Thursday, January 27, 2011

Canadiens As All-Stars

Montreal Canadiens have figured prominently since the modern NHL All-Star Game began in 1947. In the early years, when the game was a contest between the league stars and the Stanley Cup Champions (wow, I wonder how they could create more interest in the modern All-Star game?), it was the Canadiens as a team 8 times from 1953 to 1967.

1968 was the last using this format, as expansion meant the league had twice as many players to choose from.

Since the 1969 game (the first after expansion), the game has been staged 36 times (this year being the 37th edition). And since that time, there have been 96 players associated with the Canadiens taking part in the game proper and 100 taking part in the weekend. PK Subban, with his replacement selection will be the 101st Montreal Canadien to take part in the modern All-Star Game -- a game taking place in the very symmetrical 101st Montreal Canadiens season.

The most times in the Habs sweater

96 times since 1969 players have represented the Montreal Canadiens.

The most players the Canadiens ever sent to a post-expansion All-Star game was 7 in 1978, when Ken Dryden was accompanied by Serge Savard and Larry Robinson, together with forwards Lafleur, Shutt, Cournoyer and Gainey. Nobody probably batted an eye at the time because the Habs were setting points records, piling up Cups and sending at least 6 to the All-Star game every year anyway.

The most times that any one player has represented the Habs since expansion is Larry Robinson. The standard he set of 9 games looks virtually untouchable, especially when one considers the next closest are no great slouches: Patrick Roy (6), Guy Lafleur (5), Yvan Cournoyer (5) and Ken Dryden (5). Carey price is on the right path, with two selections at this early stage. But 8 more to surpass Robinson is asking a Hall of Fame career from him.

The most appearances by a Canadiens alum

If we count games where a Habs alum skated, regardless of which team he was on, the numbers change. In all, Former, Present and Future Habs have played in 246 games (96 Present, 95 Former, 55 Future).

The players of note here are Patrick Roy and Chris Chelios. Both appeared in 11 All-Star contests over their careers. Robinson is next, with 10 (he had one honourary skate around with the Kings). They're followed by two players at 7 (Mark Recchi and Denis Savard) and a big group at 6.

The most consecutive appearances

There's a lot to be said for consistency. Consistent selection to the All-Star game is Hall of Fame stuff.

The most consecutive selections to a post-expansion game by a former, present or future Hab was 8. Chelios achieved this from 1990 to 1998. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, 7 of these appearances came after the famous trade to Chicago.

The most consecutive appearances by a player at the time he was with the Habs was 5 selections. This was done by Patrick Roy and Guy Lafleur.

All-Star traded away

It happens, to get you have to give. Chelios is mentioned above. But one hops that in trading an All-Star calibre player, one might at least just it at the tail end of a career.

The most All-Star seasons after leaving the Habs is a dubious record which is held by Chris Chelios at 9. You'd be wrong in thinking that Roy was next. His 5 were painful to watch, but Carol Vadnais and Tony Esposito both had 6 All-Star appearances after leaving Montreal.

At least Patrick also had some All-star years in Montreal. Neither Vadnais or Esposito did. Nor did John Leclair or Red Berenson, who each went to the All-Star game 5 times after leaving Montreal.

Bringing in an All-Star
Getting stars in the yes, it's happened to us all. We all dream up trades. Some people make a website empire out of it.

The perils of trading an All-Star can be balanced with getting an All-Star, if timed just right. Players who later became Habs dressed in 55 All-Star games since 1968.

The best acquisition here has to be Frank Mahovlich. He appeared in the first two post-expansion All-Star games as a Red Wing before being brought in to Montreal. Following that acquisition, he suited up for 4 more games, all consecutive from 1971-74. The next best is possibly Mark Recchi, who was three times an All-Star in Montreal before Rejean Houle discharged him for the sake of profit margins.

Other than Recchi, only Kirk Muller, Pierre Turgeon, Denis Savard and Alexei Kovalev ever replicated their All-Star form after being brought in to help the Habs.

Aging vets

At the last Stanley Cup parade, I had Gary Leeman sign his hockey card. As if to show his teammates that he once wore All-Star colours, he passed that card around the whole float to show his 51-goal season.

Unfortunately for Habs fans, Leeman wasn't the only star to ever be brought in after his All-Star days were behind him. 19 players in all fit this bill. There's still time for some (Hamrlik and Gomez among them).

Prospects lost

In the expansion era, losing prospects was an inevitability. Losing All-Stars too. But what's the excuse for GMs now? Ribeiro, Streit and Robidas are all recent alums that have gone onto recognition in other towns.

Years of shame

Someone was commenting the other day on Dadonov as the only Florida player at this weekend. They have no representation in the game itself. The Habs came mighty close this year too, with price the lone Canadien at the game proper.

Twice, though, 2001 and 2003, the Habs sent no one at all to the All-Star game. At least, Koivu was selected in 2003. 2001 was just a horrid year to be a fan of this team.

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