Houle did not have to travel far after being selected first overall in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft, as he was selected by the Montreal Canadiens, who assigned him to the Montreal Voyageurs of the AHL for the start of the 1969-70 season. He would score 25 points in 27 games as well as making his NHL debut for the Canadiens, scoring a single assist in nine games for The Habs.
He would crack the Canadiens lineup for the 1970-71 season and never play another game in the minors again. He saw action in 66 games, scoring 10 goals and 19 points during the regular season and another 7 points in 20 playoffs games as the Canadiens would capture the first Stanley Cup of Houle's career.
His point total rose to 28 in 77 games in 1971-72 and rose another 20 to 48 in the 1972-73 season. Montreal would win another Stanley Cup that year as Houle contributed 9 points in 17 games.
Despite the two championships in three seasons, Houle was under tremendous scrutiny in Montreal as the fans wanted more from the first overall pick. So, despite his progress and the team's success, Houle chose to join the Quebec Nordiques of the rival WHA for the 1973-74 season. The move proved to be a good one for Houle, as he had his first 20 goal season as a professional, scoring 27 goals and 62 points.
Prior to the start of the next season, Houle was a member of Team Canada that took on the Soviet Union in the second Summit Series. He played in 7 of the games, scoring a goal and two points.
Houle scored 92 points in 1974-75, a full 30 point increase and good for second on the Nordiques. He added another 10 goals and 16 points in the postseason as the Nordiques made it to the AVCO Cup Finals.
He would have his finest season as a professional in 1975-76 as he broke loose for 51 goals and 103 points on the high powered Nordiques, as evidenced by the fact he scored 11 points more than the season before, but only ranked fourth in team scoring!
With increased confidence and maturity after his successful stint in Quebec, Houle returned to the Canadiens for the 1977-78 season, with predictable results. No longer in the wild, wild west of the WHA and a smaller cog in the talent-laden Canadiens lineup, Houle's point totals the next three years hovered between 51 and 58, but he also earned three consecutive Stanley Cups for his troubles. He would set an NHL career highs with 30 goals and 58 points in 1977-78.
Limited to just 60 games in 1979-80, his point total slipped to 45, but he rebounded with 58 in 1980-81 to equal his NHL best. His career was now on the decline, and after scoring 43 points in just 51 games in 1981-82, Houle would play a final 16 games in 1982-83 with just 8 points to end his playing days.
His final combined career totals were 179 goals and 286 assists for 665 points, with 408 of those coming in the NHL, where he was a part of five Stanley Cup championships.
Today's featured jersey is a 1975-76 Quebec Nordiques Rejean Houle jersey as worn during Houle's magical 50 goal season in the WHA.
After three seasons of play, the Nordiques adopted a new, more minimalist style of jersey based on the flag of the province of Quebec for the 1975-76 season. This style would remain unchanged for 20 years, which included joining the NHL in 1979, until the franchise was sold and relocated out of Quebec.
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens Rejean Houle jersey as worn during Houle's return to the NHL following his time in the rival WHA.
The genesis of this iconic jersey first appeared back in 1912 when the Canadiens needed an alternate to their barberpole style which was too similar to the Ottawa Senators sweaters. There was some initial evolution as white trim was added to the blue chest stripe in 1913 and the logo went through a series of changes until the "CH" first appeared in 1916, which then went through a series of colorization versions until the final look arrived in 1925.
Today's video section begins with Houle taking on the Ice Bucket Challenge - but with a unique hockey twist.
Next is an extended interview with Houle in French on the occasion of the Canadiens centennial.