The Montreal Canadiens are unquestionably one of the greatest and most storied franchises in the National Hockey League. They just completed their 98th active year as a team, and have claimed the top prize, the legendary Stanley Cup, a whopping 24 times in that span, the most ever.
Montreal lives and breaths hockey, and for Habs fans, the last several decades have been extremely frustrating. After such a dominant 20th century, they have yet to even appear in a Stanley Cup finals in the new millennium. A fanbase so used to winning has had a difficult time with the Canadiens, who have yet to bring Stanley Cup action to the Bell Center. There are adult Montrealers who have never had the experience of a Stanley Cup victory, or even appearance.
With that in mind, this article will dig into a bit of history, and look back at the years where Montreal was the unquestioned king of the hockey world. But, instead of pointing out the Guy Lafleurs, Jean Beliveaus, and Henri Richards of Canadiens past, we’ll take a different approach and look at the scrubs, the bench-warmers, and the untested rookies that got a front row seat to history, as the Worst Players On All 24 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Rosters…
24. Jack Fournier (1916)
The Canadiens historic first Stanley Cup win was a bit of a shocker. The team bounced back from worst in the league during the previous season to turn things around with a victory over the Portland Rosebuds. The series went the distance, in what was then a best-of-five Stanley Cup format, with Montreal winning 2-1 in the final game to clinch their first trophy.
One player who was just kind of along for the ride on Montreal’s championship squad was Jack Fournier. The center played in just ten games all season, contributing just one goal for the team the entire season and no assists. He was traded to Ottawa shortly after the season ended.
23. Billy Bell (1924)
It was a while before the Canadiens got back on top of the league. They lost the finals in 1917, and played a series against the Seattle Metropolitans in 1919 which ended up being cancelled before completion due to a flue epidemic. Their second Stanley Cup win came finally in 1924, when they defeated the Western Canada Hockey League champions the Calgary Tigers 2-0 in a best of three series.
It wasn’t a particularly compelling series, Montreal recorded a 6-1 victory at home, followed by a 3-0 victory in Ottawa to win the title.
Billy Bell was happy just to be around and get his name engraved in the prestigious trophy. The veteran center played sparingly during the season and did not contribute any goals or assists to the team’s totals. He retired after the season.
22. Canadiens: Gerald Carson (1930)
The 1930 Stanley Cup finals featured the Habs and Boston Bruins, a rivalry that has budded into one of the most intense in the league’s history. The Bruins were coming off a 38-5-1 season, the best winning percentage in NHL history, and had beaten the Canadiens every time they’d met during the regular season.
That changed in the finals, as the Canadiens swept the favored Bruins 2-0 in the best-of-three series.
In a stacked defensive line that featured Sylvio Mantha, Marty Burke, and Albert Leduc, Gerald Carson did not see much playing time. He played in 35 of 44 games that season, netting himself one goal. He also played in all six playoff games but did not make an impact on the stat sheet.
21. Canadiens: Gus Rivers (1931)
The Canadiens defended their title the following year, with a Stanley Cup victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Following the team’s improbable sweep of the Boston Bruins the year previous, the format was changed to a best-of-five series. Montreal and Chicago went the distance, with Montreal winning in five after a hard-fought series.
The Canadiens didn’t make a ton of changes to the roster that had won the year previous, and it was the same core that carried them to victory. A beneficiary of this strong team was Gus Rivers, who played his entire, short career (1929-1932) with the Canadiens, winning two Stanley Cup trophies during that time. He did not contribute much during that time. During the 1931 season, Rivers played in every game but only managed two goals and five assists.
20. Bob Fillion (1944)
There was a long and frustrating 13 year Stanley Cup drought for the Habs, who finally got back to the top in 1944, led by strong goal-keeping by rookie Bill Durnam, who was signed ten minutes before the first game. The Canadiens led the league by a good margin with a record of 38-5-7 and swept through the playoffs, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 in the now best-of-seven series format.
Left-winger Bob Fillion was a relatively quiet contributor for the Canadiens that season, overshadowed on an team that featured the legendary “Punch Line” of forwards Elmer Lach, Toe Blake, and Maurice Richard. Fillion was in his rookie season, on his way to a fairly solid career, but it’s safe to say Montreal would have had no problem winning the cup without his seven-goal contribution to the team’s season.
19. Gerry Plamondon (1946)
Two years later, the Punch Line took home another Stanley Cup title for the Canadiens. The team led the league during the regular season and cruised to another finals berth, where they met the Boston Bruins. Montreal won the series 4-1, but it was very hard-fought, with three games going into overtime.
With the usual contributions from the likes of Elmer Lach, Toe Blake, and Maurice Richard, and the previously mentioned Bob Fillion developing into a more consistent contributor this time around, the title of worst player on this year’s edition of the Canadiens is awarded to Gerry Plamondon, who is also the last surviving member of this legendary team. Plamondon played very sparingly for the team, only chipping in two assists on the season, but finding himself engraved forever on hockey’s most prestigious trophy.
18. Bud MacPherson (1953)
After two straight losses, the Canadiens broke through in 1953 for their seventh Stanley Cup victory. They won the series 4-1 against—guess who—the Boston Bruins. The team still featured the aging Maurice Richard and Elmer Lach up front, and the team added Bert Olmstead at left wing.
The team also featured a typically deep blue line, with strong defenders such as Emile Bouchard and Doug Harvey leading the team’s back end. The big-bodied Bud MacPherson ended up lost in the shuffle. Although he played in 59 games, he only netted two goals and three assists in limited playing time, and spent a disproportionate amount of his time in the penalty box in an overall unremarkable campaign.
17. Don Marshall (1956)
In Toe Blake’s first Stanley Cup final as head coach of the Habs was also his first Stanley Cup victory, and the start of an incredible five consecutive championships for the Canadiens. Their first came in 1956 in a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
Don Marshall was no slouch of a hockey player, and had an incredibly long career where he spent significant time with both the Canadiens and the New York Rangers. However, his 1956 season was not one of his best. He played in 66 games but only notched four goals and one assist, and was by no means an essential member of the team.
16. Phil Goyette (1957)
The second of their string of five, the Canadiens faced off against the familiar rival Boston Bruins, who were back in the finals after their 1953 loss to the Canadiens. Unfortunately for Boston, it was another loss for them, as the Canadiens rolled to an easy 4-1 series victory.
Phil Goyette would go on to have a solid and long-lasting NHL career. But it’s safe to say the Stanley Cup he won in his first year in the league is not his proudest. Goyette barely got any minutes for Montreal, scoring just three goals and totalling four assists during the regular season, and adding two more goals and one assist in the playoffs.
15. Bob Turner (1958)
The Bruins didn’t have to wait long for their chance at revenge, as Boston faced off against Montreal the very next year. Unfortunately for Boston, it was another victory for the Canadiens, who needed just six games to put away the Bruins. The 1958 Canadiens are one of the best teams in NHL history, with a whopping 13 members of the team (including staff) currently in the Hall of Fame.
With that, it’s hard to point out any “bad” players from their impressive dynasty, as stars and role players worked together seamlessly to create an incredible team. One player, though, buried at the bottom of the depth chart, was defenseman Bob Turner. Turner played a quiet, reliable brand of hockey, but lacked the flashiness of Montreal’s big defenders or sharpshooting forwards, and is definitely not anyone’s first, second, or tenth choice for team MVP.
14. Ken Mosdell (1959)
Yup, this is getting pretty tough. Nitpicking what was a pretty incredible and dominant Canadiens roster isn’t easy. The 1959 edition of the Original Six team met a new opponent in the finals from previous years, the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the result wasn’t much different. The Canadiens cruised to a 4-1 victory, and things started looking pretty unfair for the rest of the league.
Jean Beliveau and Dickie Moore led a productive offensive attack, totaling 86 goals between them. Our man Bob Turner even showed up this season, chipping in 24 assists. The dubious honor of worst player goes to Ken Mosdell, a veteran in the twilight of his career who managed to play exactly zero minutes over the course of the regular season, but still getting his name in as a member of the team.
13. Ab McDonald (1960)
1960 was a landmark season in the NHL as Montreal goalie Jacques Plante started a trend of wearing masks to play after taking a shot to the face. It also marked the Canadiens dynasty’s fifth straight Stanley Cup victory. It wasn’t even hard for Montreal, as they handled the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 to take home the hardware.
Ab McDonald was a hard-working young winger who never could quite make it in Montreal, as he was faced with the difficult task of replacing Hall of Famer Bert Olmstead. He did win himself a few Stanley Cups in his time there, but was traded shortly after the team’s 1960 win after never realizing his potential with the Canadiens.
12. Jean-Noel Picard (1965)
The Canadiens took a break from winning for a few seasons, but were back in the Stanley Cup in no time, breaking through in 1965 to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in a thrilling seven game series. The Montreal squad was packed this year, with familiar faces like Jean Beliveau and Claude Provost, as well as rising stars in Dick Duff and Yvan Cournoyer.
The title of worst player on the team goes to Jean-Noel Picard, a defenseman buried in the rotation. This was Picard’s only season with the team, and he saw the ice in just 16 games, picking up seven assists and no goals in that time.
11. Dave Balon (1966)
In 1966, the Canadiens reached their seventh Stanley Cup final in eleven years under Toe Blake, and won seven of them. Veteran Henri Richard, who was around for all seven, ripped home an overtime goal in game six to beat the Detroit Red Wings.
Dave Balon was a seldom-used winger on Blake’s squad who spent very little time in Montreal. Balon played in 45 games but only recorded three goals and seven assists in his time on the ice. He did have the honor of assisting Richard’s game winner in game seven, but left the team in 1967 following the NHL Expansion Draft, where he was selected by the Minnesota North Stars.
10. Michael Redmond (1968)
In what was now a twelve team NHL, the Canadiens were still king. Toe Blake continued to add to his legendary resume, sweeping the St. Louis Blues to win the best of seven series, despite an injury to Jean Beliveau. It would be Blake’s last Stanley Cup, as shortly after the team’s victory he announced his retirement from coaching in order to spend time with his wife, who was dying of cancer.
Along for the ride in the legendary Blake’s final season was winger Michael Redmond, who was later traded to the Detroit Red Wings and had himself a fine career. He hadn’t realized his potential yet during his time in Montreal, and only contributed six goals and five assists in a year where he was nearly invisible.
9. Christian Bordeleau (1969)
New coach, no problem for the Canadiens, who mirrored their 1968 result by defeating St. Louis again in the Stanley Cup finals by sweeping them four games to none. It marked four cups in five years for largely the same core of players, another dominant run for the Habs that has shaped their history as the most dominant team in the NHL.
Christian Bordeleau saw more success with the World Hockey Association than he did in the NHL, but managed to get his name on the Stanley Cup by playing on the 1969 roster. It wouldn’t have made much of a difference if he hadn’t been there, as his one goal and three assists hardly made the difference for the team.
8. Bobby Sheehan (1971)
The 1971 season featured one of the more tumultuous Cup victories for the Canadiens. While they won, squeaking past the Chicago Blackhawks with a one-goal game seven victory, new coach Al MacNeil made the very unpopular decision to bench star player Henri Richard in game five. Richard called MacNeil “the worst coach I ever played for”, and accused him of favoring English-speaking players, which did not go down well in Montreal, with MacNeil receiving death threats and losing his job shortly after the finals.
Center Bobby Sheehan was getting his first taste of NHL action as a reserve with the team, contributing six goals and five assists. Sheehan was gone after the season and bounced around several minor league teams, as well as other NHL clubs, over the course of a journeyman career.
7. Steve Shutt (1973)
In a rematch of the 1971 series, the Canadiens matched up with the Chicago Blackhawks yet again, and emerged victorious in six games, Scotty Bowman’s first of many victories as Canadiens head coach. Yvan Cournoyer and Jacques Lemaire led the Canadiens with 12 points each in the fast paced, high scoring series.
Many will recognize Shutt’s name as a Hall of Famer with impressive career scoring totals. It just goes to show how stacked the 1970s Canadiens teams were that in Shutt’s rookie year he could barely get any ice time. The Canadiens saw potential in him, but he under-performed in his rookie season with just eight goals and eight assists in 50 games. Of course, this was only the beginning for Shutt.
6. Rick Chartraw (1976)
In 1976, the Canadiens returned to the finals, against the high-flying Philadelphia Flyers, who were making their third straight finals appearance. Unimpressed, the Canadiens shut them down quickly with a 4-0 series sweep. Shutt now starred on a Canadiens team that never seemed to have any difficulty finding talented scoring forwards to carry their team.
Rick Chartraw, a defender from Venezuela, became the first South American to win the Stanley Cup, but hardly led the team. He played very sparingly throughout the season and finished with just one goal and three assists on the year.
5. Rick Chartraw (1977)
Another sweep for the dominant Habs, this time against their rivals from across the border the Boston Bruins. This made two straight for Montreal, on their way to four consecutive victories.
The only repeat entry on this list, it’s hard to find anyone on the 1977 roster to replace Chartraw with. The late ’70s Habs teams were stacked with future Hall of Famers and Montreal legends up and down the roster, and only Chartraw stands out as someone who was never much more than a role player in the NHL, playing limited blue line minutes but still managing to get himself to multiple Stanley Cup victories.
4. Brian Engblom (1978)
The Canadiens-Bruins rivalry added another chapter in 1978, with the teams facing off in yet another Stanley Cup. This was the Canadiens’ decade, however, and the team won the series 4-2 to make it three straight.
Left off the Cup the year previous for not having an active enough role, Engblom squeaked his way on in 1978, after what was a similarly unimpressive season. The defender recorded one goal and two assists in 28 regular season games, but was lucky enough to have his short NHL stint on one of the Canadiens best all-time teams.
3. Cam Connor (1979)
The Canadiens put the finishing touches on their four consecutive Stanley Cup victories by defeating the New York Rangers 4-1. Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, and Bob Gainey led the team, as injuries forced veteran Yvan Cournoyer into a limited role in the last season of his Hall of Fame career. This was the last time two Original Six teams would compete for the Cup until 2013
A rookie fifth round selection, Cam Connor lucked out and was able to cruise to a Stanley Cup victory in the last year of the Canadiens 1970s dynasty. The winger only contributed one goal and three assists during the 1978-79 campaign, before leaving the team for Edmonton.
2. John Kordic (1986)
After the Canadiens dominant runs of the mid-90s, parity began to rule in the NHL, with more and more different teams winning the prestigious Stanley Cup. Montreal wasn’t done winning yet, though, and stormed to a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in 1986, the rookie year of some kid named Patrick Roy.
John Kordic, a big enforcer-type player who played both right wing and defenseman during his career, was not a major contributor to the team’s success in 1986, playing just five regular season games and totaling one assist. Kordic died in 1992 of a drug overdose.
1. Jesse Belanger (1993)
The Canadiens most recent Stanley Cup victory is far to long ago for Habs fans, as the team has yet to make it to the finals in the 21st century. This was a historic Cup for many reasons. It was the last finals series played in Montreal’s legendary Forum, and the last Stanley Cup appearance by Wayne Gretzky, who played for the Los Angeles Kings. Montreal made quick work of the Kings, downing them in just five games to win the trophy for the 24th time.
Center Jesse Belanger did just enough to squeeze his name onto the Cup. The journeyman center played in just 19 regular season games, totaling four goals and two assists for Montreal.
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