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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

1909-10 Montreal Canadiens Didier Pitre Jersey

With the formation of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey Association on December 4, 1909, player-coach Jack Laviolette was put in charge of assembling a roster of French-Canadian players.

The first man he signed was former teammate Didier Pitre, with whom he had played on the American Soo Indians of the original International (Professional) Hockey League in Michigan from 1904 to 1907.

Renowned as a great skater and possessing the hardest shot in hockey, Pitre was an important acquisition for Laviolette and the upstart Les Canadiens as they sought to establish themselves as the team for the French speaking population of Montreal while in the same league with the Montreal Shamrocks and the Montreal Wanderers.

Laviolette paired himself and Pitre with Newsy Lalonde to form a line known as "The Flying Frenchmen" for 7 of the next 9 seasons. While the Canadiens finished last in their first season with a 2-10 record, Pitre managed to average just under a goal per game, with 11 in 12 contests. Pitre exceeded a goal per game average for the next three seasons with Montreal, who changed their name to the "Montreal Canadiens" for their third season, as he first put up 19 goals in 16 games to tie Lalonde for the team lead in scoring as the Canadiens finished second with an 8-8 record. Pitre then an impressive 27 goals in 18 contests, good for second place in the NHA, followed by 24 markers in the 17 games of the 1912-13 campaign to finish one behind Lalonde on the Canadiens and sixth overall.

Following the 1912-13 season, Pitre moved to the west for the 1913-14 season with the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey League, where he scored 14 goals and 2 assists in 16 games in his only season with the Millionaires to tie for seventh in scoring.

Pitre returned to the Canadiens for the 1914-15 season in time to post the finest offensive season of his career when he scored 30 goals, plus 4 assists, in 20 games after moving from defense up to forward.

After scoring 24 goals in 24 games during the 1915-16 NHA season, fourth in the NHA, Pitre led the league champion Canadiens by contributing 4 more goals in 5 playoff games against the Portland Rosebuds as Montreal won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Pitre's share for winning the only Stanley Cup of his career amounted to $238.

Montreal again finished atop the NHA the following season to return to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second consecutive year after Pitre recorded his fifth consecutive 20 goal season in the NHA. His 21 goals in 20 games placed him sixth in the final season of the NHA.

For the 1917-18 season, the Canadiens became charter members of the brand new National Hockey League and Pitre would continue to play with Montreal for six more seasons, averaging 15 goals a season for the first four years while in the NHL.

The Canadiens would return to the Stanley Cup Finals one more time during Pitre's career in 1919, but the series was cancelled after five games had been played with Pitre leading all playoff scorers at the time due to the flu epidemic which would claim the life of Pitre's teammate Joe Hall.

For the final two seasons of Pitre's career, he would move back to play defense in the spot vacated by the passing of Hall.

Pitre would eventually play 20 seasons of hockey, 13 of those with the Canadiens with whom he would score 220 goals and 59 assists for 279 points in 255 games and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

Today's featured jersey is a 1909-10 Montreal Canadiens Didier Pitre jersey. This blue jersey with a white horizontal chest stripe and large "C" on the chest was worn by Les Canadiens during their first ever season while members of the NHA.

This jersey style lasted only a single season, as was the norm for the Canadiens during their formative years. In their first 16 seasons, Montreal would use 11 different jersey styles, including five in their first four seasons, in stark contrast to their tradition of keeping their same iconic style with only minor detail alterations since 1925.

Montreal Canadiens Didier Pitre 1909-10 jersey

Bonus Jersey: The Canadiens revived their original 1909-10 jerseys as part of their centennial celebrations during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. This was one of six different styles worn as part of the centennial jersey program.

This particular style was worn on November 21, 2009 in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Mike Cammalleri scored both Canadiens goals during the game.

This jersey was scheduled to be worn one additional time on February 13, 2010, but the centennial jersey program was discontinued by the Canadiens new ownership with two games left on the schedule, with the other being on January 23, 2010 when their red and green 1910-11 jerseys were to have been worn, making these two styles the only ones to have been worn just once.

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Our video selection today takes a look back at the formation of Les Canadiens in 1909.


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