Claude Provost

The Montreal Canadiens of the 1950s and 1960s are considered to be one of the greatest teams of all time. With names like Beliveau, Richard, Geoffrion, Harvey and Moore, the Habs had offence to spare. Someone had to accept the unglamorous role of checker and role player. Claude Provost sacrificed his own offensive output for the team. His unselfish style of hustling and aggressive checking earned him a place as a Legend of Hockey.

While sacrificing personal recognition, Provost was as big a part of the success of the Habs as anyone. He was part of two dynasty eras, the late 1950s and the late 1960s. All in all, Provost earned nine Stanley Cup championship rings.

Known for his incredible shadowing of the other team's superstars, most notably Bobby Hull, the wide-jawed Provost played over 1000 NHL games, recording very respectable totals of 254 goals and 589 points. Despite his aggressive checking style, he earned only 469 penalty minutes

Provost was brought in to Montreal by coach Toe Blake to start the 1955-56 season. The sturdy right wing found an immediate home with fellow newcomers Phil Goyette and Andre Pronovost. Provost scored three goals and 6 points in the playoffs, helping the Habs win the first of 5 consecutive Stanley Cup championships.

Admittedly an average shooter and awkward skater (though he was deceptively speedy), he relied on his ability to read oncoming plays and closing off options of the other team's top stars. While he would average 16 goals a season, his scoring increased after he noticed Gordie Howe used a short stick. Provost followed suit in the 1960s, and his scoring contributions grew.

Provost broke out with a career high 33 goals in 1962-63. In 1964-65 he had an even better year. While he scored 27 goals, he added 37 assists and earned a spot on the NHL first all star team. In the playoffs he masterfully shut down Bobby Hull as the Habs embarked on a 4 championships in 5 years span known as Montreal's "quiet dynasty."

Through it all, Provost remained happily in the shadows of more prolific teammates. Provost's contributions finally were recognized as his career wound down, as he was named the first ever winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his dedication to the game.

While many forget to mention Claude Provost as one of the greatest Habs of all time, it should be noted without his selfless team play and willingness to the dirty work on a team loaded with superstars, the Montreal Canadiens wouldn't have been as successful during the 1950s and 1960s without Claude Provost.

Provost retired from hockey in the summer of 1969. He turned to running a small hotel in northern Montreal and later operated a health and fitness center. In April, 1984 Provost suffered a fatal heart attack while playing tennis near his home in Miami. He was just 49.


rcbakewell 9:43 PM  

Provost was one of my favorites - he was sort of bow legged and his craggy face added to his unique style on the ice. Very sad that he passed so young.

James,  7:36 PM  

Although I was never a Habs fan, I think Claude Provost deserves a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was an integral part of many Canadiens' Stanley Cup wins. Hopefully, the late Mr. Provost will be remembered for his contribution to hockey.

Andy Baumgarten,  1:33 PM  

First off, I know of Claude Provost's greatness. Guys like he, Jim Roberts and Bob Gainey, all with varying degrees were reasons the Habs won so many crowns.

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