The Montreal Canadiens are the most storied franchise in NHL history. No team has had more success than the Canadiens. 24 Stanley Cup wins, 66 members in the Hockey Hall Of Fame (most of any franchise in NHL history) Being a member of the Montreal Canadiens is something many players have taken great pride in.
Not everyone however loved their time as a Canadien. Some of the players on this list had great career with the Habs that ended horribly (Looking at you #14) and some just struggled to make any impact at all with the Canadiens. When a team has been around as long as the Habs there are always going to be players that hate the team.
This list will show the 15 players that hated being a member of the Montreal Canadiens. It has failed prospects, Hockey Hall Of Famers, and every type in between. The Habs have a storied history, and the stories of the players that hated being a member of the team is just as interesting. So let’s kick this off as we list 15 players that hated being a member of the Montreal Canadiens with a player who was literally pulled mid-game to be traded!
15. Mike Cammalleri
Mike Cammalleri was another huge free agent signing that definitely backfired on the Montreal Canadiens. He had put up big numbers with the Flames in 2008 and signed a 5-year deal worth $6 million a season in 2009. Injuries plagued Cammalleri’s first few seasons with the Habs but it was in the 3rd season that you could tell he had grown to resent the organization. He began making public comments about the team’s “losing attitude” and was critical of his usage under coach Randy Cunneyworth. Cammalleri was pulled from a game and dealt back to the Flames. Cammalleri enjoyed the fans in Montreal and the fans enjoyed him, but Cammalleri definitely didn’t give the team’s management group and coaching staff the vote of confidence.
14. Patrick Roy
Hear me out on this one. Patrick Roy was a beloved member of the Montreal Canadiens and he had a very successful career as a member of the Habs. The end of his Habs career was so bad though, that he deserves a place on this list. It’s no surprise it took him 14 years to make good with the team and the fans so his jersey could be retired. He was traded under dubious circumstances after allowing 9 goals in a game. Roy felt disrespected and thought his coach did it on purpose to humiliate him and demanded a trade. The team suspended him before trading Roy just 4 days later. Roy made a lot of comments towards the end of his tenure with the club criticizing the team’s low standards. He may have loved being a Hab at the beginning of his career but by the end there is no doubt that he hated it!
13. Zack Kassian
Now this may be a bit of a technicality because Kassian never officially played a game for the Montreal Canadiens but I’m counting it. Zack Kassian was traded to the Habs by the Canucks for Brandon Prust and a 5th round pick on July 1st, 2015. Shortly before the season started Kassian was involved in a car accident. Kassian was intoxicated as a passenger and subsequently entered a substance abuse program. Upon release, the Habs wanted nothing to do with Kassian, refusing to allow him to even report to their AHL franchise.
Kassian wanted another chance in the NHL and got it in a trade to the Edmonton Oilers. Kassian has played an integral part adding some grit and speed to an Oilers roster that needed it. Aren’t the Habs always looking for that too? Seems they gave up too soon.
12. Andre Racicot
When the fans give you the lovely nickname of “Red Light” as a goaltender, it is easy to see why Andre Racicot hated his time as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Andre Racicot had to live up to the great Patrick Roy who was the starter for all of Andre’s career with the Habs. Racicot was no Patrick Roy and the fans ate him up for it. He struggled to live up to expectations that fans had of Habs goaltenders. Racicot had a record of 26-23-8 as a member of the Habs but with a woeful 3.50 goals against average and a .880 save percentage.
It is no surprise that after he left the Habs he would never play another game in the NHL. He stuck around the minor leagues for a decade before finally retiring after the 2004-05 QNAHL season.
11. Alex Semin
Alex Semin made a name for himself as a member of the Washington Capitals. He also gained a reputation of being a player who was talented but didn’t always try. After putting up big points with the Caps and being a bust in Carolina, Semin signed a one year deal worth $1.1 million with the Habs in 2015. His career in Montreal only lasted 15 games which saw him contribute 4 points.
The Habs waived him in December of 2015 and after going unclaimed Semin refused to report to their AHL club. The Habs and Semin mutually terminated their contract shortly after. Semin just never made it work in Montreal and would flee back to his native Russia, having burned every bridge he ever crossed in the NHL.
10. Rod Langway
Rod Langway is one of the most well-known Washington Capitals of all time. He ended his career with 329 points and 851 PIMS in 994 career games. It’s lesser known that he started his career as a member of the Habs. Langway hated playing in Canada. Higher taxes and a lower Canadian dollar meant it was costing him money to play in Montreal.
He forced his way out of town and was traded to the Caps where he once won back to back Norris trophies. He had a long career but it is safe to say he doesn’t look back on his time in Montreal fondly. When asked about why he was traded, Langway told the Montreal Gazette, he bluntly said: “It was all about money, a contract, the exchange rate and my tax situation. I pushed a couple of buttons myself – the wrong way. I started using the press to make it happen faster … to try to make things happen faster … to make a decision.”
9. Sergei Kostitsyn
When you walk out on the team on more than one occasion it is easy to say you hate it there. Sergei Kostitsyn was a talented forward in the NHL with a huge attitude problem. He joined the club for their AHL team’s playoff run but went home when he wasn’t playing right away. This was a sign of things to come as he would refuse assignments to the AHL on numerous occasions. He would go home and come back. proving he wasn’t a reliable player. He proved he could score in the AHL but he would give up and go home if it wasn’t rewarded with a call-up. Kostitsyn showed time and time again that he was a selfish player who wasn’t there for the team and hated being a Montreal Canadien.
8. Mike Ribeiro
Has Mike Ribeiro enjoyed playing anywhere really?? It seems controversy followed Mike everywhere he went in his career. In Montreal he was a cocky but talented young player (think P.K Subban but without the community outreach and charming personality) Ribeiro rubbed everyone the wrong way. He got in a fight with captain Saku Koivu during practice which divided the city’s loyalty and made him a lone wolf in the locker room.
Mike Ribeiro was born in Montreal and the French-speaking fans stood behind their countryman, booing the Canadiens legend Koivu. Ribeiro showed flashes of talent but his attitude got him shipped out of Montreal after 6 tumultuous seasons. The Habs were so desperate to get rid of him they settled on a deal that landed them over-the-hill defenceman Janne Niinimaa.
7. Sergei Samsonov
Coming out of the 2006 NHL playoffs, Samsanov was never more valued in his career. He had a career resurgence during the playoffs helping the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final with 15 points that postseason. He signed a two-year deal worth $7.05 million and he promptly tumbled right back to earth. A lowly 26 points in 63 games spelled the beginning of the end of his career. He never seemed to be accepted in Montreal which affected his play.
He was traded to Chicago and his struggles continued before slowly finding his game again as a member of the Hurricanes. Samsonov definitely regrets his time in Montreal as it took a stint in the AHL and a waiver pick up for him to get another chance.
6. Janne Niinimaa
Another storied defenseman’s NHL career ended with the Montreal Canadiens, and not in a good way. Janne Niinimma had a great career in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders. It all fell apart when he joined the Montreal Canadiens. Janne had the worst statistical season of his career during his one season with the Habs. He was the main piece the Canadiens got when they traded Mike Ribeiro and it’s safe to say the Habs got terrible value for dealing a troubled, but very talented player.
As for Niinimaa, he got in to only 41 games and recorded just 3 assists and was an abysmal -13. He would never play in the NHL again after this forgettable season with the Habs.
5. David Aebischer
David Aebischer was a solid starting goalie during his time as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, compiling a record of 89-58-14. Not outstanding stats but he did have a goals against average of only 2.35. He was far from the same goaltender after going to the Montreal Canadiens. His career never recovered from his stint with Montreal. As a member of the Habs, Aebischer struggled mightily. He got into 39 games over parts of two seasons with a record of 17-15-3 and a GAA of 3.28.
His struggles continued on his next stop with the Coyotes. The Habs weren’t a horrible team at this point but maybe the pressure of being traded for former Hart Trophy goaltender Jose Theodore caused the cracks that formed in Aebischer’s game. He would go on to play in Europe and attempted a failed NHL comeback with the St. John’s IceCaps during the 2011-12 AHL season.
4. Mark Streit
This is the most recent entry on this list as it just occurred this season. Mark Streit has had a long career in the NHL, including a great stint with the Canadiens at the start of his career. This entry focuses on this season however. Streit was brought back to help a decimated defensive corps for the Habs. After just four games, the Habs made the decision to send Streit down to the minors. Streit refused to report to the AHL Laval Rocket. The Habs put Streit on unconditional waivers.
The team and Streit then mutually agreed to terminate his contract which appears to have ended Streit’s NHL career. There is no way this is how Streit wanted it all to end and it wouldn’t be surprising to see if he had resentment for the club.
3. Tomas Kaberle
Tomas Kaberle played most of his career for the Canadiens’ hated rival the Toronto Maple Leafs. After a short stint (and a cup win) with the Bruins, Kaberle signed a 3 year deal with the Hurricanes. He would be moved to the Canadiens during that first season. Kaberle had a decent first half season with the club but his cap hit of $4.25 million a season loomed over his head, as he wasn’t able to live up to it.
After the lockout, it wasn’t the same, Kaberle would find himself a healthy scratch on the club. He only got into 10 games, registering just 3 assists.
For a proud player like Kaberle that was it, his NHL career would end after this failed stint with the Canadiens and like Mark Streit after him, it’s hard to not resent the club.
2. Scott Gomez
Has anyone’s career fallen further faster than Scott Gomez? Gomez signed a big money long-term deal with the New York Rangers. Montreal sold the farm to acquire Scott Gomez, forward Tom Pyatt, and defenseman Mike Busto. The Canadiens sent forward Chris Higgins, defensemen Doug Janik, Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko. McDonagh became the Rangers captain and top defenseman.
Gomez struggled as a Hab, actually going a full calendar year without a goal. Making over $7 million a year, the Habs expected much more from Gomez. The Habs would use their first compliance buyout following the 2012 lockout on Gomez but his career was never the same after his stint in Montreal. While Gomez never said anything bad about the organization, he was the city’s whipping boy throughout his entire tenure and it couldn’t have been enjoyable for him, even though he was paid quite handsomely.
1. Doug Wickenheiser
Doug Wickenhesier is known as one of the biggest draft busts in NHL history. He was selected first overall in the 1980 NHL Draft. The fans turned on him quickly as French Canadian Denis Savard was selected just two picks later. Savard would have a tremendous career and eventually play for the Habs starting in 1990, but that was after knee injuries had slowed him down significantly, meaning the Habs missed out on his prime years.
Wickenheiser had a disappointing career as a member of the Habs, compiling just 115 points in four seasons. He never could get it going and the fans were quick to remind him he was no Denis Savard. The pressure of being a 1st overall pick in the fishbowl of Montreal assured that Doug Wickenheiser hated being a Montreal Canadien.
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