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TSN.ca's Top 10 Canadiens of All-Time

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TSN.ca Staff
12/4/2008 4:52:10 PM
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The Montreal Canadiens are exactly one year away from their 100th birthday and the party is well underway.

Along the way, TSN.ca pays tribute to Les Glorieux with The Century Club - a year-long archive of stories, recaps and columns by TSN personalities, special features and online video from Canada's Sports Leader.

So many great players have worn le bleu, blanc et rouge over the last 99 years, and with hockey's most storied and decorated franchise counting down the final 365 days towards their centennial, TSN and TSN.ca kick off the festivities with a countdown of the Top 10 Canadiens of All-Time.

10. Ken Dryden - Always calm and collected in front of the net, the Cornell graduate accomplished more in eight seasons with the Canadiens than others have in twice the time. With a 258-57-74 career record with 46 shutouts and a 2.24 goals-against average, he captured the Vezina Trophy five times and was also a five-time First Team All-Star. More importanly, he helped lead the Habs to six Stanley Cups in eight seasons - including their improbable championship run in 1971.

9. Henri Richard - The 'Pocket Rocket' won 11 Stanley Cups, more than any other player in NHL history and played on a Stanley Cup winner in more than half the seasons he played. In his career, he scored 358 goals and earned 1,046 points in 1,256 games. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

8. Larry Robinson - 'Big Bird' was the most complete defenceman to ever suit up for the Canadiens. The 6-4, 225-pound tower could dominate you in an offensive game or crush you in a physical game. He played 17 seasons for Montreal, winning the Norris Trophy twice as the league's best defenceman and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1978. He held the NHL record for most playoff games at 227, (later surpassed by Mark Messier), and the most consecutive years in the playoffs with 20.

7. Patrick Roy - In 19 NHL seasons, the lanky goaltender who perfected the butterfly style played in a record 1,029 games and set records for regular season wins (551) and playoff wins (151). He won four Stanley Cups (two with Montreal), three Vezina Trophies as the NHL's top goaltender and three Conn Smythe trophies as playoff MVP. Without Roy's heroics in 1986 and 1993, the Canadiens would have 22 Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters of the Bell Centre instead of 24.

6. Jacques Plante - Plante, who helped guide the Canadiens to five straight Stanley Cups from 1956 to 1960, was known for breaking in the mask along with several other innovations. He was the first goaltender to skate in behind the net to stop the puck for his defencemen, the first to raise his arm on an icing call to let his team know what was happening on the ice, and also perfected a stand-up style of goaltending that cut down the angles and staying square to the shooter. His play between the pipes earned him seven Vezina Trophies and the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in 1962.

5. Howie Morenz - The 'Stratford Streak' was Montreal's first big superstar, scoring 253 goals in his first 11 seasons with the Canadiens before going to the Chicago Black Hawks. He had his best season in 1927-28, winning the scoring championship with 33 goals and 51 points. In his final season with the Canadiens (after returning from Chicago), tragedy struck when he suffered a broken leg during a home game against Chicago. The injury proved to be fatal as he later died from its complications. The Montreal Forum became a shrine as a memorial was held with thousands of fans paying their respects.

4. Guy Lafleur - The former Quebec Rempart arrived with plenty of hype in 1971, drafted first overall by the Canadiens the day after Jean Beliveau retired. After three seasons of struggles, The Flower finally hit his groove with six straight 50-plus goal seasons and 100-plus point seasons and helping guide the Canadiens to four straight Stanley Cups. He was a First Team All-Star and won the scoring title three times, the Hart Trophy twice and the Conn Smythe Trophy once. He has the highest career point and assist totals in team history, as well as the second-highest goal total behind Maurice Richard. 

3. Doug Harvey - Harvey is one of the most celebrated defencemen in NHL history, known for his speedy rushes and near-perfect defensive play. His stellar play at both ends of the ice helped lead the Habs to five straight Stanley Cups from 1956 to 1960. Beginning in 1951-52, he was selected to the All-Star Team for 11 straight seasons. He also won the Norris Trophy seven times in eight years from 1955 to 1962.

2. Jean Beliveau - "Le Gros Bill" was one of the all-time classiest individuals in the NHL on and off the ice, leading the Canadiens to 10 Stanley Cups as a player. He made the First All-Star Team six times and the Second Team on four other occasions. He also captured two Hart Trophies and was the first recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1965.

1. Maurice Richard - The Rocket was the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games and scored 544 goals in the regular season with 82 in the playoffs (including a record six overtime winners that was later surpassed by Joe Sakic). Richard played on eight Stanley Cup-winning teams in Montreal and was captain of the great dynasty team that won five straight from 1956 to 1960. He was elected eight times to the First All-Star Team, six times to the Second Team and played in every NHL All-Star Game from 1947 to 1959. While he didn't have the God-given talent of Guy Lafleur or the gentlemanly nature of Jean Beliveau, The Rocket's passion and competitive spirit has made him the absolute embodiment of Les Canadiens. He was the best player in hockey from the blueline in and was the most prolific goal-scorer of his era.

Who are your picks for the ten greatest Canadiens of all time? Make your own choices below on TSN.ca's Your Call.

Jean Beliveau (Photo: Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)
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