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Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Roy’

With the 100th Montreal Canadiens season underway and nostalgia all about,  I got to thinking about my favourite Habs players that I have seen in my lifetime. These guys have run the spectrum, from pluggers and grinders to bonafide superstars. Some of these players were with Montreal for a long time, some  just a short while and others were winding down stellar careers with Les Glorieux.

So, listed here,  is my personal all-time Montreal Canadiens team from 1982 to 2008. Why this period? It around 1982 when I finally began to understand hockey and the greatness of players. They were no longer merely skaters on the tv screen. I had finally begun to understand what makes a player great and another normal.

I also included a “Black Aces” squad, these were players that did not make the final cut but would be on the “practice squad”.  Let me know what you think overall, if you agree or disagree etc.

Here we go: 

CENTRE

Vincent Damphousse – helped lead the Habs to their last Stanley Cup in 1993- his skill and savvy play solidified the Habs down the middle.

 

Bobby Smith – the big guy was the Habs number one centre on the 1986 Cup winning team. The 6’4′ Smith took all the major draws and drew a lot of attention. The Habs have not had a centre with his size and skill since he him.

 

Guy Carbonneau – they basically renamed the Selke Trophy the Guy Carbonneau Trophy because of Carbo’s masterful defensive play as a forward. He was the key shut down guy and a leader on both the 86 and 93 Cup winning teams. His trade to St. Louis in 1994 for Jim Montgomery- remember him (he only PLAYED FIVE GAMES with Habs before being released)???- should have landed then Habs GM Serge Savard a psych-ward visit.

 

 

Saku Koivu – The heart and soul of the Habs over the last decade. He had been both an inspirational leaders and role model, worthy of the captain’s “C” on his sweater. 

 

LEFT WING

 

Mats Naslund– The Little Viking – by far one of the most skilled and crafty wingers on Habs teams which were short on such skill. Carried the offence for quite awhile as other players aged and faltered.

 

 

Bob Gainey – One of the greatest two-way players of all-time. His leadership and savyy was core to the Habs win in 1986.

 

 

Mike McPhee – A grinder, a plugger, played hard and did a lot of dirty work in the corners for the Habs. A key grinder on the 86 team. Also, had the best moustache in recent Habs memory.

 

Kirk Muller – Captian Kirk. Talk about a guy who played with heart and was key at both ends of the ice. His skill may have been rusting up by the time he hit Montreal but he still delivered game in and game out.

 

RIGHT WING

 

Guy Lafleur – The Flower. Sure his bloom was fading by the time I could appreciate, from 1982 and on, but he still was captivating to watch. He gave so much to the Habs and ommitting him from this list would be folly.

 

Alex Kovalev – What a talent. No denying his talent and shot. If he only he could break some selfish bad habits. However, when he has the puck, no one can ignore him from that wicked shot to tape-to-tape passes, you watch his every move when he has the puck.

 

 

Claude Lemieux – One of the best leaders, through action, of recent Habs squads. Sure he played gritty and dirty at times but he was a leader and most importantly a winner. When he was on the ice, the Habs always had a chance to win.

 

Mark Recchi – The Wrecker. Arrived through the Leclair trade with a lot of pressure on him. He gave his all. Was fun to watch streaking down the side then cutting through the slot. Played way bigger than his reported 5’10’ frame.

 

 

DEFENCE

 

Larry Robinson – Big Bird on D. He was still making solid end-to-end rushes in 1984. His steady work and leadrship help seal the 86 cup win.

 

Chris Chelios – Amazing to think Chelios was once a Hab and we gave him up for an aging Denis Savard. Chelios’ skill, passing and powerplay work was top notch.  

 

Petr Svboda – Was not the most physical defenceman but his passing and puck movement was key to Habs teams.

 

Craig Ludwig – A rock on D. Was not the most mobile defenceman but he was a tough guy, a rock in front of the net and in the corners.

 

Andrei Markov – Likely the most talented Habs defenceman since Chelios and Desjardins. Markov has grown into his D role and is a threat both offensively and defensively.

 

Eric Desjardins – Was one of the most talented Habs D since the 1970s. Was a leader, incredible on the power play point and could peel of a rush anytime. His contributions in the 93 cup are historic.

 

 

GOALTENDER

 

 Patrick Roy – The greatest money goalie of all time, one of the top 3 goalies ever, no matter what the criteria. Won two Conn Smythes and was the lynchpin to the last two Habs cups- need we say more?

 

Jose Theodore – Took Habs fans on a special ride. Was a rock in the net for some time under the glaring media lights of Montreal. He won a Hart Trophy and Vezina and was simply the best in the NHL for a two year span.

 

Black Aces:

 

RW Stephane Richer

G  Brian Hayward

D Sheldon Souray

D Matthieu Schneider

C Doug Gilmour

C Brian Skrudland

RW Jon Leclair

D Craig Rivet

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ROY vs. CLARK

The fact both Patrick Roy and Wendel Clark had ceremonies honouring them on the same night was a disgrace and disservice to hockey fans. Sure, people will say a Hab fan will not care about a Leaf ceremony and vice versa but these two players crossed all tribal barriers. CBC was a joke in not televising the Habs game nationwide and MLSE is a bigger joke for organizing the Clark ceremony for the same night as the Roy ceremony. Ask yourself…would MLSE have organized such a night for Clark if it were Steve Yzerman number retirement night in Detroit? Likely not.

The Roy ceremony was classy and the young goalies taking to the ice was a nice touch. Seeing Jean Perron, Pat Burns and Jacques Demers again was a real treat, as was seeing all the Hab players wearing #33. In the end, seeing Patrick on more time with a Bleu, Blanc and Rouge  sweater on again was the most satisfying sight for me.

Globe and Mail

Photo: Globe and Mail

I did not watch the Wendel Clark ceremony and it is not because I do not like Wendel. In fact, he is behind Borje Salming as my favourite Leaf ever. On some horrible teams and during dark days, Wendel was both the heart and soul of the Maple Laughs and the lone ray of hope. The following video is an awesome compilation of what I loved about Wendel and I do not care that he was a Leaf, he was great to watch.

Ultimately, the two ceremonies also indicated how low the bar is set in Toronto that they actually have to manufacture a reason to celebrate. The Habs have had plenty of players like Wendel over the years but none are recognized in the rafters along with the greats. The standard in Montreal to be recognized as one of the greats is actual greatness, not just being a fan favourite on some bad teams.

Both players deserved their nights separate from one another.

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pat
I have worshipped at the altar of Patrick Roy.

When the tall, lanky #33, with his plain white mask took to the Canadiens crease in the magical 1986 Cup-winning season, I was sold, my favourite sporting hero was set.

Growing up, usually in every street hockey game, I played goal and imagined I was one of the Habs goalies at that time. Sometimes I was Richard Sevigny. For one exciting playoff, I was Steve Penney. Then, for a bit Rick Walmsley was my guy. I would reach back to the great Ken Dryden, but he was not playing anymore at that time and I needed a contemporary hero of Les Glorieux. Cue, Roy’s rookie season and the 1986 Stanley Cup run.

His legend is incredible and undeniable. The two cup runs with Habs and then two with Avs, three Conn Smythe trophies along the way as well, are embedded in my mind. His miscues as well are there, but you only become so great by taking great risks and Patrick did that.

My ticket from that fateful night.

My ticket from that fateful night.

My Patrick Roy story takes place Saturday, Dec. 2, 1995, at the Montreal Forum. Yes, the fateful night Roy bid adieu to the Habs after being shell-shocked by the Detroit Red Wings. You see, after years of dreaming about it, I finally got the chance to go see a Habs game at the hallowed Forum. Go figure, I finally get the chance to see my hockey hero in the flesh and it turns out to be the last game he plays in a Habs uniform.

Detroit was running circles around the Habs that night. Montreal’s defence was no where to be seen and Roy was not at his best. Montreal looked like a Junior A team against Detroit that night. The crowd was relentless that night with Roy. During the tv commercial breaks they just cursed and booed him and the Habs, but mostly him, without mercy. There I am thinking, “This is my hero. This Patrick Roy. Have you guys forgotten what he did for us?”

There was a serious distaste in the mouth of Habs fans at that time, the ugly two-headed monster of Mario Tremblay coaching and Rejean Houle at G.M had left us wanting more. In one fateful night, Habs fans turned that distaste and rage, with a team which had gone off the rails, and unleashed everything on their superstar, St. Patrick.

I will always remember Patrick making gestures to appease the crowd both during the game, after a save and during the commercial breaks. The more he did, the worse the abuse got. I would look to the bench to see if the hook was coming and it just would not come. The team deflated under the Red Wing onslaught, the boos of the crowd and their sagging superstar.

When the hook did finally come and I saw Roy skate off the ice, in a Habs uniform for the last time, I was devastated. When I saw him walk past Tremblay, and lean in to talk to Ronald Corey (to utter his fateful statement of never playing as a Hab again), you just knew things were not right.

After the game ended and we hung around the Forum, soaking in the history of the arena and talking with other Habs fans, I got lucky enough to meet Montreal great Jean Beliveau at rinkside. Imagine, meeting this legend on such a night after watching my hero get blasted. As I got Beliveau’s autograph and had a photo taken with him, we talked about the game. I asked Beliveau what he thought about the game and he said, “You cannot win them all. Patrick is a great goalie. We will get better.”

Meeting Beliveau and getting his autograph after a short chat.

Meeting Beliveau and getting his autograph after a short chat.

Well, he did get better but in Colorado and I followed as many of those saves and escapades of his as I could. He is one of the greatest ever. Brodeur may pass his numbers but the two Habs teams Roy took to Cup glory were never defensive juggernauts as the Devils. The Avs team Roy put over the top had wars against great champion-calibre Detroit Red Wing teams and, ultimately, Roy outduelled Brodeur in the one cup final they met.

His number is the 15th number to be retired by the Habs and in their 100th year, how fitting that it is. Patrick Roy will always remain #1 with me.

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The Montreal Canadiens had their 100th home opener televised on TSN and what a class ceremony and even classier treatment by TSN of the moment.

For a station based in Toronto to recognize and shower the Canadiens, Les Glorieux, in the praise and accolades they deserve was impressive to watch. Unlike CBC which does everything but have its staff wear Toronto Maple Laughs jerseys during broadcasts, the TSN crew did a bang up job.

They let the crowd cheer and holler during the opening ceremonies. They broadcast all of the Ring of Honour ceremony. They recognized the greatness of the most decorated hockey franchise on the planet. 24 cups in 100 years of existence are hard to ignore but they usually are here in  Toronto.  Before the game Gord Miller had a great interview with Guy Lafleur. During an intermission, their hockey panel answered the question: who is the greatest Canadiens goalie ever? Bob McKenzie said Jacques Plante, Keith Jones said Ken Dryden and John Tortarella said Patrick Roy.

Dave Hodge had an incredible segment in which he recognized a majority of the Habs greats via their nickname and he summed up the team’s greatness appropriately. He said the Habs may have not had the success of their past of late but they are the standard, they are the team all other teams strive to become…and it took 100 years to create that standard and class that is the Montreal Canadiens.

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More Leaf fans will be resigned to this fans fate as the Leafs prepare for more losing.

More Leaf fans will be resigned to this fan's fate-more losing.

To no one’s surprise media in Leaf Nation have jumped all over Ron Wilson’s comments that wins and losses and won’t matter to him this season. This only adds to Cliff Fletcher’s earlier assertions that low expectations are the best expectations.

Ahh do you all remember Grabovski pitter pattering down the halls of the Bell Centre...no??..ya, i figured, nor do I.

Ahh do you all remember Grabovski pitter pattering down the halls of the Bell Centre...no??..ya, i figured, nor do I.

As just a hockey fan in Maple Laugh-land, management’s approach makes sense. You look at the Leaf roster and for the first time decades, they are actually trying to rebuild for the future. They have kids, they may not all be top notch prospects, but there is a sense of rebuilding. Heck, they have our throw-away Grabovski.  This process won’t deliver a cup anytime soon, but at least they are trying and Wilson is a good coach to have at the helm.

The moment the Hab world stood still and King Roy left the throne for good. Thanks Mario and Reggie- two of the biggest management mistakes in Habs history, enough to overshadow their on-ice contributions.

The moment the Hab world stood still and King Roy left the throne for good. Thanks Mario and Reggie- two of the biggest management mistakes in Habs history, enough to overshadow their on-ice contributions.

This rebuilding of the Leafs reminds me of the recent Hab dark days when were saddled with Rejean Houle at GM and Tremblay behind the bench. Things just went from bad to worse. We lost Patrick, had dead wood veterans and not enough kids playing. With some patience, shrewd scouting and Gainey at the helm, we have steered things around.

Leafs have now gone on a youth movement to help counter the increase Depends costs from the past years.

The Leafs have now gone on a youth movement to counter the Depends costs from past years.

The Habs have never dabbled in the big free agent market as the Leafs for “quick fix” additions, so some serious foundation was set for our current turnaround and success. Leaf fans, prepare yourselves to see losses mount but at least the light at the tunnel is not a train anymore…from what we can tell!

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After 34 years of living among Leaf Nation as a Habs Fan, some things just need to be made clear. The delusion of the Maple Laugh followers, who think each year could be “THE YEAR” the Stanley Cup is coming back to the Big Smoke, has gone from comical to just plain sad over the years.

1967 was a long time ago folks and the Habs, let alone many other expansion teams, have managed to capture the Holy Grail of hockey at least once. Blame Ballard. Blame Stavro. Blame Peddie and MLSE. Anyway you spin it, the Leafs have been laughable for a long time.

Now that the niceties are out of the way, here are some things which are facts that the Leaf Nation fail to grasp:

1. The Montreal Canadiens, Les Glorieux, are the New York Yankees of hockey, NOT the blue and white, but mostly black and blue, Maple Leafs. Obviously, most Leaf fans and spinsters failed math- the Habs have won 24 Stanley Cups, more than any other NHL team, Toronto has 11. The Yankees have 26 World Series titles, more than any other baseball team. End of argument.

Start counting them..1..2..3..4...

Start counting them..1..2..3..4...

 2. The Habs have won 10 Stanley Cups since the league expanded beyond six teams..the Leafs have won none.  This is just another stat to stop this insane talk that Toronto is the ultimate “hockeytown”, the ultimate franchise, the Yankees of hockey. Ahem…winning nothing in 41 years is nothing to be proud of.

 

A tribute? More like a memorial to something not happening again anytime soon.

A tribute? More like a memorial to something not happening again anytime soon.

3. The Habs would have defeated the Leafs in the 1992-93 playoffs if they had met in the final. Please get over the fact that poor carrot-top referee Kerry Fraser did not call a penalty on The Great One when he clipped “The Killer” – Doug Gilmour. If you were good enough to have the Kings on the ropes that year, and not able close the deal in Game 6 or 7 of the semifinal, there is no one to blame but yourselves. Even if you had made the final, no one could have stopped Patrick Roy and his incredible goaltending that playoff season. The man was on a crusade to deliver the Habs another cup and another Conn Smythe trophy for himself. Do you really think Felix Potvin could have out-duelled Patrick? Roy notched 10 straight overtime wins and…oh ya- helped lead the defeat of the same Kings the Leafs could not put away in seven games.

 

Hey mom, look what I got, says Roy.

Hey mom, look what I got, says Roy.

4. One of your recent great captains, Doug Gilmour, looked way better in a Habs uniform than he did in a Leafs one. I said “look” before some of you have a heart attack or throw something at your monitor. I do not deny he owned Toronto while here, but the Hab uniform sure looked sweet on him and he was an inspirational leader the one year with Montreal as Saku was out battling stomach cancer.

The Killer in a Habs uniform.

The Killer in a Habs uniform.

 5. Kirk Muller should be referred to as a former Hab, not a former Leaf, he helped lead the Habs to that 1992-93 cup and had some of his best years in Montreal.

 

6. The Leafs blew it as it concerns Vincent Damphousse. One of their best draft choices in the 1980s- Toronto gave up on him after one year and dealt him to Edmonton. He produced every where he went and by the time he hit Montreal, becoming captian there, yup, you guessed it, he helped the blue, blanc and rouge to the 1992-93 cup.

Thanks for the help Vinny!

Thanks for the help Vinny!

7. It is cheaper for Leaf fans to see a Habs-Leafs game in Montreal than here in Toronto, a sad state of affairs. You want to go to Montreal anyway, because the fans are passionate and involved in the game more than they ever are in Toronto. Don’t get me wrong, there are great Leafs fans, they problem is they have been priced right out of the building. Also, the night life and food in Montreal is way better anyway.

 

8. The Habs are the classiest organization in hockey. They retire the numbers of their great players and do not just “honour them”. Also, the Habs care about their relations with the past, the Leafs are slowly getting to it but look at the damage done to Dave Keon and the Darryl Sittler in the past.

Big Bird Larry Robinson gives a wave when his #19 was retired. New Jersey boss Lou Lamoriello is on the right, including him was a classy move, you cannot expect any less from the Habs.

'Big Bird" Larry Robinson gives a wave when his #19 was retired. New Jersey boss Lou Lamoriello is on the right, including him was a classy move, you cannot expect any less from the Habs.

 9. Habs fans sing “ole, ole, ole” because they are FANS and get involved in the game. Montreal cannot help their European roots and it beats sitting on your hands and being egged on by a monitor to cheer for your team. It does not matter that it used to be a soccer chant, it is a sporting chant and it beats the call of “Argooooos” at any Leaf game you go to. Also, I guess it has been so long since Leaf fans celebrated anything, that they forgot what a celebration entails.

 

 

 

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