The Habs have had plenty of impact players from Ontario including numerous Hall of Famers. However, only a select six were voting to Montreal’s All-Time Ontario line.
Voters were asked to pick three forwards, two defencemen, and one goalie.
Bob Gainey (64.2% of votes): While Gainey was never a prolific scorer (although he did manage four seasons of 20 goals or more), he was an elite defensive forward and in the prime of his career, there was no one better in that role than he was. He won four straight Selke Trophies from 1977-78 through 1980-81 and was the runner up the next year. Gainey was a key part of five Stanley Cup-winning teams and served as team captain for the final eight seasons of his career, one of the longest tenures in franchise history. All of this made him a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1992 and in the NHL’s centennial season, he was named as one of the top-100 players in league history which made him an obvious selection to this group.
Canadiens Stats: 1,160 GP, 239 goals, 262 assists, 501 points, +201 rating, 585 PIMS, 2,094 shots
Steve Shutt (55.0% of votes): In the prime of his career, Shutt was among the top goal scorers in the league and led the league in that department in 1976-77. While he never won any major individual awards, he was a consistent scoring threat for the better part of a decade which helped push him to eighth on Montreal’s all-time scoring list. He was even more productive in the postseason as he pushed his point per game average over one en route to being a key member of four Cup-winning teams (he won a fifth as largely a reserve player). He wrapped up his career with a partial season in Los Angeles who claimed him off waivers before retiring in 1985. Shutt was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
Canadiens Stats: 871 GP, 408 goals, 368 assists, 776 points, +413 rating, 400 PIMS, 2,276 shots
Howie Morenz (38.7% of votes): Morenz quickly became known as ‘The Stratford Streak’ due to his scoring prowess, blistering speed, and smaller stature that made him one of the early superstars in NHL history. He spent the first 11 years of his career with the Habs (winning three Stanley Cups) before being moved to Chicago. However, after a quick stint with them and the Rangers, he came back to Montreal where tragedy struck. He was hospitalized after suffering a broken leg and died of a blood clot a little more than a month later. Morenz was one of the initial inductees of the Hockey Hall of Fame and was the first Canadiens player to have his sweater retired.
Canadiens Stats: 460 GP, 257 goals, 164 assists, 421 points, 513 PIMS
Larry Robinson (97.2% of votes): There’s a pretty strong case to be made that Robinson is the best defenceman in Canadiens history. He could do it all – defend, play physically, and lead the rush offensively. While plus/minus isn’t as important today as it was then, it’s worth mentioning that he had a season at +120, the second-highest single-season mark in league history. That helped lead him to six Norris Trophy nominations (two wins) and six Stanley Cups along with plenty of other accolades. After 17 seasons with the Habs, he moved on in free agency and spent the final three years with Los Angeles in 1992. Not surprisingly, he was another first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Canadiens Stats: 1,202 GP, 197 goals, 686 assists, 883 points, +692 rating, 706 PIMS, 2,136 shots
P.K. Subban (64.2% of votes): Subban was pressed into action during the 2010 postseason and never looked back as he quickly became a go-to weapon on the back end. He won the Norris Trophy in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign which helped launch him into becoming one of the better offensive defenders in the league for a time. It also helped him land the richest deal for a defender in league history, a mark that held up until recently. Shortly before his no-trade clause kicked in, the Habs moved him to Nashville for Shea Weber, a trade that has been covered plenty so let’s not rehash it here. He had a stellar 2017-18 campaign but tapered off a year later which precipitated a trade to New Jersey where things didn’t go well to put it lightly. While he has struggled recently, there’s no denying that he was a star for the Habs for several seasons.
Canadiens Stats: 434 GP, 63 goals, 215 assists, 278 points, +35 rating, 532 PIMS, 1,082 shots
Ken Dryden (88.3% of votes): Dryden certainly made his mark in the NHL in what wound up being a rather limited time. His first season saw him take over the starting job in the playoffs, earning himself the Conn Smythe Trophy in the process and setting himself up to win the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year the following season, a rare order to say the least. The other six seasons saw him nominated for the Vezina each time with five victories (with a year off along the way to get his law degree). He won six Stanley Cups in eight years and then retired suddenly at the age of 1979. As a result, despite how decorated he was over his tenure, there will always be that ‘what if?’ floating around. Had he stuck around longer, how many more Stanley Cups might he have won? But rather than ponder that, there was certainly plenty to celebrate when it came to Dryden, yet another first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Canadiens Stats: 397 GP, 258-57-74 record, 2.24 GAA, .922 SV%, 46 SO
Be sure to check back next week as we continue with Team Ontario and move to the second line. (This is why there were no ‘Just Missed The Cut’ players to ensure no influence on the next poll.)