The Franchise Four. The Mount Rushmore. Four players who tell the story of an organization. In this series, I’ll be taking a look at the history of all 30 NHL squads. For criteria, I’m choosing one forward, defenceman, goaltender and a wild card from any position.
An “Original Six” squad, there’s no shortage of sensational star power with the Montreal Canadiens. Since their founding in 1909, the Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cup titles.
Through the years the team has boasted the likes of, Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Ken Dryden, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Patrick Roy, Steve Shutt, Bernie Geoffrion, Jacques Lemaire, Bob Gainey, Serge Savard, Aurele Joliat, Guy Lapointe, George Hainsworth, Elmer Lach, Howie Morenz, Tom Johnson, Butch Bouchard, Jacques Laperriere and Bill Durnan.
So, which players make their “Franchise Four?”
4. The Goalie – Jacques Plante
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Plante backstopped the Canadiens to six Stanley Cup titles, including five straight, from 1955-1960. During the run of five consecutive championships, Plante led all postseason netminders in goals against average. With Montreal, Plante won a Hart Memorial Trophy and six Vezina trophies. In a Habs sweater, Plante bested all NHL keepers in wins, five times, goals against average, six times and shutouts, four times. In Canadiens goaltending history, Plante bests all goalies in games (556) and wins (314) and ranks second in goals against average (2.23) and shutouts (58). Plante was also a six-time All-Star for Montreal.
3. The Defenseman – Doug Harvey
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Harvey anchored the Canadiens blue line to six Stanley Cup titles, including five straight from 1955-1960. With Montreal, Harvey was an eleven-time All-Star and a six-time winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy. Harvey was a puck rushing pioneer, before the likes of Larry Robinson, Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey.
2. The Wild Card – Jean Beliveau
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Beliveau was a ten-time Stanley Cup champion. A 13-time All-Star, Beliveau won the Art Ross Trophy and was a two-time recipient of the Hart Memorial Trophy. Beliveau also led the league in goals twice. Playing 162 postseason contests, Beliveau netted 79 goals, dished out 97 assists and posted 176 points. In 1964-65, Beliveau earned the Conn Smythe Trophy. In Canadiens franchise history, Beliveau ranks second in goals (518), assists (712) and points (1,219). In addition to his offensive prowess, Beliveau as a true statesman for the sport.
1. The Forward – Maurice “Rocket” Richard
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Richard was an eight-time Stanley Cup champion. A 13-time All-Star, Richard won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 1946-47. Plus, Richard finished in the top three in Hart Trophy voting, six times. Richard led the NHL in goal scoring five times. In 1944-45, Richard became the first player to record 50 goals in a season, registering a league best 50 in 50 regular season games. Along with his 50-goal campaign, Richard posted four seasons of more than 40 goals and nine season with 30 or more. Playing 133 postseason contests, Richard tallied 82 markers, 44 helpers and 126 points. Richard led all playoff goal scorers five times and netted six overtime playoff winners in his career. In Montreal franchise history, Richard ranks first in goals (544), eighth in assists (421) and fourth in points (965).
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.