The Habs haven’t had a lot of players from British Columbia suit up for them over the years but there have been some notable ones. Here are the results from our top line poll, including something that happened for the first time in this series.
Voters were asked to pick three forwards, two defencemen, and one goalie.
Mark Recchi (83.4% of votes): While Recchi will be known in part for being the return in a bad trade with Philadelphia that saw John LeClair and Eric Desjardins go the other way and also in part for his comments on the Max Pacioretty-Zdeno Chara incident, the fact remains that he was productive in his stint with the Habs. In his three full seasons with the team, he finished first, second, and third in scoring and was a legitimate top-line forward. In 1999, he was dealt back to Philly in another bad move, one that netted them Dainius Zubrus and a pair of draft picks that amounted to nothing. Recchi went on to play 11 more years after leaving the Canadiens with five different teams.
Canadiens Stats: 346 GP, 120 goals, 202 assists, 322 points, +23 rating, 222 PIMS, 865 shots
Ryan Walter (68.9% of votes): Walter was another player that was acquired in a trade that Montreal would probably like a mulligan on (Rod Langway and Doug Jarvis were among the players that went the other way) but that doesn’t take away from what he did with the Canadiens. He had a strong season offensively in his first season with the team and then settled into a steady two-way role for the better part of a decade. Walter left Montreal in the 1991 offseason to sign closer to home in Vancouver before calling it a career following the Habs’ Cup-winning 1992-93 campaign.
Canadiens Stats: 604 GP, 141 goals, 208 assists, 349 points, +11 rating, 419 PIMS, 958 shots
Russ Courtnall (61.0% of votes): Courtnall made an immediate impact offensively for Montreal after being acquired from Toronto in 1988 and was one of their top scorers in that postseason. Two years later, he led the team in scoring. However, an injury-plagued 1991-92 season limited him to just 27 games and helped pave the way for his departure. Courtnall was traded late in the 1992 offseason to Minnesota and went on to have two straight career years offensively after the move. However, the deal worked out well for the Habs as Brian Bellows who was a big part of Montreal’s Cup run the following season. After leaving Dallas (Minnesota moved there after his first season), Courtnall went on to the Canucks, Rangers, and Kings and retired in 1999. His nephew, Justin, spent a year in Montreal’s minor league system as he played in 62 games with Hamilton in 2012-13.
Canadiens Stats: 250 GP, 82 goals, 113 assists, 195 points, +36 rating, 77 PIMS, 772 shots
John Ferguson (61.0% of votes): I didn’t think we’d see a tie at any point in this series but here we are. While Ferguson won’t be remembered as a top-end scorer, he was talented enough to average 18 goals per season over his tenure with the Canadiens while being a physical and pugilistic force as he protected his more skilled linemates. It took a while for him to make it to the NHL as he didn’t debut until he was 25 and the Habs were the only team he played with as he retired at 33 as one of the most memorable and popular power forwards in Montreal. His penalty minute total is fifth-most in team history.
Canadiens Stats: 500 GP, 145 goals, 158 assists, 303 points, +83 rating, 1,216 PIMS, 1,144 shots
Shea Weber (97.5% of votes): While Weber came to the Habs in somewhat controversial fashion in a one-for-one swap for P.K. Subban, he has certainly been a huge part of their back end since arriving in 2016. He has logged over 24 minutes a night on average since being acquired and his 52 goals in that time are tied for the seventh-most among NHL blueliners. Weber was also named as Montreal’s captain in 2018 following the trade of Max Pacioretty. At 34, it’s unknown how much longer he’ll be able to shoulder the workload of a number one defender but with six years left on his contract after this one, he figures to be a big part of Montreal’s back end for a long time yet.
Canadiens Stats: 227 GP, 52 goals, 75 assists, 127 points, +35 rating, 113 PIMS, 609 shots
Josh Gorges (97.1% of votes): Unlike others on this list, Gorges will be remembered as being part of one of Montreal’s better trades with him coming along with the pick to take Max Pacioretty in exchange for Craig Rivet. Instead of just being a depth defender like he was in San Jose, Gorges quickly worked his way into a top-four shutdown opportunity, a role he basically held for the six full seasons he was with the team. He was also a big part of Montreal’s leadership group. Gorges was initially dealt to Toronto in 2014 but nixed that by invoking his no-trade clause which sits well with a big chunk of Montreal’s fan base. He was then moved to Buffalo where he played out the final four years of his contract before retiring at 33.
Canadiens Stats: 464 GP, 13 goals, 75 assists, 88 points, +34 rating, 192 PIMS, 313 shots, 1,042 blocks
Next Up In Votes: Jordie Benn
Carey Price (97.1% of votes): Like the defencemen, this was pretty much a no-brainer. Price has been the Habs’ franchise player for more than a decade now. He started out in more of a platoon role and played through his struggles after making the jump as a 20-year-old but in the prime of his career, he was the number one goalie in the league by a considerable margin. Price’s numbers have dipped in recent years but he’s still among the better netminders in the league; his presence alone apparently had Pittsburgh expressing concern about the initial 2 of 3 play-in series which says a lot. A 13-year Montreal veteran, Price is the franchise leader in games played, wins, losses, and saves while sitting third in shutouts. With six years left on his deal and as the highest-paid goalie in league history, there’s a good chance he’ll be spending most (if not all) of that with the Canadiens which might be enough to surpass George Hainsworth for the lead in shutouts as well.
Canadiens Stats: 682 GP, 348-250-74 record, 2.49 GAA, .917 SV%, 48 shutouts
Next Up In Votes: Cesare Maniago
Be sure to check back on Monday for the next Canadian edition of our poll series.