The Canadiens: Then vs. Now

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The Montreal Canadiens are often considered the most decorated team in the history of the NHL. And why wouldn’t they be? 23 Stanley Cups since the NHL started and one before the NHL even existed. Obviously in their 104 year history, the Canadiens have completed a lot. It’s common knowledge to any hockey fan. There have been great Canadiens teams over the years, including the record holding Canadiens in the 50’s being the only team in the NHL to ever win five Stanley Cups in a row from 1956 to 1960. However, to me, and I’m sure to many, the greatest Canadiens come from the 1970’s. The team consisting of the likes of players such as Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, “The Road Runner” Yvan Cournoyer, and probably most notably, Ken Dryden. Dryden possibly being the greatest goaltender the game has ever seen; helping the Canadiens to win 6 Stanley Cups in only 8 years and also being a 5-time Vezina Trophy winner. These Canadiens were also the ones to take down the “Broad Street Bullies” in 4 games straight in the Stanley Cup Final. A team who had monsters like Schultz. They were also the only other team besides the Flyers ¬†that didn’t record a loss against the Soviet Red Army team in the 75-76 Super Series.

Those Canadiens were a great team. So aside from dynasties being a thing of the past, what’s changed for our team today? A lot of people say that it’s size; that we don’t have the size to compete with the rest of the NHL, having a good majority of what would be considered small in the NHL. Others will say that we don’t have enough offense. And some will say we have a weak defense that breaks down time and time again. While all of these things could contribute to why we aren’t as competitive as we used to be in our past, I don’t think any of them are the main reason. In fact, to me, the main reason is a combination of lack of heart, pride and ¬†understanding what the Canadiens franchise is all about.

If you do some research on the Canadiens in the 70’s, such as watching videos of game play, you will notice that the Canadiens of the past are just utterly relentless. They were that team that every team wants to be. The one that plays strongly for a solid 60 minutes plus. They had a solid offense that pushed no matter what the score was. They didn’t let up. The defense defended well when they had to and, well… if all else failed, the team had Ken Dryden there with the answer to almost any player who dared to challenge him.

With many of the players on the Canadiens roster today, you have to wonder why they can’t be the Stanley Cup Champions. You have to wonder what is holding them back. A solid goaltender that is easily a future Hall Of Famer in Carey Price, easily some of the top defencemen in the game including our Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban and strong offensive forwards like Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. The truth of the matter is, you need a whole team to win a Cup. 20+ guys that will back each other up and all put in 110% every game. The sad part is that for some, it seems like they’re just there to collect a paycheck. The thought of that is just disgusting.

I’m writing this article coming off of a 3-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. This game was an example of who we were. Tonight, we showed heart that we haven’t shown for a while. We can be the best again when the team realizes that this is the only way to play when you’re a Canadiens player.

In my opinion, when you’re a Montreal Canadien player or fan, you should understand what the franchise is about. It’s not about being just another of the 30 NHL teams. It isn’t about a paycheck. It’s not about throwing in the towel during a game because you’re down by a few goals. It’s about being the best team in NHL history. It’s about being an Original Six team. It’s about the 24 Stanley Cups. It’s about adding to those 24 Stanley Cups. It’s about the heart and pride of being a Canadien and playing for the CH on your chest.

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3 Responses to The Canadiens: Then vs. Now

  1. The really big difference between the teams of the 1970s and the teams of today is that the 1970s teams had great players, and today’s team had nowhere near the talent. It’s not about heart, it’s not giving 110%, it’s not about collecting a pay cheque. It’s about being a gifted hockey player as opposed to being an average hockey player. Go back and look at the drafts the Canadiens had in the 1960s and 1970s. Research the “special deal” they had with the NHL.

    On the current Habs team, only Subban would have been a top starter on the teams of the late 1970s. You might see Plekanec as a fourth line centre, but maybe not. Carey Price would not have started ahead of Dryden, or Patrick Roy, either.

    in he 1970s, guys like Lars Eller would play their whole career in Hamilton. That’s the difference. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    Chet Pomeroy January 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm Reply
    • I’m going to have to disagree. Even if that is the case, it’s the case with every team in the NHL. So they should still be just as competitive as any other players in the NHL. And the past two games, with the way they’ve been playing, they could easily be the best. But we all have our opinions, I suppose.

      Cody Bernard February 1, 2014 at 2:04 am Reply
  2. Not at all. Who exactly do the Habs have that generate the same output as Crosby-Malkin, or Getzlaf-Perry, or Toews-Sharp???No one. That was my point. The Habs do not have any top scorers, and haven’t since the 1970s.

    Chet Pomeroy February 1, 2014 at 12:08 pm Reply

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