Friday, December 4, 2009
It was on this date in 1909 that John Ambrose O'Brien founded "le Club de Hockey Canadien", the oldest team in the NHL, who today are celebrating their 100th Anniversary.
1909-10 Montreal Canadiens future Hall of Famers Cattarinich, Laviolette &
Pitre shown wearing the Canadiens original sweaters
O'Brien, in Montreal for business was asked by the then owners of the Renfrew Creamery Kings to apply to join the Canadian Hockey Association (CHA). After being turned down, he met Jimmy Gardner, the manager of the Montreal Wanderers hockey club. The pair hatched the idea of starting their own league, the National Hockey Association (NHA), using O'Brien's teams in Cobalt and Haileybury, the Wanderers and founding a new club to appeal to he French-speaking fans in Montreal as a rival to the Wanderers.
O'Brien only owned the team for one season because he was sued by George W. Kendall, the owner of the Club athéltique Canadien, who claimed he had the legal rights to the Canadiens name. As part of the settlement, Kendall bought the team from O'Brien for $7,500.
They remain the longest continuously operating professional ice hockey team and the only NHL club older than the league itself. During their history, they have held the Stanley Cup 24 times, including their first in 1916, a year before the founding of the NHL.
While the rivalry with the Wanderers fell by the wayside in 1918 when their arena burned down and the club folded, the Canadiens new cross-town rivals arrived in 1924 with the founding of the Montreal Maroons. Two seasons later the Canadiens would move into their home of 70 years, the Montreal Forum, which they would share with the Maroons until their demise in 1938.
By 1949 the Canadiens had won but six Stanley Cups in their first forty years, hardly the dominant franchise the hockey world would soon come to know, as the Canadiens would make it to the finals in 1951, the first of ten consecutive appearances in the final series.
The arrival of Boom Boom Geoffrion in 1951 to compliment Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Doug Harvey and Dickie Moore set the ball in motion and soon the Canadiens embarrassment of riches would grow into a full-fledged dynasty with the additions of Jean Beliveau and Jacques Plante in 1953, Henri Richard in 1954, Claude Pronovost in 1955. Ten seasons later, the Canadiens would double the number of Stanley Cups won, with six in ten years.
The success would continue through out the 1960's despite the retirement of Rocket Richard after the 1960 championship. The club would capture an astounding ten titles in fifteen seasons from 1965 to 1979, including four straight to finish the run with star players such as Jacques Laperriere, J. C. Tremblay, Guy Lafleur, Yvan Cournoyer, Ken Dryden, Peter Mahovolich, Steve Shutt, Bob Gainey, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe, Jacques Lemaire and Larry Robinson.
The club continued it's streak of at least one championship in every decade from the 1910's by winning the title in 1986 behind the goaltending of rookie Patrick Roy and again in 1993.
The team became the first in NHL history to reach 3,000 victories on December 29, 2008 with a win over the Florida Panthers, a team no one could have imagined in 1909.
To celebrate the club's centennial several uniform numbers have been retired, including those of Moore & Cournoyer (both #12), Geoffrion (5), Savard (18), Dryden (29), Robinson (19), Gainey (23) and Roy (33), leaving them with 15 retired numbers, 11 of them under the #20, forcing current Montreal players to wear some of the highest numbers in the league, a visual oddity for one of the most traditional franchises in sports.
In addition to other events, such as the issuing of commemorative coins and stamps, the construction of a "Centennial Plaza" outside the Bell Centre and a concert, the Canadiens hosted the 2009 NHL All-Star game as well as the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Our favorite tribute to the historic team's past has been the wearing of the Centennial Jerseys, six in all.
The first occasion was on October 20, 2008 when they paid tribute to their 1971 championship season, but they frankly took the easy way out, wearing their current road white jerseys, which are no different than their home white jerseys from 1971. They also had the "100 Seasons" patch worn on the shoulder of the standard home and away jerseys, rather than the "Centennial" patch worn on all the other Centennial jerseys in the program.
Things picked up on November 15, 2008 when they wore their beautiful 1945-46 jerseys, which had been used by the club as their third jerseys as recently as 2006-07. This was the debut on ice of the "Centennial" patch worn on the shoulders of the special throwback jerseys.
A year ago today, the Canadiens opened their Centennial Plaza and wore their 1915-16 jerseys, as worn when they first captured the Stanley Cup. These jerseys featured a darker shade of red and the "CA" logo on both the chest and sleeve with the familiar blue stripe across the chest.
They really got people's attention on February 1, 2009 with the debut of their 1912-13 "Barberpole" jerseys. "Prison Uniforms" was the most common reaction to the multi-striped jerseys, which were paired with equally busy socks. The jerseys were ruled "a distraction" by then coach Bob Gainey and he passed on their second scheduled wearing on March 31, opting for the more traditional looking 1915-16 Centennial jerseys.
February 21, 2009 was designated as another 1970-71 jersey night for the current road jerseys to be worn at home, and the remainder of the 2008-09 season saw the 1945-46 jerseys again on March 14 and the 1915-16 jerseys worn on their scheduled March 21 and again on March 31 in place of the controversial 1912-13 "Barberpole" jerseys.
The 2009-10 Centennial Jerseys kicked off appropriately on Halloween night with the unexpected return of the 1912-13 Barberpole jerseys against Toronto Maple Leafs, making every player on both teams decked out with a maple leaf on their chest.
Their gorgeous 1910-11 red jerseys with the green maple leaf crest debuted on November 10, 2009 against Calgary and may very well be the nicest of the Centennial jerseys. In case you missed them the first time out, they are to be worn once more on January 23, 2010 against the New York Rangers.
Most recently, their 1909-10 blue jerseys from the first season in franchise history were worn on November 21 against Detroit. We must take a moment to wonder why they didn't debut the 1909 jerseys tonight, on the date of the actual 100th anniversary of the franchise tonight against the Boston Bruins and also wonder why they didn't schedule the even more appropriate Maple Leafs as their opponent. The blue 1909-10 jerseys will be worn one more time on February 13, 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
It's the jersey from the Canadiens first season that is today's featured jersey, the 2009-10 Montreal Canadiens 1909-10 Centennial jerseys, as worn on November 21, 2009 against the Detroit Red Wings in a 3-2 shootout loss.
Brad Stuart opened the scoring at 12:41 of the first for Detroit in that game, followed quickly by Pavel Datsyuk at 14:42. The second period was scoreless before Mike Cammalleri quickly got one back for Montreal at just 9 seconds of the third period and Cammalleri got his second of the game at 8:45 to tie the game at 2-2. After a scoreless overtime, Cammalleri was stopped in the shootout while Datsyuk scored for Detroit against Carey Price for Montreal. Tomas Plekanec had his attempt saved by Jimmy Howard for Detroit and Henrik Zetterberg then earned Detroit the extra point by scoring for the Red Wings.
Here once more, with a review of the game, from HabsOrDie.com, it's your favorite and ours, Marie-Pier, giving her take on the night events. We assume.
Here is the shootout from the November 21st game when the Canadiens debuted their 1909-10 Centennial jerseys.
Finally, here is 100 years of hockey supremacy condensed into five and a half minutes. If this doesn't get your juices flowing and make you want to put on your skates on and pretend you're Richard, Beliveau or Lafleur, you have no pulse.