Greatest Montreal Canadiens Player of All-Time

All of THW’s Habs writers voted on a top-three system to declare who’s the very best Montreal Canadiens participant of all-time. At the conclusion of the voting, there was a two-way for many votes, between Maurice Richard and Jean Beliveau. Due to having extra first-place votes, Richard bought the sting. However, we determined to make instances for each gamers beneath.

1. Maurice Richard, 1942-1960 (Written by Melissa Boyd)

Choosing the Canadiens’ all-time biggest participant is an almost unimaginable activity contemplating the numerous worthy candidates to select from. Case in level, our staff vote led to a first-place tie between Richard and Béliveau once we every selected our high three. We gave the sting to the “Rocket” on account of his three first-place votes, however a robust case may be made for each legends. 

TORONTO, ON – 1950S: Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens skates for the puck throughout an NHL recreation towards the Toronto Maple Leafs circa 1950’s on the Maple Leaf Garden in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

When you assume of Montreal and Canadiens, often the primary identify that involves thoughts is Maurice Richard. He revolutionized the game like no different and set the desk for all the good gamers who wore the ‘bleu-blanc-rouge’ after him. He overcame adversity to develop into the very best participant of his era. 

Richard scored 32 targets in 46 video games throughout his first full NHL season in 1943-44. That yr was additionally the primary of 14 straight seasons during which he was named an All-Star. He etched his identify within the historical past books the next yr when he grew to become the primary participant to attain 50 targets in a season and he wanted simply 50 video games to do it. He additionally grew to become the primary participant to attain 500 targets within the NHL. 

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Not solely is Richard the topic of the favored youngsters’s e-book “The Hockey Sweater”, however he’s additionally a hero and a cultural icon in Quebec to this present day – not solely as a result of of his unbelievable feats on the ice, but additionally as a result of he at all times used his platform to face up for his heritage and Quebecers adopted go well with. 

Richard was greater than the sport. When he handed away from most cancers in 2000, he was given a state funeral in Montreal that was attended by greater than 115,000 individuals. The Habs’ AHL staff in Laval is known as after him and the NHL’s high goalscorer trophy bears his identify. 

Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin with the Rocket Richard Trophy for probably the most targets in a season. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI by way of Getty Images)

It’s solely acceptable that our high vote-getters are each Quebec-born gamers, contemplating that hockey and the Canadiens have develop into such an essential half of the province’s tradition. No participant has had extra of an influence on that tradition than No. 9, Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

2. Jean Beliveau, 1950-1971

Jean Beliveau, also called “Le Gros Bill,” must be included within the dialog when mentioning the very best Habs participant of all-time. Getting Beliveau to commit full-time to the Canadiens was a problem, as he wanted to stay loyal to the City of Quebec. Despite having a contract that he signed with the Canadiens in 1950, he would stay full-time with the Quebec Ramparts and Quebec Aces. During that point, he performed a number of video games right here and there for the Canadiens. However, when he did arrive full-time for the 1953-54 season, he immediately took the Canadiens to a different degree.

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In his prime, he led the Habs each on and off the ice, successful 10 Stanley Cups, together with 5 as captain. The 5 Stanley Cups ties him with Maurice “Rocket” Richard for many as a Habs captain. However, he performed large elements in successful these 5 Cups alongside Richard, who was captain in the course of the 5 consecutive Cup dynasty. At that time, Beliveau was increase his pedigree to develop into the subsequent captain. Therefore, having Beliveau helped Richard to have the ability to seize these Cups as captain.

Jean Beliveau
Jean Beliveau (THW Archives)

Beliveau captured his one and solely scoring title and first of two Hart Trophies (the opposite got here in 1963-64) within the 1955-56 season. He also won the first-ever Conn Smythe Trophy in 1965, when he led the Habs previous the Chicago Blackhawks to win his first Cup as captain.

Beliveau’s 6-foot-4 stature and clean skating allowed him to have a bonus to outplay his opponents on any given night time. While he wasn’t referred to as a lot for goalscoring as playmaking, he did handle to be one of solely three gamers to attain 500 targets in a Habs uniform. Plus, he was the one playmaker of the bunch.

Jean Beliveau, winner of the primary Conn Smythe Trophy (THW Archives)

Beliveau led the Canadiens in factors in 7 of his 18 full seasons with the staff, together with his closing season in 1970-71. His finest season got here in 1958-59, the place he scored 45 targets and 91 factors, however he didn’t lead the staff in factors as teammate Dickie Moore led the league with 96.

Throughout his profession, Beliveau scored 1,219 factors in 1,125 video games, and, to this present day, continues to be the all-time chief in Habs regular-season factors. He went on to play in 13 All-Star video games, and earned six first-team All-Star and 4 second-team All-Star choices.

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Beliveau was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972. He additionally continued to be an envoy of the staff till his demise on Dec. 2, 2014.

While Richard might appear to be the straightforward alternative as the best participant in Canadiens historical past, Beliveau may be argued to be the very best as properly.

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