Tuesday, November 2, 2010
On this date in 1937, the Montreal Canadiens retired the first sweater in club history, the #7 of the late Howie Morenz, who had died at age 34 following a heart attack while hospitalized for a broken leg suffered in a game five weeks earlier. Morenz had played for Montreal for 12 seasons, winning three Stanley Cups, two Art Ross Trophies and three Hart Trophies.
Howie Morenz's #7 jersey hangs in his locker in the Canadiens dressing room following his death in 1937
The Canadiens would not retire another number for 23 years when the iconic #9 of Maurice Richard was raised to the rafters of the Montreal Forum following Richard's great career, which included him becoming the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games, as well as winning eight Stanley Cups and one Hart Trophy.
Richard's game worn #9 jersey
Eleven years on, the Canadiens would honor the great Jean Beliveau by ensuring no one else would wear his #4. Beliveau would play 20 seasons with Montreal, score over 500 goals, retire as the club's all-time leading scorer and the NHL's leading playoff scorer, play in 14 All-Star Games, win an Art Ross Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a pair of Hart Trophies on his way to winning ten Stanley Cups and serve as team captain longer than any other player.
Beliveau wearing his #4 captain's jersey
Henri Richard's #16 was next to be set aside on December 10, 1975 after his career which included his record 11 Stanley Cups, which still stands today, and more than 1,000 career points. He also holds the record for Most Games Played in club history and was also a team captain for the Canadiens.
Henri Richard poses with his home and away #16 sweaters
Both Guy Lafleur and defenseman Doug Harvey had their numbers retired in 1985. Lafleur's #10 received the honor on February 16, 1985 after his career, which included five Stanley Cups, 1,246 points which makes him the all-time leader in Canadiens history, over 500 goals, the club records for most goals in a season with 60 and most points in a season with 136. He was also the first player to have 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons and the fastest player to reach 1,000 career points. He won three Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, three Pearson Awards and a Conn Smythe trophy while a member of the Canadiens.
Lafleur pictured in front of his #10
#2 Doug Harvey was honored with his sweater retirement early the following season on October 26, 1985. The seven-time winner of the Norris Trophy played 14 seasons with Montreal, winning six Stanley Cups in the process.
It would be another ten years before Jacques Plante's #1 was raised to the rafters. Plante played for Montreal for ten seasons, winning six Stanley Cups, including five in a row. Plante was a winner of the Hart Trophy once and six Vezina Trophies while a member of the Canadiens. He is also credited for wearing the first modern goalie mask.
Plante's banner hangs in the rafters with the other retired banners
Following Plante's jersey retirement, it would be an additional ten years before the Canadiens would honor another player in the same manner.
As part of their Centennial celebrations, the Canadiens announced a series of sweater retirements to take place over the course of the next five seasons. Having retired just one number in 20 years, the Canadiens began to make up for lost time by retiring the #12 for two men, Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer on November 12, 2005. Moore was a two-time Art Ross Trophy winner who once held the single season scoring record with 96 points. In 12 years with the Canadiens, Moore won six Stanley Cups.
Cournoyer skated for the Canadiens for 16 years, including being named team captain. He won a Conn Smythe Trophy and won ten Stanley Cups while with the Canadiens. At the time of his retirement in 1978, he was fourth on the all-time Montreal scoring list.
Cournoyer holds up a signed #12 Canadiens jersey
Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion's #5 came next on March 11, 2006. Geoffrion's colorful nickname is a result of his invention of the slapshot. He played 14 seasons in Montreal, won the Calder Trophy, two Art Ross Trophies, the Hart Trophy and six Stanley Cups. Sadly, he passed away on the day his number was retired.
The ceremony to retire Geoffrion's #5 just hours after his passing
The 2006-07 season saw the retirements of #18 for Serge Savard and #29 for goaltender Ken Dryden. Savard became the first defenseman to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1969. He also was named the winner of the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1979 and won eight Stanley Cups in 15 seasons with Montreal.
Serge Savard's #18 rests in the rafters in Montreal
Dryden's career was shorter at eight seasons, but during those years he won the Calder Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy (before winning the Calder!), five Vezina Trophies and six Stanley Cups.
Ken Dryden and his family watch is banner being raised in 2007
Larry Robinson and Bob Gainey were honored in 2007-08. Robinson's #19 rose to the rafters in honor of his 17 seasons with Montreal which included two Norris Trophies, a Conn Smythe and six Stanley Cups. In 1976-77 he finished the year with a +120 rating, the second highest in history, and one of only two seasons ever over +100.
Robinson's #19 is retired
Bob Gainey's #23 was retired following his 16 seasons with Montreal which saw him capture four Selke Trophies. While his list of awards is not as lengthy and his point totals not as high as his fellow honored Canadiens, his role as a defensive forward was a key component to the five Stanley Cups Montreal won during Gainey's time with the Canadiens.
Gainey's #23 is raised to the rafters
Patrick Roy was welcomed back into the Canadiens family on November 22, 2008. Roy is the youngest winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy at age 20. In 12 seasons in Montreal, Roy won three Vezina Trophies, four Jennings Trophies, two Conn Smythe Trophies and two Stanley Cups.
Patrick Roy poses with his banner
Finally on the date of the Canadiens centennial, December 4, 2009, the jerseys of both #3 Emile Bouchard and #16 Elmer Lach were surprisingly retired as part of the festivities that evening. Lach played 14 seasons for the Canadiens as part of the famed "Punch Line" with Maurice Richard and Toe Blake. He won two Art Ross Trophies and the Hart Trophy as well as three Stanley Cups. At the time of his retirement in 1954, he was the league's all-time leading scorer.
Bouchard, a defenseman, was captain of the Canadiens for eight seasons during his 15 years with Montreal, which included four Stanley Cup titles. He was the first Quebec-born player to wear the "C" for Montreal. The QMJHL's Defenseman of the Year trophy is named in his honor. At the time of Bouchard's sweater retirement, Canadiens player Ryan O'Byrne was wearing #3, but surrendered it as part of the ceremony, permanently changing to #20.
Lach and Bouchard have their numbers retired in 2009
With the recent run of sweater retirements, the Canadiens have now taken 15 numbers out of circulation in honor of 17 players. Only numbers 6 and 8 remain in the single digits, resulting in an unprecedented number of Canadiens wearing non-traditional jersey numbers higher than #30.
In keeping with the current trend of wearing a patch on the occasion of a jersey retirement, the Canadiens have worn special patches on the players jerseys during the game following their recent jersey retirements.
Alexi Kovalev wearing a patch on the occasion of the retirement of Bob Gainey's #23
Today's featured jersey is a 1934-35 Montreal Canadiens Howie Morenz jersey. This jersey is on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. His was the first of 15 numbers retired by the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens first wore their "CH" logo back in 1916 and it appeared on the sleeves for the first time in 1924 when the club wore a globe on the front of their jerseys to symbolize their status as world champions. The following season the logo returned to the chest, but the smaller version of the logo remained on the left sleeve through 1935.
In a wonderful ceremony on the occasion of the clubs 100th Anniversary, many of the men who have had their jerseys retired by the Canadiens took part in a special pre-game warmup and then participated in the remainder of the celebrations that evening, which included the unexpected retirement of Bouchard's #3 and Lach's #16.