals and 11 assists. He played 22 playoff games with no points.

When Carson retired he returned and worked as a salesman for the Don Brewing Company, just as he did each summer break during the hockey season. He died prematurely in 1956. He was just 53 years old.

The Bobby Orr Hall of Fame is a hockey museum in Orr's home town of Parry Sound. The museum has also taken to inducting other area legends, and in 2005 they included Gerald Carson, saying "he was a tower of strength on the ice and if necessary would hit his opponents hard, but cleanly. He acquired only 205 penalty minutes in his NHL career. He never cared who scored the goals. Preventing the opposition from scoring and feeding the puck to the slick, stick handling forwards was his job on defense. Just as long as they scored, he was satisfied. He would, on occasion, zoom down the ice, leaving everyone on the opposing team behind him and if a goal wasn't scored, would return to his own end just as quickly."



Guy Lafleur

The man known as "The Flower" entered the National Hockey League in 1971 under perhaps the most intense pressure of any projected- superstar.

By 1971 the Montreal Canadiens had a long established history of French Canadian superstars. Names like Morenz, Richard and Beliveau had all set the standards, and with Beliveau retiring in 1971 Montreal was looking for a new hero to take the proverbial torch.

Enter Guy Lafleur.

After two outstanding seasons with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, one of which saw him score 130 goals and add 79 assists for a then-record total of 209 points, Montreal fans expected Lafleur to score at will in the NHL right from the get-go.

However it did not happen.

Lafleur had respectable totals in his rookie year, but respectable was not what management and fans had hoped for. With 29 goals and 64 points in his rookie season, people said "just wait for next year." Next year his totals slipped to 28 goals and 55 points, and the year after that 21 goals and 56 points. Meanwhile Marcel Dionne, another French Canadian player drafted 2nd behind Lafleur, was tearing up the league with Detroit.

In his fourth season " The Flower" blossomed into the scoring machine everyone knew he was capable of. Lafleur, who wore a helmet his first three years but removed it at the beginning of year four, erupted 53 goals and 119 points.

That was just the beginning of an era where the Canadiens were the dominant team in pro hockey, and Lafleur eclipsed Bobby Orr as the game's dominant player. He would go onto lead the league in scoring the next three years in a row, and recorded an amazing 6 consecutive years with at least 50 goals. Twice he was named as the NHL MVP and three times he was awarded the Pearson Trophy. He was the most exciting player in the second half on the 1970's, and helped lead the Habs to five Stanley Cup Championships, including four straight to end the decade.

His blazing speed and long flowing hair combined with his puck wizardry placed him first in Montreal Canadiens all time scoring and second on Montreal fan's all time favorite list, behind the immovable Rocket Richard, of course. He was one of the rare players that got you out of your seat almost every time he touched the puck. And to witness him score a goal was more often than not an event onto itself.

The Canadiens went through a transitionary period immediately following their dynasty at the end of the 1970s. The team became extremely focused on defensive hockey, and Lafleur's style did not fit in well. Injuries also slowed Lafleur.

After being at odds with the coaching staff, Guy decided to retire after 19 games in 1984-85.

Following the mandatory waiting period of three years, Guy was an obvious election into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.

After taking his place as a legend of hockey in hockey's famous shrine, Lafleur made a surprising return to hockey in 1988, first with the New York Rangers and later in the city where his hockey career started so many years ago with Quebec. Perhaps one of his finest moments in his comeback was his first game back at the Montreal Forum, where he played so brilliantly for 13 and a half seasons. After a boisterous reception, Lafleur had the best game of his second career, notching 2 goals.

Guy retired permanently at the end of the 1990-91 season after 1 year in New York and 2 years in Quebec City. In total he brought his numbers to 1126 games, 560 goals, 793 assists and 1353 points.

Almost all of those points were scored with a flare of excitement that few other men in National Hockey League history have ever delivered better than Guy "The Flower" Lafleur.


Rocket Richard

The Stare.

The stare was Rocket Richard's trademark. When he came at a goalie with his eyes lit up, the opposition was terrified. Glenn Hall once was quoted sharing his memories of Rocket Richard - "What I remember most about the Rocket were his eyes. When he came flying toward you with the puck on his stick, his eyes were all lit up, flashing and gleaming like a pinball machine. It was terrifying."

One of the games greatest goal scorers, he recorded a then-NHL record with 544 regular season goals. That record stood until 1963 when it was surpassed by Gordie Howe. He was also the first to score 50 goals in one season, and the only player to have reached that figure in a 50 game season.

Rocket Richard did everything by instinct and brute strength. He would run, not glide, down the ice and cut fearlessly to the slot. Some describe him as the greatest opportunist the game has ever known. He was probably the greatest goal scorer from the blue line in.

Richard's fierce temper and dedication were also hallmarks of his. He got into frequent scraps with players and officials. His suspension by NHL president Clarence Campbell in 1955 for attacking a Boston player with his stick and punching a linesman precipitated the now famous riot in the Montreal Forum.

Winning at all costs best sums up Richard's approach to hockey.

In a playoff game, the Bruins Leo Labine knocked Richard unconscious and doctors said he was done for the series. Richard refused to be hospitalized and returned to the game as the teams battled. Rocket Richard scored the game winning goal.

But the legend of Rocket Richard almost never came into fruition. Early in his career he missed a lot of time with various ailments such as a broken wrist and badly sprained ankle. Too injury prone they said. The Canadiens supposedly came close to trading the young firecracker, reportedly to the New York Rangers. Thankfully they didn't!

In addition Maurice initially started on the left wing, where he struggled in comparison to what he would do on the right wing. Once he changed sides, he began achieving great success. However his early accomplishments came during the second World War.

"He was a wartime hockey player," onetime Canadiens general manager Frank Selke once told a reporter. "When the boys come back, they said, they'll look after Maurice. Nobody looked after Maurice. He looked after himself. When the boys come back, they said, they'll catch up with him. The only thing that caught up with Maurice is time."

Even in these tough early days, you could tell Maurice was special. The local media had dubbed him The Comet. Later teammate Ray Getliffe, in an intra-squad match during a practice, was wowed by Richard and compared him to a rocket. The name stuck.

Things really turned around in 1943-44. Perhaps it was the switch to the right wing, or perhaps a superstitious switch in number. Richard asked coach Dick Irvin Sr. if he could change his number from 15 to nine to mark the occasion of the birth of his first daughter - 9lb Huguette. Richard scored 32 goals -- the fourth-highest total in Canadiens history at that time -- in his first full season. Combined with rookie Bill Durnan in goal, the Canadiens re-emerged as a top team. Richard added 12 more goals in the playoffs and the Canadiens took their first Stanley Cup since 1931. In one game in the final series against Toronto, Richard scored all Montreal's goals in a 5-1 victory

50 Goals in 50 Games

1944-45 was the Rocket's greatest season. Richard raced through the 50 game schedule at an incredible goal-per-game pace, becoming the first player to score the magical 50 goal total. He is the only player to do it in a 50 game schedule.

Rocket's amazing drive for 50 goals in 50 games is considered to be perhaps the greatest achievement in the history of hockey. Critics argue that the League at that point was watered down by the World War, but it remains among the greatest achievements in professional sports.

The eyes of the world were focused in on Rocket as he chased down what once seemed unthinkable. In game number 48 he scored goal number 49. In the 49th game Montreal easily defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, yet somehow Rocket was blanked. That left him only one last chance to make 50 in 50. The final game of the season was in Boston at the dreaded Boston Garden. Montreal won 4-2 and Rocket managed to hit the twine behind Bruin goalie Harvey Bennett for his 50th goal that season! That amazing feat would not be equaled until 1980 when Mike Bossy would score 50 goals in the first 50 games of an 80 game schedule.

Richard and the Canadiens didn't sip from the Stanley Cup that season, but they did the following year. Richard "slumped" down to 27 goals but erupted for a league high 7 playoff goals in 9 games as the Habs won their second Cup under Richard's firepower.

Despite twice leading the NHL in goal scoring in the regular season and some fine playoff performances, the Habs failed to win another Cup until 1952-53. By this time the Habs were just establishing themselves as the most dominant team in NHL history, and were just a couple years way from a 5 year reign as Cup champions.

The Infamous Richard Riot

Perhaps the Canadiens could have won a Cup in 1954-55 that would have been the first of 6 in a row, but they suffered a daunting blow when the NHL unthinkably suspended their most dynamic superstar for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. Years later, the infamous 'Richard Riots' are stuff of legend in hockey history.

A common tactic that teams used to keep him off the score sheet was to simply sucker him into a fight. Richard was not one to back down to anyone, and sometimes he let his anger get the best of him. He was suspended numerous times by NHL President Clarence Campbell for violent slashing penalties and abusive behavior towards referees.

His most memorable suspension, and one of the most traumatic incidents in NHL history occurred in Montreal in 1955. The "Richard Riot" came about after an incident on March 13, in a game between Richard's Canadiens and the Boston Bruins. Boston defenseman Hal Laycoe cut Richard over the eye with a high stick and drew a delayed penalty. Once the play was stopped, Richard showed the referee that he was cut and promptly went after Laycoe, hitting him with his stick. Richard was pulled off of the Bruins defenseman twice, but he broke free, picked up another stick off the ice and started attacking Laycoe again. Linesman Cliff Thompson finally was able to pin Richard down on the ice. When they let Richard back on his feet, he was still mad as hell and wanted a piece of anyone he could find. Unfortunately, Thompson was the closest one around. Richard struck him twice before anyone could intervene.

President Clarence Campbell had given Richard many suspensions and fines in the past for actions such as this, but this time it seemed as if he said enough was enough. Campbell suspended the Rocket for the remainder of the regular season and all of the playoffs.

Fans in Montreal were shocked by Campbell's decision. The suspension was thought of as an extreme blow to the team's chances of taking the Stanley Cup away from the Detroit Red Wings. Canadiens supporters threatened both the league offices and Campbell himself. However, Campbell was a stubborn man who was not intimidated easily. Despite pleas by both the mayor and police not to attend, Campbell showed up at his usual seat for the next Montreal home game. He was bombarded with rotten fruit and vegetables throughout the early portion of the game, and by the time Detroit took a 4-1 lead, the crowd had enough. A group of fans started to make their way towards Campbell's section. The police had to step in and try to keep the peace. All of a sudden, someone threw tear gas right next to the president's seat and all hell broke loose. The fire marshal announced that the game must be stopped for fear of a disastrous fire, and Campbell announced that the game was to be forfeited to the Red Wings. A mob of angry fans took off down St. Catherine Street, throwing stones, breaking store windows and looting shops. Over 60 people were arrested during the melee, and Richard had to plead for calm on Montreal radio stations in order for people to settle down.

This was one of the most severe penalties ever handed out in the NHL, and it was especially painful for Richard. At the time he was leading the league in points and was a shoo-in to win the Art Ross Trophy. The Art Ross was the one trophy that Richard desperately wanted in his career, but, because of his suspension, he lost probably his best chance to win it. Finally, on the last day of the regular season, Richard's teammate Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion moved ahead of him in the scoring race, taking the Art Ross from the Rocket by a single point. The fans actually booed Geoffrion for surpassing the Rocket.

The next year, the Canadiens began their record string of five consecutive Stanley Cups, but the torch was already being passed from Richard to the next great Canadiens star -- Jean Beliveau.

Richard was injured for most of his last three seasons. The injuries slowed the Rocket so that he was no longer able to accelerate on skates as he once did.
Perhaps sensing that the Habs dynastic reign would be coming to an end, Richard made the tough decision to retire following the 1960 Cup victory. By this point he wasn't the warrior he once was, but was still number one in the hearts of the fans.

Richard ended his career of 18 years playing 978 games, scoring 544 goals, assisting on 421 more for 965 points. He also accumulated 1285 penalty minutes and 8 Stanley Cup rings. He had a then-record 82 playoff goals in 133 games, plus 126 points and another 188 PIM. The 14 time all star also won one Hart Trophy.

He was only a hockey player often preached Richard. However he was for more than that as the Riot attests. He was an absolute hero to French Canadiens in particular. Some suggest it is more than just coincidence that tension between French and English in Quebec coincided with Richard's presence. Not that he ever did anything to promote or deny any Quebecois movement - he was very careful not to get involved - but he remained the hero. And many Quebecois would employ a similar fierce pride and win at all costs attitude in their political endeavors/

"He carried the flag for an entire population -- and that's pretty heavy," the Gazette's Red Fisher said. "He felt he had to live up to that responsibility and he did it the way he knew how -- by scoring goals and responding to every challenge on the ice."

Richard always remained number one with the fans, and likely always will be. In 1995, some 35 years after he last played and in front of a sold-out stadium of fans - many of whom too young to have ever seen Richard play - gave Richard the longest standing ovation in hockey history. It was a sad day as the Canadiens were closing the Cathedral of Hockey - The Montreal Forum. In typical Habs class, they brought out all the old legends in a torch passing ceremony - to symbolize the passing of greatness from the old building to the new one. A tearful Richard stole the show.

A couple of years later Richard came down with an inoperable form of cancer of the abdomen.

The scare moved the Canadiens outgoing president Ronald Corey, who grew up idolizing the Rocket, to push for the creation of the Maurice Richard Trophy for the league's top goal-scorer. The trophy was granted, forever immortalizing Richard.

On May 27th, 2000, Rocket Richard lost his battle with cancer. The celebration of his life that shortly followed was unmatched in Canada, and in very few places around the world. A state funeral was held for a hockey player. Tens of thousands of people - one estimate had over 50000 a day - lined up to pay their respects to Richard at center ice of the Montreal Molson Center - the new Forum. The actual funeral was broadcast nationwide and throughout the world. It was eerily similar to the passing of Princess Diana just a short time earlier.

He was just a hockey player, but no one hockey player meant so much to so many people on such a personal level.


Jean Beliveau

Mention the name Jean Beliveau, and so many images come to mind. His size, his skills, his class - he was the perfect hockey player and an even better person. He's one of the few players that seems to have transcended the game itself, particularly in his native Quebec.

"Le Gros Bill" (Jean was nicknamed after a French folk hero) was the centerpiece of the mighty Montreal Canadiens dynasty that accumulated 10 Stanley Cups during his extraordinary reign. Five of those championships came with him serving as captain - no other man has captained his team to more Stanley Cups. Twice voted the NHL's MVP, he was a First All Star in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960 and 1961. He was the scoring champ in 1956 and was the first recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs in 1965. He accumulated 507 goals, 712 assists for a point total of 1219 in 1125 games, all with Les Habitants. He racked up 176 more points in 162 playoff games.

Most "experts" agree that Beliveau is one of the top ten players in hockey history. He is also almost universally regarded as one of the top three centers in NHL history - along with Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Mario Lemieux is most often compared to Jean, and it is a very accurate assessment. That statement alone gives younger fans an idea of just how Le Gros Bill was. Like Mario, Big Jean was an almost unseen blend of grace and power. He had the body of a giant, yet was such a gentleman. He could use his physical gifts to dominate a game, but more often than not relied on his skill and smarts.

Wild Bill Eznicki, one of the most physical players of his era, recalled what it was like to attempt to knock down Beliveau: "It was like running into the side of a big oak tree. I bounced right off the guy and landed on the seat of my pants."

His uncanny physical gifts weren't his only blessing on the ice. He was a great skater - deceptively fast due to his long stride. He was a puckhandling wizard with a great knack for goal scoring. He was a majestic player known for his crisp passes and laser like shot.

Beliveau's journey to Montreal was one of the most interesting in pro sports history. The Canadiens purchased an entire hockey league in order to get him. The Habs held Jean's negotiating rights, but he refused to sign with them, preferring to stay in his hometown of Quebec City where he already was a legend with the junior team and was being paid big money to play as a supposed amateur in the Quebec Senior League. In fact many reports suggest he was being paid more money than any professional of the day, including Gordie Howe and Rocket RIchard! But moreover, Jean felt a great deal of loyalty to the Quebec Aces and the people of Quebec City, and just wasn't quite ready to leave yet. He was treated like royalty, and he wanted to stay to repay his debt of gratitude.

However the Canadiens had just won their first Stanley Cup since 1946 in 1953 and they wanted to inject some of their top junior prospects in order to get them over the hump known as the dynastic Detroit Red Wings of the 1950s. Dickie Moore and Boom Boom Geoffrion were two key additions, but the graceful giant Beliveau was a must have as far as Frank Selke was concerned. He went to great lengths to ensure he could get Beliveau in a Habs jersey. The Canadiens purchased the whole league and turned the league professional just to get Beliveau in a Habs jersey! Beliveau could have played in the amateurs forever but once he became a professional he had to play with Montreal. By turning the whole league professional, Beliveau had to travel down the highway and lace up for Montreal.

It was money well spent for the Montreal Canadiens, and hockey fans everywhere. Success wasn't immediate though. He struggled through injuries in his rookie season and the Habs fell in the Stanley Cup finals in each of Beliveau's first two years.

But by 1955-56, Beliveau and the Habs arrived. Beliveau seemingly took the torch from Rocket Richard's hands and led the Habs to their first of 5 consecutive Stanley Cups. En route, Beliveau scored a league high 47 goals and 88 points in the regular season, plus 12 goals and 19 points in 10 post season games. It was one of the greatest seasons by any individual in hockey history.

The Canadiens owned the remainder of the decade. Beliveau was of course a huge part of what many consider to be the greatest team in NHL history. He never quite duplicated his great 55-56 season, though came close in 1958-59 when he again lead the league with 45 goals in just 64 games, plus 91 points. While the Habs of course won the Cup that year too, Jean was only able to play in 3 games (accumulating 5 points) due to injuries.

The 1960s have been termed The Forgotten Decade by Montreal Canadiens decades. Rocket Richard had retired at the beginning of the decade, and the Canadiens got off to a slow start in terms of championships. But by the end of the decade Jean led the Habs to 5 Stanley Cups in 7 years (including 1971).

5 championships in 7 seasons has earned the Toronto Maple Leafs of the 1940s and the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s dynastic status, but that has eluded the Habs of the 60s. Perhaps that was because Canada's other team - the Toronto Maple Leafs - did so well and it is remembered their decade. And despite great peformances from Jean, Geoffrion, Henri Richard and many Canadiens, that team seemed to lack that one iconic attraction that captured the Quebec fans - like Rocket Richard of the 1950s and Guy Lafleur of the 1970s.

That 1971 Stanley Cup was special. The Chicago Blackhawks were favored to win, yet somehow a combination of the old guard and some of the young guns of the 1970s dynasty teamed together to win a surprise Cup. It was a perfect moment for Jean to ride out into the sunset. He retired at the end of the playoffs.

Beliveau achieved all of this despite some major obstacles. He had to play under the shadow of Rocket Richard, something which became even more difficult once Richard slowed and retired and Jean became the man known as Richard's "replacement." He faced constant criticisms because of the comparisons to Richard. No matter how many Cups Beliveau could deliver, there was no replacing the Rocket of course. Plus he was criticized because of his status as the most talked about junior player in history at the time, plus his battles with injuries over the years.

One of the biggest obstacles he had was his heart. No one ever questioned his desire, but his heart was diagnosed as being too small for his gigantic body. Doctors proclaimed that it was amazing that Beliveau could perform as an athlete. But perform he did, and at a level few others have attained. His body obviously learned how to cope under such athletic stress. Basketball players Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis died on the court with a very similar ailment. Other than some occasional fatigue, Beliveau was unaffected. Actuality

Beliveau had a sometimes rocky relationship with the fans and media over his playing days, but in retirement he has become even more legendary. For many years he continued to work as an executive for the Habs and for Molsons. He has this uncanny charisma that not even Wayne Gretzky has - he just has this way of making whoever he is talking to - no matter if it is the Prime Minister or his garbage man - feel like he is the most important person at that particular time. He genuinely cares.

He was a master of public relations, always knowing how to give the public exactly what they wanted.. Beliveau would serve with 8 major corporations, and reluctantly had to turn down opportunities to become a senator and governor general of Canada. He opted not to go to Ottawa as he felt he had to stay home and help raise his daughter's children, who lost their father, a Quebec police constable, to suicide.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau perhaps said it best about Jean Beliveau:

"Rarely has the career of an athlete been so exemplary. By his courage, his sense of discipline and honour, his lively intelligence and finesse, his magnificent team spirit, Beliveau has given new prestige to hockey."



Art Gagne

Art Gagne was a well travelled, 5-foot-7, 160-pound right winger. Described as a scrappy forward, Gagne was best known for playing in Montreal in the late 1920s alongside linemates Howie Morenz and Aurele Joliat. He also played in Ottawa and had brief stops in Boston and Detroit.

The Ottawa born hockey star headed west to start and finish his hockey career. In 1920-21 Gagne joined the Edmonton Eskimos, of the WCHL not the CFL. By 1923 he was traded to the Regina Capitals for Spunk Sparrow. He was soon traded back to Edmonton with none other than Eddie Shore for a couple of guys named Joe McCormick and Bob Trapp.

By 1926 the 29 year old joined the Montreal Canadiens. He was one of nine new faces brought in to help out the Habs. He was described as a sensational star from Western Canada, and the best of the nine newbies which also included Gizzy Hart, Ambrose Moran, Athur Gauthier, Peter Palangio, Carson Cooper, and Léo Lafrance.

Gagne found a home on the greatest line in hockey, helping him fulfill his advanced billing. In the 1927-28 season he scored 20 goals and 30 points in 44 games. He ranked 6th in the entire league in both goals and points that season.

Gagne lasted three seasons in Montreal and another couple in Ottawa, plus the two brief spots in Boston and Detroit.

All told the shifty but temperamental winger scored 67 goals and 100 points in his 228 game NHL career. The pepperpot accumulated 257 career penalty minutes.

In 1932 Gagne returned to west to where it all started, re-joining Edmonton Eskimos where he teamed well with the great Duke Keats. He later coached in Edmonton and with the Seattle Seahawks of the NWHL, not the NFL.



Johnny Matz

Most sources say Johnny Matz was born in Omaha, Nebraska way back in 1891. The Society for International Hockey Research suggests he was actually born in Casper, Wyoming. Either way Johnny Matz was one of the earliest American born players in the National Hockey League.

Matz, who was raised and learned the game in Alberta, played one season with the Montreal Canadiens in 1924-25. He scored just two goals and 5 points in 30 games. Hints as to what type of player he was are very few and far between. Two sources refer to him as a colourful play.

At the age of 33 years he was hardly a rookie that season with the Habs. He had long played in Western Canada with several teams in Edmonton, most notably the WCHL Eskimos. He also played with the Saskatoon Shieks and Moose Jaw Maroons as well as stops in the British Columbia towns of Grand Forks and Rossland. He was always one of the top players on every Western team he played on.

Statistics are sketchy at times, leaving question marks as to whether Matz was even playing, especially pre-1920. We do know he enlisted with the Canadian military in 1918 to help in Canada's efforts in World War I.



Mike McMahon, Sr.

Mike McMahon Sr. played just 57 games in his NHL career. The vast bulk of that came in his only full campaign, 1943-44, when he was essentially a war fill-in, as many NHLers enlisted for service in World War II.. Listed at 5'9" and 218lbs, McMahon played in 42 games that season, scoring 7 goals and 24 points. He added another goal and three points in 8 playoff games, helping the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup.

McMahon, a Quebec Senior League stalwart, was an adventurous sort. He made the opposition feel quite uncomfortable, as his career 132 penalty minutes suggested. But he also made his own goaltender uncomfortable. Bill Durnan shared this memory of McMahon in Stan and Shirley Fischler's book Heroes and History:

"Mike McMahon, a rolypoly who would scare the hell out of me whenever he played the point; I always expected the other team to jab the puck away from him and come in on me all alone."

Once the war was over and NHL rosters were at full power once again, McMahon found himself mostly playing in the American Hockey League until his retirement in 1949. He became a self-employed welder after leaving the ice.

Mike McMahon Sr. died on December 3rd, 1974. Mike's son Mike Jr. also played in the National Hockey League, playing in 224 games in the 1970s.


Leo Lamoureux

Leo Lamoureux was a defenseman with the Montreal Canadiens from 1942 through 1947. Born in Espanala, Ontario but raised in Windsor, Leo was part of Montreal's Stanley Cup championship teams in 1944 and 1946.

In the book Heroes and History by Stan and Shirley Fischler, Habs goaltending great Bill Durnan reflected back on Leo, describing him as "a real character."

"Leo was a worry wart; if something was going to happen, it would be to him. He was also always in and out of mischief along with his pal Murph Chamberlain. They gave (coach Dick) Irvin so many headaches between them that Dick actually missed them once they were gone. Irvin used to say, 'Geez, if we could only get some guys on this team who could get in trouble like those two we'd be alright."

Lamoureux was certainly a well travelled hockey player, bouncing around various Ontario senior teams, down to Washington in the AHL and even in Great Britain for a season before joining the Habs full time in 1942. A converted center, Lamoureux was described as a crafty defenseman, adding some offensive spark. He was also played the game tough while defending his own zone, making life unpleasant for oncoming attackers.

Though his NHL days were over by 1947, Lamoureux enjoyed a lengthy minor league and senior league career through to 1957.

He turned to coaching after that, but he passed away mid-season while coaching the Indianapolis Chiefs of the International Hockey League. He had to leave the bench in November as a case of acute hepatitis hospitalized him. He died on January 11th, 1961. He was just 45 years old.

In memoriam, the IHL created the Leo Lamoureux Trophy to be handed out to that league's leading scorer.


Lyle Odelein

Lyle Odelein was not a flashy player, adding very little offense or finesse. But the native of Quill Lake, Saskatchewan was a player every fan and especially every player and coach could not help but appreciate.

"Lyle was a great team player," said Rejean Houle, president of the Canadiens' Alumni Association. "Guys always knew he had their back if there was a tough situation. It's a nice feeling for guys to know there is always someone there and ready to help."

This defensive defenseman showed up to compete every shift, every night. He started out more as a rugged presence, dropping the gloves often (though he was not a great fighter by any means) and throwing hard hits. But he worked hard at his game and became a valuable depth defender and, as one reporter put it, "a classic overachiever."

Odelein matured into a solid rearguard. For all his raucous physical play, he was very calm with the puck on his stick and made strong outs. He knew how to play within his limitations. He as an average skater at best, so he played a very conservative game. That made him reliable in the defensive zone, and, outside of an average shot from the point, a non-factor in the offensive zone. That being said, Odelein did have magical night in Montreal. On February 20th, 1994 Odelein matched Doug Harvey's team record for defensemen with 5 assists in the same game. A couple of weeks later he somehow recorded a hat trick against St. Louis.
The Montreal Canadiens drafted Lyle Odelein from the Moose-Jaw Warriors in the seventh round (141st overall) of the 1986 Entry Draft. He scored his first NHL goal on December 19, 1991 at Chicago.
Odelein, who was most often paired with Mathieu Schneider in Montreal,, not only was an essential component for the Canadien's Stanley Cup winning team in 1992-93, he also played in 83 games and led the Canadiens with a plus 35 rating. The next season, he posted career highs in goals - 11, assists - 29, points - 40, power play goals - 6 and . He also had a career high 276 penalty minutes, leading the Habs. That was not unusual. He did that 6 seasons in a row from from 1990-91 to 1995-96.

His penchant for fighting and physical play was definitely brought about by his rural Saskatchewan upbringing. They make hockey players tough in places like Quill Lake.

"Well, when we played minor hockey as kids, there would nearly always be some kind of a fight, either during the game or right afterwards," Odelein once said. "I can tell you names of guys who played their age-group hockey in that area and you won't ask me if they could fight. Guys like (future NHL tough guys) Wendel Clark, Joe Kocur, Kelly Chase, Kevin Kaminski.
On Aug. 22, 1996, Montreal traded Odelein to the New Jersey Devils for Stephane Richer. He led the Devils in penalty minutes in 1996-97 with 110 PIMs. He would often be paired with Scott Stevens as the Devils' top shutdown pair. In fact, Odelein was so highly thought of around this time that he was included on Team Canada at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

On March 7, 2000 he was traded by the Devils to the Phoenix Coyotes for Deron Quint and a conditional pick in the 2001 draft. He was then selected by Columbus Blue Jackets in NHL expansion draft on June 23, 2000, where he was named Columbus Blue Jackets first ever team captain.

Like most players, Odelein was a bit of a vagabond late in his career as teams looked to him for his experience. He rounded out his career with short stints in Chicago, Dallas, Florida and Pittsburgh.

All in all, Lyle Odelein played in 1056 hard fought NHL contests. He scored 50 goals, 252 points and 2316 career penalty minutes.

After retirement Odelein split his time working on the family 6400 acre ranch back in Quill Lake, and with North Shore Saloon in Pittsburgh.


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