The Montreal Canadiens have six players who have made it into the celebrated 50-goal club. Prior to 1970, the elusive milestone was rarely reached. During the 1970s and 1980s, as seasons became longer, stick blades curved and offense increased, 50-goal seasons became more frequent. By 1980, it had been reached 24 times in NHL history but 76 times in the 1980s alone. Scoring seemed to peak during the 1992-93 season when an unbelievable 14 players exceeded 50 goals.
Listed below, in chronological order, are the Canadiens who have lit the lamp 50 times or more in a single season.
Member of the Habs’ 50-Goal Club
Scored 50 goals in 50 games during the 1944-45 season.
On March 18, 1945, after 49 games, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard had tallied an impressive 49 goals.
The sniper was as obsessed with reaching the 50-goal mark as his opponents were with preventing it. The elbowing, hooking and abuse he faced ratcheted up as his totals grew closer to the magical number. He scored 43 goals in his first 37 games, but only seven goals in his final 13 games.
Game 50 was against the Boston Bruins who were determined to prevent Richard from achieving the feat. They checked him closely, limiting his space and chances. But late in the third period, with the Bruins holding a 2-1 lead, The Rocket would not be denied.
He fired a shot past goaltender Harvey Bennet to become the first NHL player to score 50 goals in a single season and the first to accomplish the milestone marker in only 50 games. Of his 50 goals, 11 came on the power play and seven were game-winners. Individual shooting statistics were not kept at the time.
The Habs defeated the Bruins that night. After netting the tying goal, Richard registered an assist on Toe Blake’s game-winner en route to a 4-2 win.
The Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy
This award was donated to the NHL by the Canadiens in 1998-98 and is named in honor of The Rocket. It’s awarded annually to the leading goal scorer in the NHL.
Scoring 50 in 50
The NHL defines “50 goals in 50 games” to mean that a player scores 50 goals in the team’s first 50 games of the season, not the player’s first 50 (which could differ for health or disciplinary reasons).
Richard was the first player to hold the distinction of scoring 50 in 50, but the feat has been achieved seven other times by four different players.
- 1980-81 – Mike Bossy scored 50 goals in 50 games
- 1981-82 – Wayne Gretzky scored 50 goals in 39 games
- 1983-84 – Wayne Gretzky scored 50 goals in 42 games (61 in 50 games)
- 1984-85 – Wayne Gretzky scored 50 goals in 49 games (53 in 50 games)
- 1988-89 – Mario Lemieux scored 50 goals in 46 (54 in 50 games)
- 1990-91 – Brett Hull scored 50 goals in 49 games (52 in 50 games)
- 1991-92 – Brett Hull scored 50 goals in 50 games
Unofficial 50 in 50 Scorers
The following players scored fifty goals in or before their 50th game (vs. the team’s 50th game) in a single season.
- 1984-85 – Jari Kurri scored 50 goals in 50 games (his team’s 53rd game)
- 1992-93 – Alexander Mogilny scored 50 goals in 46 games (his team’s 53rd game)
- 1992-93 – Mario Lemieux scored 50 goals in 48 games (his team’s 72nd game)
- 1995-96 – Mario Lemieux scored 50 goals in 50 games (his team’s 59th game)
- 1993-94 – Cam Neely scored 50 goals in 44 games (his team’s 66th game)
Boom Boom Geoffrion
Member of the Habs’ 50-Goal Club
Scored 50 goals in 64 during the 1960-61 season.
Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion was the second NHL player and second Canadien to score 50 goals in a single season. During the 1960-61 season, he scored his 50th goal in the 68th game of the 70-game season. However, due to injuries, it was only his 62nd game of the season.
Boom Boom scored his 50th goal in a matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Forum, which was filled to capacity. After a shot off the goal post earlier in the game, he finally beat goaltender Cesare Maniago in the third period.
“As it developed, Beliveau was to start the play leading to ‘The Goal,’ winning a faceoff in the circle, dealing to Gilles Tremblay, who in turn delivered a seeing-eye pass to Geoffrion, once again alone in front of Maniago. This time, Geoffrion didn’t miss.
What followed, while the noise exploded from the sold-out crowd of more than 15,000, was an outpouring of emotion from the players. They leaped on Geoffrion in a red torrent, knocking him off his feet, pounding him on the back as he lay there, tousling his hair while a deluge of programs, hats and shoe rubbers rained onto the Forum ice,” wrote Red Fisher. “It was like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and everybody’s birthday.”
Of his 50 goals that season, 16 of came on the power play and 12 were game winners. He had a 15.82 shooting percentage. He had his named engraved a second time on the Art Ross Trophy and also took home the coveted Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP.
The flamboyant right winger had a thunderous shot, earning him his nickname well before he played in the NHL. His blasts awed fans while bruising goaltenders that were unlucky enough to stop one. He soon added a powerful wrist shot and accurate backhand to his arsenal.
Related: The Best Nicknames in Hockey
Despite being known for his ‘booming’ shot, Geoffrion was also a nifty playmaker. He often picked up as many assists as goals. He thrived under pressure, lived for the spotlight and played with his heart on his sleeve. He only played in one gear: the highest one possible. That held true off the ice, too, where he would often break into song at the drop of a hat. He was frequently invited to perform on nightclub stages, on radio and television, and he rarely passed up the opportunity.
Six-time Member of the Habs’ 50-Goal Club Member of the NHL’s 60-Goal Club
Scored 53 goals in 70 games during the 1974-75 season.
Scored 56 goals in 80 games during the 1975-76 season.
Scored 56 goals in 80 games during the 1976-77 season.
Scored 60 goals in 78 games during the 1977-78 season.
Scored 52 goals in 80 games during the 1978-79 season.
Scored 50 goals in 74 games during the 1979-80 season.
Guy LaFleur, also known as “The Flower” and “Le Demon Blond,”reached the 50-goal plateau an incredible six consecutive seasons with the Habs. He was also the first player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons. On average, about 30 percent of his goals came on the power play and 20 percent were game-winners. His shooting percentage ranged from 20.4 to 15.2 percent.
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During the six-season run, the right winger was named a first-team All-Star six times, won the scoring title three times, the Hart Trophy twice and the Conn Smythe Trophy once. More importantly, he helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup four times (1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979).
LaFleur was one of the greatest right wingers ever to play the game. His explosive rushes and long, flowing blond hair pulled fans out of their seats nightly while his booming shot terrorized goalies. “He was an artist on skates, creating scoring plays the way a painter puts a vivid scene on a canvas with a brush,” said sportswriter Bill Libby.
It’s well known that in his early childhood years, Lafleur was so in love with hockey that he’d sneak into the arena in his hometown of Thurso, Quebec, just to get extra ice time when no one else was around. He was also known to sleep in his hockey gear to minimize downtime at the arena.
The excitement never left Lafleur as he grew older. Teammate Steve Shutt offered up, “Any guy who would be in his hockey uniform, skates tied tight, sweater on and a stick beside him at 4 o’clock for an 8 o’clock game has to be a little strange. But on the ice, he played 100% on instinct and emotion.”
Member of the NHL’s 60-Goal Club
Scored 60 goals in 80 games during the 1976-77 season.
Steve Shutt was a decent skater with a terrific wrist shot and a deadly accurate slap shot. He also had a knack for finding the right place to be on the ice and always anticipated where the puck would be. Add in his cat-like reflexes that helped him tip in shots and convert rebounds and it’s easy to understand his success.
“He had a great shot. Unbelievable shot,” said New York Islanders goaltender Billy Smith. “He’d come across the blue line and he could tee it up better than anybody. And he was accurate, which is scary for someone with a slap shot.”
In Shutt’s breakout season, the winger played on a line with Jacques Lemaire and Guy Lafleur. The trio formed the top line in the NHL, dominating scoresheets while leading the team to a remarkable 60-8-12 record. His 60 goals set a team and league record for goals by a left winger until it was broken in 1992-93 by Luc Robitaille’s 63-goal performance.
Of the 60 goals he scored in 1976-77, only eight came with the man advantage while nine were game winners. Shutt posted a dazzling 20.48 shooting percentage that season. He was commonly razzed by his peers and the media for collecting rebounds and scoring “garbage goals.” He admitted, “I’m the only guy that could score goals and make it boring.”
The following season, Shutt fell just short of reaching the 50-goal plateau, lighting the lamp 49 times.
Member of the Habs’ 50-Goal Club
Scored 50 goals in 73 games during the 1979-80 season.
Pierre Larouche’s strengths were his speed and his stickhandling–he could weave his way through traffic and baffle goaltenders with his quick release.
The center reached the 50-goal mark twice. Early in his career, during the 1975-76 season, he netted 53 goals in 76 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins. At the time he was the youngest player to hit the 50-goal and 100-point plateau.
His breakout season in Montreal came in 1979 on a line with wingers Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt. He tied Lafleur for the team lead in goals. Of Larouche’s 50 goals that season, 12 came with the man advantage and seven were game-winners. He sniped his way to a ridiculously high 22.73 shooting percentage.
He still holds the Canadiens record for the most goals in a season by a center. Moreso, he’s one of only seven players in NHL history to reach the 50-mark with two teams: Gretzky with the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings, Jaromir Jagr with the Penguins and New York Rangers, Pat LaFontaine with Islanders and Buffalo Sabres, Mogilny with the Sabres and Vancouver Canucks, Teemu Selanne with the Winnipeg Jets and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Pavel Bure with the Canucks and Florida Panthers. He is also the only player to have scored more than 45 goals with three separate teams–he scored 48 with the Rangers during the 1983-84 season.
Two-time Member of the Habs’ 50-Goal Club
Scored 50 goals in 72 games during the 1987-88 season.
Scored 51 goals in 75 games during the 1989-90 season.
The first time Stephane Richer reached the 50-goal mark was in 1988 as a 21-year-old. He had 45 goals with only two games remaining–a home-and-home series with the Sabres–and was determined to become the youngest 50-goal scorer in Canadiens history.
Sure enough, he scored a hat trick in the first game in a 9-4 Habs win at home, then put two past Sabres netminder Tom Barrasso to make history. Aside from the feelings of joy and pride, he was rewarded with the tangible gift of a new Jaguar car. Apparently, a local car dealer came through with his promise of new wheels for the young sniper if he scored 50.
Richer, a right winger born in Ripon, Quebec, is a two-time 50-goal scorer. The first time he hit the mark, 16 of his goals were on the power play and 11 were game winners. The second time, only nine were power-play goals and eight were game winners.
He was a great skater who used his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame to muscle his way into the play. He had a lightning-quick release to go with his cannon-like shot–one of the hardest in the NHL. Though he only wound up his stick about waist high, somehow he maximized full power on his shots. In slapshot skill competitions, he routinely exceeded the 100 mph mark.
Jeff has been covering the NHL for over a decade for various sites. He’s been with The Hockey Writers as a lead Sabres writer three years, while also writing a satire column called “Off the Crossbar.”