Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Top 100 Habs By Decade:

4. 1939-1949

In recognition of the Canadiens Centennial next Friday, we at Lions in Winter have been doing what we like best – making lists. As a precursor to publishing the definitive LIW top 100, we will be counting down the decades from least successful to most successful and naming our LIW top 10 players for the ten-year span. You should expect a few each day for the next few days.

Though this celebration has inevitably lost some steam due to relentless marketing and pre-game ceremonies for all of living memory, it would be a shame to let it pass unnoticed just because Mr. Gillett wanted to cash in before he cashed out.

1939-1949


The 1940s came in with a whimper. The team could only have been lower if they had folded in the late 1930s like the Maroons and many others did. But ownership were restless and made some key moves in this decade to turn things completely around.

The first move was to poach Dick Irvin from the more successful Toronto Maple Leafs (he who had been to 7 Stanley Cup finals in 9 years and won once with the Leafs) – he was added in 1940-41. The second move was to be quick on the uptake when Frank Selke got restless in 1946. The moves served two purposes – to bring the winning tradition and know-how to Montreal and to cut their main rivals off at the knees.

In terms of Stanley Cups, this decade looks like all before it, but it was the laying of groundwork and grooming of star players that gave the 1940s the edge on the 1930s and 1980s in the decade rankings.

The ten players form the 1940s represent the decade well. They give a glimpse in the birth of a winning attitude and a winning tradition.

[Note: Each player only appears in one decade's top 10 – so don't fret that Georges Mantha isn't recognised here]



10. Joe Benoit (Not ranked in Top 100, Profile)






























































Years(s)GPGAPtsPIMAwards*
Habs career (Season)1940-47185

75

69

144

94








Decade best (Season)1942-4349

30

27

57

23








Habs career (Playoffs)1941-4311

6

3

9

11








Decade best (Playoffs)1940-413

4

04

2










The 30-goal-a-season precursor to Richard on the Punch line. His going off to war left the vacancy on that line that needed to be filled.


9. Ray Getliffe (Top 100 all-time, Profile)






























































Years(s)GPGAPtsPIMAwards*
Habs career (Season)1939-45265

9997

196

193






Decade best (Season)1943-4444

2825

53



44








Habs career (Playoffs)1941-45266

7

1324

SC
Decade best (Playoffs)1943-449

5

4

9

16

SC


A multi-purpose player who could do it all. Even coined the most famous nickname in Canadiens history.


8. Ken Mosdell (Top 100 all-time, Profile)






























































Years(s)GPGAPtsPIMAwards*
Habs career (Season)1944-59627

132

155287

449

AS
Decade best (Season)1944-4531

126

1816








Habs career (Playoffs)1946-5980

1613

29

48

4 SC
Decade best (Playoffs)1945-469

4

1

5

6

SC


A star of the early 1950s who made a great impact in the 1940s in both the 1946 finals and as Dick Irvin's handpicked roommate for Maurice Richard.


7. Billy Reay (Top 100 all-time, Profile)






























































Years(s)GPGAPtsPIMAwards*
Habs career (Season)1945-53475

103

162265

202

AS
Decade best (Season)1948-4960



22

23

45

33








Habs career (Playoffs)1946-5363

1316

29

43

2 SC
Decade best (Playoffs)1946-4711

6

1

7

14










Second-line offense and defensive centre. Was a key cog in the near Cup of 1947.


6. Ken Reardon (Top 100 all-time, Profile)






























































Years(s)GPGAPtsPIMAwards*
Habs career (Season)1940-5034126

96

122

604

AS, HOF
Decade best (Season)1947-4858

7

1522129

AS
Habs career (Playoffs)1941-5031

2

5

7

62

SC
Decade best (Playoffs)1945-469

11

2

4

SC


Rugged defender who was feared across the league. One of the first NHL stars to enlist in the armed forces. He served overseas during his 3-year service (1942-45) in the RCAF.


5. Herbert "Buddy" O'Connor (Top 100 all-time, Profile)






























































Years(s)GPGAPtsPIMAwards*
Habs career (Season)1941-4727178

155233

22

HOF
Decade best (Season)1943-4444

1242

54

6








Habs career (Playoffs)1942-4735

1015

25

2

2 SC
Decade best (Playoffs)1942-435

4

5

9

0








Prolific second-liner and possibly involved in Selke's worst trade (he scored 60 points and won the Hart trophy the year after being sent to the Rangers).


4. Emile "Butch" Bouchard (Top 100 all-time, Profile)






























































Years(s)GPGAPtsPIMAwards*
Habs career (Season)1941-56785

49

144193

863

AS, HOF
Decade best (Season)1944-45501123

34

34








Habs career (Playoffs)1942-56113

1121



32

121

4 SC
Decade best (Playoffs)1944-456



3

4

7

4












One of the longest serving Canadiens and captains in team history. Played that brand of defence you need to win Cups.


3. Bill Durnan (Top 100 all-time, Profile)




































































Years(s)GPWLTGAASOAwards*
Habs career (Season)1943-50383208

11262

2.3634

V, AS, HOF
Decade best (Season)1943-445038



5

7



2.182



V, AS
Habs career (Playoffs)1944-5045

27

180

2.072

2 SC
Decade best (Playoffs)1943-449

8

1

0

1.53

1SC


6 Vezina trophies in his 7-year career – need I say more? OK, does Habs captain add to the lustre?


2. Elmer Lach (Top 100 all-time, Profile)






























































Years(s)GPGAPtsPIMAwards*
Habs career (Season)1940-54664

215

408

623

478H, AR, AS, HOF
Decade best (Season)1944-4550

26

54

80

37

H, AS
Habs career (Playoffs)1941-5476

1945

64

36

3 SC
Decade best (Playoffs)1945-4695

12

174

SC


Offensive machine and passing key to the famous Punch line. He won the inaugural Art Ross trophy in 1946 after cruising to his second league scoring title. He briefly held the all-time scoring lead and retired the all-time assists leader.


1. Hector "Toe" Blake (Top 100 all-time, Profile)






























































Years(s)GPGAPtsPIMAwards*
Habs career (Season)1935-48569235

292

527272

H, LB, AS, HOF
Decade best (Season)1944-455029

38

67

25

AS
Habs career (Playoffs)1937-4757

25

37

62

23

2 SC
Decade best (Playoffs)1943-449

7

11

182

SC


The perennial scoring star was heir to Howie Morenz in the Canadiens world. He captained two teams to Stanley Cup wins and scored both Cup winning goals.


* Awards: H = Hart trophy; AR = Art Ross trophy; LB = Lady Byng trophy; V = Vezina trophy; AS= All-star; HOF = Hall of Fame; SC = Stanley Cup.

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