Does Price make Montreal the team of destiny? A look at history

I normally write about my Leafs, but an interesting observation inspired me to write this story.

Back in September, Habsrock99 wrote an article comparing this year’s Canadiens to the 1986 team. At the time, I thought “you’re joking, right?”. But in hindsight, the article was actually ahead of its time, written when most analysts picked the Habs to miss the playoffs.

Meanwhile, I did some research of past hockey eras and found out a very interesting fact about Montreal rookie goalies going back 65 years.

If history is any indication, this might have implications for Montreal’s performance in the upcoming playoffs.Over the years, the Canadiens have had a number of rookie goalies, most of which fall into 1 of 2 categories:

1. Rookie goalies who did not play for Montreal for very long

Gerry McNeil
Roggie Vachon
Tony Esposito
Phil Myre
Rick Wamsley
Jocelyn Thibault


2. Rookie goalies who were not top calibre or No. 1 guys (ie, not really all-star material)

Roy Worters
Wilf Cude
Bert Gardiner
Claude Bourque
Charlie Hodge
Michel Plasse
Michel Larocque
Richard Sevigny
Steve Penney
Andre Racicot
Frederic Chabot
Mathieu Garon

Of course, Montreal has also had a slew of goaltenders who were simply not rookies. Examples include:

Gump Worsley
Denis DeJordy
Wayne Thomas
Denis Herron
Doug Soetaert
Brian Hayward
Rollie Melanson
Ron Tugnutt
Pat Jablonski
Jeff Hackett
Stephane Fiset
David Aebischer
Cristobal Huet

However, since World War II, Montreal has had FOUR prominent rookie goalies who went on to have great careers for the Canadiens. For this reason, these 4 goalies are unique.

And now, this year, Montreal has a 5th such goalie, Carey Price, who many believe will follow in the foot-steps of the other 4 legends.

So who are the 4 major goalies that went on to have stellar careers for the Canadiens? They are:

1. Bill Durnan

2. Jacques Plante

3. Ken Dryden

4. Patrick Roy

Want to know how Montreal fared in the playoffs with these goalies in their ROOKIE year? Check it out:

Bill Durnan (1943-44) — Canadiens won Stanley Cup

Jacques Plante (1952-53) — Canadiens won Stanley Cup

Ken Dryden (1970-71) — Canadiens won Stanley Cup

Patrick Roy (1985-86) — Canadiens won Stanley Cup

Carey Price (2007-08) — TO BE DETERMINED

In other words, in the past 65 years, every time the Canadiens had a prominent rookie goalie, they went on to win a Stanley Cup title! That is absolutely incredible. I can’t think of any other team who’s had that kind of success with Rookie goalies.

Going back further, since World War I, there is only one major Montreal goalie who failed to win the Cup in his rookie year, Georges Hainsworth (1926-27). Instead, he won in his 4th year.

The legendary George Vezina was Montreal’s rookie goalie in 1910 when the Habs didn’t win the Cup, but that was before the NHL was born.

The really astute reader will notice that I excluded Tony Esposito from the list of prominent goalies, even though the Habs won the Cup when he was a rookie (1968-69). I omitted him because he didn’t play in Montreal for long, as he was quickly traded to Chicago after his rookie season. if I included him, I would have to include various other goalies as well, including Roggie Vachon.

Some would argue that Jose Theodore bucked the trend, but consider that he didn’t earn the No. 1 goaltending job until his 4th season with the Habs, and the above list only includes prominent rookie goalies who also went on to have stellar careers. Theodore doesn’t really qualify as such.

So the question is, will Carey Price continue the tradition that started about 65 years ago? We shall see, but the historical data is remarkable.

102 Responses to Does Price make Montreal the team of destiny? A look at history

  1. CanadianbornPlaya says:

    It does not matter which round the Habs get the Pens this year, it will be a great series. I believe the Pens have a slight edge in grit which will be offset by Mtl's impressive speed (certainly one of the fastest teams in the league). Without a doubt, the Pens can put the puck in the net, i'm sure many people would argue this will be Mtl's downfall in a series between the two teams. I argue that Mtl's defence and netminding are stronger and more dependable than Pit's. This is a non-issue anyway as MTL has put up 11 more goals than Pit's this year. As far a special teams. PK and PP between the two are virtually the same with Mtl having a slight edge in both(Habs #1PP and #23 on PK and Pits #4PP and #24on PK). This playoff series will be a barnburner. Home ice will be more important to the Pens than the Habs. As a Habs fan I would love to see them go all the way this year but won't be one bit disappointed if they don't. They were projected to miss the playoffs this year anyway.This all being said, I will go on to the point which I wanted to make, it stems from one of BruFagness's ovrblown  comments about the Pens winning cups and blah blah blah.
    Pittsburg better win the cup this year because the controversy that will stem from paying too much for Hossa is going to hurt this team in the future. A future that includes an opponent in Mtl that is fast, deep, strong definsively and boasts the strongest netminding prospect since Bobby Lu (all contributing players having reasonably valued contracts, current higest paid player: Hamrlik 5.5 mil). The Pens must deal with signing more than half of the team in the next two years. How do you make a deal with Malkin that dosn't piss off the Kid? Geno can get equal money to Crosby anywhere in the league. Now add Hossa's money in there, at least 8mil per, and he is the weakest of the three. With more than 24 mil spent on three players how do you keep Gonchar, Sykora, Malone,Staal, Dupuis, Fleury or Conklin (can't afford anything better), plus five more defencemen and a few skaters? It must be magic?
    To drink from Lord Stanley's Mug you must have a well rounded team up front that can control the puck and score from each line, packaged with a commitment to defence and a solid net minder. Grit, toughness and loyalty are the remaining factors in this equation. With the exception of Tampa Bay, all recent cup winners fit this mold.
    I don't think that either team have all the pieces to confidently say they are a lock to make the finals. After the Hossa deal I believe the Canadians have a stronger chance of putting the pieces in place to make them a lock for the finals next year and years after. The Habs can play with any team in the league right now, and have wasted none of their prospects or overpaid for players on the current roster. Combine these facts with the beautiful mind of Bob Gainey and the future is bright.
    A Penscup in 2010 will interfere with the dynasty in Montreal that begins next year 2009.

  2. lafleur10 says:

    good post but one thing hamrlik is not the highest paid player ! markov is the highest payed player at 5.75 million a season as long as bob gainey and company stays this team will be winning the cup within 2 years!

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