Lighting the Lamp With Rick Ackerman
The most famous and storied team in NHL history is here tonight to play some hockey. The Montreal Canadiens have won 23 Stanley Cup championships, the most in the history of the NHL. The Habs are ten Cups ahead of the second place Toronto Maple Leafs (including two as the Arenas and St. Patricks). The only post-1967 expansion team with five or more Cups is the Edmonton Oilers, followed by the New York Islanders with four.
Montreal also has the most NHL retired jerseys (14) for 15 players. On October 15, the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise opened its Centennial Anniversary season with a ceremony to retire 11 jersey numbers, 10 of which were previously “honored” numbers. Those 11 retired were added to two already in the rafters of Maple Leafs Garden and the Air Canada Centre -- Ace Bailey’s number 6 and Bill Barilko’s number 5, making a total of 13 -- one behind the Habs. Nineteen players, four more than Montreal’s 15, are now honored, six sharing numbers.
Of course, the Blues now have seven retired jerseys, with Bobby Plager’s jersey-raising ceremony scheduled for February 2, 2017. Three of the retired Canadiens honorees also played for St. Louis, including Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey and Dickie Moore. The only former Blues player with a number retired in Toronto is Doug Gilmour, selected by St. Louis in the seventh round (134th overall) of the 1982 entry draft.
Montreal and St. Louis have met three times in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In all three series, 1968, 1969 and 1977, the Canadiens swept the Blues, winning all twelve games.
Even without any trades between them since 2010, the two teams have made 40 deals over 44 years, an average of almost one trade each year. Before the Blues even played a game, three deals involved the Note obtaining center Ron Attwell, winger Claude Cardin and defenseman Pat Quinn from the Habs for cash. Habs’ winger Bill McCreary was also traded to the Blues in return for Quinn, Cardin and forward Phil Obendorf in June 1967. Only McCreary became a regular with St. Louis, playing four seasons as a checking winger on a line with Terry Crisp and Jimmy Roberts. Several lesser trades in 1968 were made with the Blues purchasing four minor-leaguers from the Canadiens.
A major trade occurred on June 27, 1969, when St. Louis acquired goaltender Ernie Wakely from Montreal for forwards Norm Beaudin and Bobby Schmautz. Wakely replaced the legendary Glenn Hall as the number-one goalie in 1969 and recorded a league leading goals against average of 2.11, leading the Blues to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins. Wakely played two more seasons in St. Louis before signing with the Winnipeg Jets of the WHA in 1972.
In 1970 and 1971 the Note purchased six more players from the Canadiens, including center Christian Bordeleau and goaltender Michel Plasse. While a member of the Blues’ farm team in Kansas City, Plasse earned the distinction of being the first professional net minder to score a goal when he put one into the empty net of the Oklahoma City Blazers in February 1971. St. Louis also acquired center Fran Huck from the Habs for a second-round draft choice. The Blues added winger Phil Roberto from the Canadiens for Jimmy Roberts, who was the Note’s first selection in the 1967 Expansion Draft. The popular Roberts would be traded back to St. Louis in 1977 for a third-round draft choice, which turned out to be Guy Carbonneau, who would also be reacquired by the Note in 1994.
A significant trade occurred in May 1972 when the Blues obtained a first-round draft choice (No. 5, John Davidson) and a third-round pick (No. 48, Bob Gassoff) for a first-rounder (No. 8, Bob Gainey), a fourth-round pick (No. 56) and a 1973 first-round choice (No. 9, Robin Sadler). Over the next ten years, seven deals were consummated with Rick Wilson (now an assistant coach for the Blues), Chuck Lefley, Claude Larose and Guy Lapointe going south to St. Louis and a first-round draft choice in 1974 (Doug Risebrough), Glen Sather, Don Awrey and Sergio Momesso going north to Montreal.
In December 1983 the two teams completed a major trade, with Perry Turnbull going to the Canadiens for Monday Night Miracle stars Doug Wickenheiser and Greg Paslawski, as well as defenseman Gilbert Delorme. Half a year later, the Blues obtained goaltender Rick Wamsley and three draft choices (one of whom was Tony Hrkac) for first-round (Shayne Corson) and second-round (Stephane Richer) picks. Then one year later, Mark Hunter and four draft choices (one of whom was Nelson Emerson) became Blues, while five picks went to Montreal. None of those five worked out for the Canadiens.
Over the next ten years, well-known players such as Ron Flockhart, Rick Nattress, Vince Riendeau, Mike Lalor and Momesso came to St. Louis, while a second-round draft choice (John Leclair), Jocelyn Lemieux and Todd Ewen became Canadiens. Another major trade in October 1996 saw centers Craig Conroy and Pierre Turgeon don the Bluenote while Shane Corson and Murray Baron became Habs.
The last trade to date between the Blues and Habs was in June 2010 when goaltender Jaro Halak was acquired for Lars Eller and minor league winger Ian Schultz. Halak was dealt to Buffalo in February 2014 in the ill-fated deal for Ryan Miller and was later traded by the Sabres to Washington. Halak ultimately ended up in Brooklyn, where his future is uncertain due to his slow start this season and the Islanders juggling three goaltenders.
Okay, Blues, let’s go out and kick the Hab-it tonight!