Several Hall of Famers highlighted Montreal’s top Ontario line. Even more weren’t selected but some of them were voted onto their second unit. Here’s who made the cut.
As a refresher, the top line as voted by our readers was as follows:
Forwards: Bob Gainey, Steve Shutt, Howie Morenz
Defence: Larry Robinson, P.K. Subban
Goaltender: Ken Dryden
Voters were asked to pick three forwards, two defencemen, and one goalie.
Toe Blake (54.6% of votes) – It’s not very often that one can say the Habs traded someone to Montreal to get a player but that’s what happened here with Blake as the Canadiens moved veteran goalie Lorne Chabot to the Maroons for Blake and two other players. It’s safe to say that the Habs won that deal. It took him a few years to really establish himself but by the 1938-39 season, he was basically a point per game player for the next decade. Along the way, he picked up a pair of Stanley Cups and a Hart Trophy. He left Montreal and the NHL in 1948 and played in the AHL (as a player-coach) and QSHL before calling it a career in 1951. Blake was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966 and by then, he was a seven-time Cup winner with the Habs as a coach.
Canadiens Stats: 569 GP, 235 goals, 294 assists, 529 points, 282 PIMS
Kirk Muller (54.3% of votes) – Muller wasn’t with the Habs for long but he was a key player while he was around. He was still in his offensive prime when he was acquired from New Jersey which helped offset Stephane Richer’s inclusion in the deal but Muller also provided some grit and improved all-around play. Muller was Montreal’s second-leading scorer in both the regular season and playoffs in their 1993 Stanley Cup victory which likely helped earn him a spot here over some other veterans who have made the Hall of Fame. The Canadiens moved Muller to the Islanders in 1995 and he went on to play seven more seasons before retiring in 2003. Like Blake, he has spent time behind the bench for the Habs as well and is in his second stint with the team in that capacity, currently serving as an Associate Coach.
Canadiens Stats: 267 GP, 104 goals, 143 assists, 247 points, +1 rating, 282 PIMS, 671 shots
Peter Mahovlich (48.6% of votes) – The ‘Little M’ carved out a pretty strong career for himself and unlike his brother, most of it was spent in a Montreal uniform. After struggling to find his footing with Detroit who drafted him second overall in 1963, the Habs acquired him six years later and things took off rather quickly. By the mid-1970’s, he was among the top offensive threats in the NHL, finishing in the top six in league scoring in both 1974-75 and 1975-76. While Mahovlich never won any individual awards with the Habs, he picked up four Stanley Cups before being moved to Pittsburgh in 1977 for Pierre Larouche who had several good seasons in Montreal. Mahovlich wrapped up his NHL career in 1981 with Detroit and hung up his skates for good in 1986.
Canadiens Stats: 580 GP, 223 goals, 346 assists, 569 points, +267 rating, 695 PIMS, 1,448 shots
Just Missed The Cut: Newsy Lalonde
Rick Green (71.1% of votes) – By the time the Habs acquired Green as part of the Rod Langway trade back in 1982, he was more of a stay-at-home defender relative to his production with Washington. However, Green was quite effective in that role for the better part of his seven-year stint with the team. Included in that was a Stanley Cup victory back in 1986 and a trip to the Final in 1989. Green went to play in Italy the following year before coming back to the NHL with Detroit. While his numbers weren’t flashy, he was an effective blueliner for the Habs.
Canadiens Stats: 399 GP, 10 goals, 79 assists, 89 points, +40 rating, 183 PIMS, 314 shots
Craig Rivet (69.2% of votes) – For a while, it looked like Rivet’s ceiling was going to be as a depth defender, he turned things around near the turn of the millennium. He wound up spending a lot of time in a top-four role after that and there were times he became more of an offensive threat (with Andrei Markov largely to thank for that). Rivet was largely a consistent defensive and physical presence at a time where Montreal’s back end had a fair bit of turnover before he too was dealt. He went to San Jose near the 2007 trade deadline for Josh Gorges and the pick used to take Max Pacioretty, a deal that worked out quite well for the Habs. Meanwhile, Rivet spent three more seasons in the NHL after being moved between Buffalo and Columbus before retiring in 2012 after a season of ECHL play.
Canadiens Stats: 653 GP, 39 goals, 112 assists, 151 points, -1 rating, 795 PIMS, 677 shots
Just Missed The Cut: Jack Laviolette
Bill Durnan (34.9% of votes) – Even by older standards where players didn’t typically debut in the NHL as quick as they do now, the fact that Durnan had to wait until his age-28 year to begin his NHL career is intriguing. But his numbers in the QSHL, quite frankly, weren’t good. All of that changed when he joined the Habs, however. Durnan immediately ascended to the number one role and made the most of his opportunity. In seven seasons with the team, he won six Vezina Trophies, led the league in GAA six times, minutes five times, and wins on four separate occasions. Along the way, he picked up two Stanley Cups while posting a sterling 2.07 GAA in his playoff career which was lower than his 2.36 regular season mark. Durnan called it a career in 1950 and while his time with the Habs was relatively short-lived, he made quite an impact along the way, earning himself a Hall of Fame induction in 1964.
Canadiens Stats: 383 GP, 208-112-62 record, 2.36 GAA, 34 shutouts (SV% wasn’t tracked back then)
Just Missed The Cut: George Hainsworth
With the Canadiens soon resuming action, we’re going to put this series on hold for a bit and will resume with Team Quebec whenever they are eliminated.