The Montreal Canadiens are a storied franchise. When you’ve been around for over 100 years now, there are a lot of good players that are going to pass your way. Take goalies for example. The Canadiens, at some points in their history, had the best goalies in the world playing on their team. There was Ken Dryden, perhaps the biggest name of all. George Vezina, another legend, Patrick Roy, who won two cups in his first seven years with the Canadiens before heading to Colorado and winning two more. Or what about Carey Price, who’s in the middle of writing his own legend.
It’s incredible, looking at a franchise's history, and seeing how many goalies actually had a chance to represent the bleu-blanc-rouge, even if it was only one game, coming on as a back-up, and letting in five goals in a 10-1 loss, and then never wearing the uniform again (sorry Charlie Sands). The Canadiens, for example, have had 80 goalies wear the uniform throughout their history. A big reason why the Canadiens have 24 Stanley Cups is because they always seemed to have one of, if not the best goalie in the game at the time. If they were to win their 25th Stanley Cup in the next few years, it would again be due to the heroics of Carey Price.
And as much as there are legends in that list, there are other whose names are best left forgotten, just like their performances. And although these names will never go down in Montreal Canadiens history, they’ll always be there for us to look back on and share a chuckle or two. Here are the top 15 worst goalies in Montreal Canadiens history.
15 Jocelyn Thibault
I warn you all from now, a lot of the goalies mentioned will be from the Patrick Roy era, where some of the worst goaltending decisions were made in those years. I feel bad for Jocelyn Thibault because he shouldn’t have been playing with the Montreal Canadiens in the first place. He was involved in the deal that will probably go down in history as the stupidest deal the Montreal Canadiens franchise ever made; the one that sent arguably the best goalie of all time, four-time Stanley Cup winner Patrick Roy to the Colorado Avalanche.
He wasn’t horrible for the Canadiens, taking up most of the work for four seasons, playing a total of 158 games for the Habs. He had a respectable record of 67-56-24, with a .908 save percentage and 2.73 GAA. Not the worst numbers, but nowhere near enough to mend the enormous hole left in Habs fans hearts when they saw Roy go.
14 Andy Moog
Let me start by saying that Andy Moog was in no means a bad goalie in the NHL. His arrival in Montreal for the one season he played in La Belle Province was actually the first time they won a playoff series since 1993. His numbers weren’t bad as well, with a .905 save percentage and a 2.49 GAA, going pretty much even with his record being 18-17-5 over 42 games. Moog at this point was near the end of his career, and although he left the game with an impressive resume and a good career, he’ll unfortunately never have left a mark on the Canadiens franchise.
13 Doug Soetaert
Moving on Doug Soetaert, who was drafted 30th overall in the 2nd round by the New York Rangers in 1975. Shifting between the minors and the NHL, it wasn’t until 1980-81 that Soetaert would become a regular goalie in the NHL, mostly as a back up. His time in Montreal lasted two seasons between 1986 and 1988. The goalie backed up Patrick Roy for two years, somewhat getting the job done with 25 wins in two seasons, but posting a 3.13 GAA and .873 save percentage. He had 15 losses and 6 ties in that time as well. Definitely not all bad from Soetaert, who even became a Stanley Cup champion with the team in 1986 (although mostly on the back of Roy).
12 Wilf Cude
Wilf Cude was the main goalie wearing the bleu-blanc-rouge from 1934-1940, playing a whooping 220 games in the process. Unfortunately, he lost 100 of those on the dot, winning 82 in the meantime. His record in the playoffs was mediocre as well despite playing only nine games, winning only three. Cude had a reputation in the NHL of being the best spare goaltender, always being there for whatever team would need him. Although he didn’t do to badly in the Habs uniform considering the team in front of him, his numbers do earn him a spot on my list.
11 Andre Racicot
Racicot is another goalie from the Patick Roy era in Montreal, selected 83rd overall in the 1989 draft. He played his only NHL Hockey with the Montreal Canadiens, spending the rest of his career playing for different teams in the minors, and a season in Russia as well. Racicot had a losing record with the Canadiens with horrible numbers. His best season came as a backup in the 1992-93 season, posting a 17-5-1 record, but while allowing an average of 3.39 goals a game, which goes to show the skill of the Stanley Cup winning team in front of him. He was probably best known for his nickname “Red Light,” earned when he allowed three goals on six shots in 1992 against the Rangers in Madison Square Garden.
10 Steve Penney
Steve Penney spent three seasons with the Canadiens, never being overly impressive in that stretch. He did technically win the cup in 1986 with the Canadiens, although his name was left off the Cup because he was out injured most of the season. In the 18 games he did play, he allowed 72 goals, averaging out to a less than stellar 4.36 goals per game. It was perhaps meant to be that his name did not end up being included on the Stanley Cup, although Penney did receive a ring and was included in the team picture.
His best season was perhaps in 1984-85, where he won 26 games out of the 54 he played, still posting a horrid 3.08 GAA in the meantime. He was traded to the Jets after the Canadiens won the cup in 1986, where he would finish his career.
9 Dustin Tokarski
Poor Tokarski. I could never think about Dustin Tokarski without feeling a little bad for him. He came out on the minors in the Eastern Conference Finals in Game 2 against a tough New York Rangers team in 2014. Although the Canadiens ended up losing the series in six games, Tokarski held his own against Henrik Lundqvist, and earned himself a spot as Carey Price’s backup the following year. Despite his successes in the conference final, the winds took a turn for the horrible next season, finishing with six wins in 12 games and a .910 save percentage.
For someone who rushed onto the scene so splendidly, he went out pretty roughly, being replaced by rookie netminder Mike Condon as back up the next season, ending the season going unclaimed on waivers.
8 Pat Jablonski
American Pat Jablonski had a stint with the Montreal Canadiens in his nine years in the NHL. He was drafted 139th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 1985 and played in the NHL between 1989 and 1998. One of the five teams he played with was the Montreal Canadiens, and they were not his most glorious years. He came to Montreal in November, a month before franchise keeper Patrick Roy was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. Needless to say a tumultuous time in the city.
He shared the net with Jocelyn Thibault, also on this list, which probably gives you an idea on how bad the goalie situation was in Montreal after Roy’s departure. Jablonski posted a 9-15-8 record with a 3.33 GAA over two seasons before being traded to the Phoenix Coyotes.
7 Ron Tugnutt
Ron Tugnutt made a career in the NHL bouncing around several teams between 1987 and 2004. His stint with the Canadiens didn’t consist of much, playing a total of 15 games with the team over two seasons, earning himself just three meagre wins in the process and a whooping 42 goals against. He was acquired by the Canadiens in order to serve as Patrick Roy’s backup, but his performance suffered during his time with the Canadiens. He would be replaced the next season and actually considered retiring, opting however for a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals.
6 Jean-Claude Bergeron
Jean-Claude Bergeron was drafted 104th overall in the 5th round by the Montreal Canadiens in 1988 and played just 18 games with the team. I’m thinking he was limited to 18 games because of his .862 save percentage and 3.76 GAA, numbers that will get you nowhere fast in the NHL. His first games with the Canadiens were so bad that he spent the next four years in the minors between the AHL and IHL, before getting a few games in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning over two seasons, and playing just one game for the Los Angeles Kings later on in his career. The 47-year old from Hauterive, Quebec, played his last hockey in the QSPHL before hanging up his skates for good in 2000.
5 Claude Bourque
The Montreal Canadiens are an old team, therefore we travel almost 80 years into the past to the late 1930s and visit Claude Bourque, a goalie that played 61 of his 62 NHL games in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, posting a less than mediocre 16-37-8 record with a 3.01 GAA. He did however get to play two seasons along Hall of Famer Toe Blake. Bourque shared most of his time in nets for the first season, but he played 36 games of his 61 games in his second season, posting a worse record than his first season with only nine wins and 24 losses.
4 Bert Gardiner
Gardiner played 144 games in NHL split between four of the original six teams, one of those being the Montreal Canadiens. Bert played 52 games with the Montreal Canadiens after being acquired from the New York Rangers for Claude Bourque and cold, hard cash. In 52 games, 14 wins and 31 losses isn’t really much to be proud of. He also played three games in the 1941 playoffs, allowing eight goals in thee games and losing two of those in the meanwhile. The goaltender was born in 1913 in Saskatoon and passed away in 2001 at 88 years old.
3 Jose Theodore
A lot of Montreal Canadiens fans have a bit of a love-hate type relationship with Jose Theodore. The Laval native was drafted 44th overall in the 1994 draft and played eight full seasons with the Canadiens before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche. His best year was by far in 2001-02, where he took home the Vezina and Hart Trophy, finishing the year with a .931 save percentage. That was by far his best season, with his numbers falling drastically next year.
After the 2002 season, the hype in the city reminded everyone of 1986, when Roy captured the hearts of the fans. For Theodore, after a dismal 2006 season, the organization knew that perhaps they would never see the 2002 Jose Theodore, and shipped him off to Colorado. Perhaps it was the hometown pressure, but he was never really well-liked after leaving Montreal.
2 Peter Budaj
Peter Budaj was definitely a goalie to simply forget for the Montreal Canadiens. Although he was never a starter here, always backing up the great Carey Price. He had his moments, but he often when he was bad, he was baaaadd. Don’t get me started on the playoffs. Where Tokarski made his entrance with the Habs is where Budaj made his exit. When Price went down in Game 1 of the Conference Finals, Budaj was the official back up at the time, and Habs fans grudgingly watched as they figured Budaj would get the remainder of the starts. However, poor previous performances prompted coach Michel Therrien to risk it all and go with Tokarski, and that’s the day Budaj was done with the Canadiens, playing the next season with the Saint John’s Icecaps in the AHL.
1 Charlie Sands
You’ll probably remember me mentioning Charlie Sands in the introduction. Here’s his story. Charlie Sands played 12 seasons in the NHL between the Leafs, Bruins, Rangers and Habs, and even won a Stanley Cup with Boston in 1939. The thing is, Sands was a right winger, and he played every singe game of his career as a forward. All except one. In a time in the NHL when a player was assigned to replace an injured goalie, Sands replaced injured Wilf Crude (also on the list) with 25 minutes left in the game, allowing five goals in a 10-1 loss, and going down in history with 12.00 GAA. Technically he shouldn’t be included on this list, but that 12.00 GAA is official so I had no choice.