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. mojo19 says:

    Interesting! I knew about Dryden and Roy, but I didn't know about the other two. If they Canadians win the cup this year that would be very strange. Good article Leafy, as always.

    On the other hand, GO WASHINGTON, Eastern conference champs!!

  2. BruMagnus- says:

    Leafy McCack! 

    This article is Dry and CACA as usual!
    PENS!! YES!! PENS!!
    Pittsburgh, Ball point, It don't matter!  BruMagnus Loves Pens!
    and loves Crosby Naked!
  3. UsedandAbused says:

    Interesting Article. I really think Price is the real deal, yet who knows how good he will play when it really matters? If there was another real dominate team in the East I would pick them over Montreal because Price is a rookie, but at this point I think Montreal is going to get to the finals. I don't however see an Eastern Conference Team winning the Cup this year. To answer your question… I think he will continue the tradition of playing VERY well, but I don't think they will take the cup, though they could.

  4. sanj91 says:

    tired of the tlusty pictures??

  5. mojo19 says:

    You mis-spelled PENS, you forgot the "I"

  6. simplyhabby says:

    If anything, this team is more like 93 (without the proven all star goalie) rather then those teams who had the rookie phenoms in goal. 

    I don't think the habs have what it takes to win the cup (oh please prove me wrong) based on teh following:

    The team does resemble the 93 team (again, without the all star proven goalie) as we did not have a star as a skater, just a very balanced offense with a fantastic two way game. (the habs lack on the two way game this year as well…look how well we fair against the first line against the sens).

    in 86 with roy, we had Gainey, Robinson, Chelios, Lemieux, Smith and Skrudland..all at the top of their games.

    With Plante, Durnan and Dryden, they had numerous all-stars in front of them.  Not to detract how great these goalies were but they played on even greater teams.

    Of course, I hope this comment becomes locker room reading for motivation and they prove me wrong but this team while very skilled will likely wear down as the playoffs progress.  I don't beleive a few rounds would be out of the question and even a cup birth in regards to how wide open the east is but I just can't see them handle the vigors of 4 rounds.

  7. mojo19 says:

    Ya, MacKenzie and the guys on TSN were discussing yesterday, how many Western teams would be leading, or atleast right in the mix for first if they were in the East. Detroit, Dallas, San Jose, Anaheim, Minnesota, Colorado, and Calgary were all named.

  8. mtlman2005 says:

    I agree with that, but it works both ways: the west is so strong, but they have to play each other. So they might get to the finals having had to play a lot more. So, possibly, the team that comes out of the east might play a team "tired" west team. I really don't see the east as being very "hard". Im not saying the habs are going to sweep everyone, im just saying the team that comes out, habs or not, will have a easier time.

  9. mtlman2005 says:

    Although, Roy had a "bad" season in 93, and didnt step up his game until the playoffs. I would say we have a better "offensively" offense then 93, and a better PP. They had a better 2 way game, better D, better PK.

  10. leafy says:

    Exactly, Dryden and Roy are remembered for their playoff heroics, but Plant and Durnan are not as well remembered for their rookie seasons.
    Indeed I also want Washington to do well, I don't know why.  Maybe it's because there aren't any Washington fans on this site?

  11. leafy says:

    Sorry, Bru.  As soon as I find anything historical that favors your Penguins, I'll be sure to post it (although I doubt there's anything out there).

    The article is "dry"?  Of course it's dry.  It's only a simple observation about hockey.  I'm not trying to split the atom here.

  12. leafy says:

    You bring up the most important point….how Price will perform when it really matters.  Generally speaking, talented athletes tend to perform at their best when the stakes are high (that's actually a scientifically proven law in human skilled performance), although there are exception, ie, A-Rod in baseball.

    The East is so close that it's all going to come down to goaltending.  Whomever excels the most will make the Finals.

    As for the West being the dominant Conference, that's been the case the past several years.  Yet 3 of the last 4 Stanley Cup titles were won by an Eastern Conference team.

  13. leafy says:

    That's very true, and certainly the analysts say that every year.  But the fact of the matter is that the last 4 Cup winners were: New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Anaheim, 3 of whom are East teams.  Goes to show, in a best of 7 series, all the stats go out the window.

  14. leafy says:

    Re: Patrick Roy having a "bad" regular season in '93, I still remember the Montreal media calling for the Canadiens to trade Roy after losing the first 2 games to Quebec.

    That seemed to fire up Roy big time.  He then put together what is probably the greatest goaltending display in NHL history.

  15. morrissey says:

    And that, kids, is what happens to you when suck too much *****. Don't become the next BruMagnus, lay off the *****.

  16. habswinthecup-again says:

     Never mind trading Roy I almost killed myself after the way the Habs lost the 2nd game. They were up 2-0 with 2 minutes to go and they blew it, I ripped up my "new" hat my fiance gave me (I still get shit for that) and would not speak to anyone until they won game 3. Losing the Cup in '89 was nothing compared to losing that game.

     And Roy did not have a terrible year, he had an average year especially for a rookie.

  17. morrissey says:

    I like Price's past performance in high stakes games – bring on the east, then bring on the west.

  18. leafy says:

    I still remember final minutes of Game 2 like yesterday.  But Game 3 was so critical.  If Montreal lost that one, it would have been 3-0 Quebec and all over.  Instead, the Habs won in OT!

    While all this was happening, the Leafs were down 2-0 in their series against Detroit.  Who would have known….6 weeks later, we would come so close to a Leafs-Canadiens finals?  F u c k i n g  Gretzky and  f u c k i n g  Kerry Fraser.

  19. BruMagnus says:

    It's BruMagnus-, dash, always cehck the email name.
    Mine is PensCup2010.

    Don't get fooled again.

  20. BruMagnus says:

    Habs will lose 1st round to any of:

    They can beat:

  21. LuoungoisGod121 says:

    I was 11 in '93 and I can tell you this much.

    THe Habs tuffest conpetition on the way to hte cup was Quebec – I could beat the Sabres and Islanders teams that year and Wah shold thank his lucky stars that Detroit, Toronto and St Lousi got eliminated in the Campbell Conference because they would never have won  ag ainst any of those teams I mean the Kings lucked ou t that year.

    Pens suck jsut as much because they lost to the Islanerds that year and still stink now. The reason they wont' win…simple

    THey don't have a certain goalie who's name starts with Roberto, ends with Luongo and lives on the West coast.

    That's right Canuckleheads we're going all the way!

  22. LuoungoisGod121 says:

    And I might be rong but didn't Theodore practically win a series against Boston by himself when he played in Motnreal the year he wont he HART TROPHY?

    And didn't he also kinda steal as eries for Colorado against Dallas a few years ago?

    Didn't Theo win a hart trophy and vezina?

  23. OldNord says:

    yeah, anytime I read something about the real Bru, its  like "roll eyes", esti qui m'enarve…(en joual), probably almost everybody here think the same.

  24. leafy says:

    Man, I didn't even notice that. Thanks for pointing it out.  It looks to me like that guy is trying to slander you.

  25. morrissey says:

    Yep, he definitely wins the LeafyMcLeaf Memorial Annoying ***** of the Year award for this season.

  26. DoubleDown says:

    but the canucks aren't very good.

  27. OldNord says:

    Good read, the Eastern Conference is open, and Price knows how to play under pressure, they could fetch up to the SC final but in previous years, excepted Royyyy, the battle was not as hard to accomplish with less teams, so less rounds.

  28. morrissey says:

    Habs have best record against the eastern conference of all the eastern conference teams – they can win against any of them.

  29. leafy says:

    That was a powerful Pittsburgh team in '93….Mario, Jagr, Francis, Stevens, Mullen, Tocchet, Murphy, Samuelson, etc.  All in their absolute prime.

    That was the year Mario got 160 points in 60 games, despite his cancer treatment!!!!!!  How ridiculous is that?  The team also featured an NHL record 17-game winning streak, and without these bull$hit shootouts we have now.

    I still don't understand how they lost to the Islanders that year.

  30. LuoungoisGod121 says:

    Without Turgeon at that.

    Heals and Flats carreid the team that year – they worked hard and were coached by Al Arbour so that's why.

  31. UsedandAbused says:

    I don't know how Price will perform. I throw everything out the window when the Playoffs start. He is def talented, but I think Goal tending is much more mental then say baseball, so he has to have the right mentality.

    Yes that is true that 3 of the last 4 teams were Eastern Conference teams that won the cup, which is one reason why I said it could happen. However, the western conference teams were lower seeds, such as Edmonton, that got there by getting a few upsets. So if Montreal was to go against a lower seed in the west such as Colorado, then I think they could win. If someone like Detroit gets to the finals on the West I would expect them to win.

  32. LuoungoisGod121 says:

    there having a ruff season but do't count them out – one bad goal in Louongos career was all that kept them from the Stanleaey Can final.

  33. UsedandAbused says:

    As a Philly fan I am going to say this.. Anyone can beat Philly in the playoffs. They play shit defense and have nothing more then Average goaltending. I do think Montreal can beat any of those teams you mentioned. I think NJ and the Sens would give them the most trouble.

  34. leafy says:

    True, plus the Isles had a number of players with great offensive years in '93….Stumpy Thomas, Derek King, Flatley, Ferraro, Brian Mullen, Dalgarno, Marty McInnis, and David Volek (they guy who killed the Pens).  So it wasn't only Turgeon, although he was the key guy.

    Everybody remembers the job Kasparaitis did on Mario, but the Isles had other pretty good D as well…..Malakhov, Jeff Norton, Uwe Krupp, Tom Kurvers, and Scott Lachance.

    In short, a pretty good team.

  35. morrissey says:

    Habs won the season series against NJ for the first time in years, the tide may be turning between those two teams.

  36. morrissey says:

    Who didn't they beat in OT that year? That was an amazing playoffs, all those playoff wins were nerve wracking and thrilling. After the first few we were all thinking "they can't possible win again like this, we're gonna lose" but they just kept scoring in overtime, it was friggin unreal!!!

  37. BruMagnus says:

    Damn, the refs are showing their bias again in the Blues Habs game. A no call in favor of Tkachuk, just to end up in a Habs PP 10 seconds later. Then, Blues with a 3 on 1 breaking out and they call a phantom "closing the hand on the puck" penalty which was anything but… what a joke. The favoritism the Habs get… Fans watching this game have to agree it's been brutal refereeing, the Habs certainly haven't outplayed the Blues as is the Habs fans argument for why they have such a high PP/PK ratio.

    On another aside, only 1 PP for the Pens against the Rangers… but playing like shit defensively. I had a bad feeling about this game.

  38. BruMagnus says:

    Are you saying that I suck ****?

  39. BruMagnus says:

    Regular season is irrelevant when it comes to the playoffs.
    How often have we seen a team been dominating by a team in the regular season only to turn it around and dominate in the playoffs?

  40. morrissey says:

    It's certainly more relevant than your opinion.

  41. canuck67 says:

    Bru…..maybe a sign of things to come in the playoffs..Refs could bomb a few games

  42. BruMagnus- says:

    I Think he meant you suck C O C K!

    Love the real BruMagnus
  43. leafy says:

    Roy simply wouldn't let anything past him in OT.  The guy was unreal.  He was in "the zone" in those playoffs.

  44. leafy says:

    Good point, definitely the East would have a better chance if the Western powerhouses got eliminated early on.

  45. leafy says:

    Speaking of goalies, watching the Leafs game tonight, the TV analysts as usual are out to lunch.  Vesa Toskala gives up ONE bad goal in a long time, and what do they do?  They suggest he's tired after playing so many games.

    Incredible!  Last year, Andrew Raycroft would give up one shitty goal EVERY PERIOD, and not once did they suggest that he be rested.

    Anyway, great to see Toskala make the critics make complete fools of themselves yet again, as he shut the door in a 3-1 Leafs win.

  46. mtlman2005 says:

    But the hole western conference is a powerhouse… the only teams i wouldn't mind playing would have to be  the predators and maybe Colorado! Vancouver with Luango, Calgary with kipper and iggy, Dallas with Turco Ribeiro Richards, Wild are amazing on D, and obviously SJ Detroit and Anaheim are just too good.

  47. mojo19 says:

    I've never heard analysts and announcers stick up for anyone as much as they stuck up for Raycrfot last year. Brutal.

    Bottom line, Toskala is amazing, Raycroft is brutal and the single reason the 07 leafs missed the playoffs. Now where's 08-09?

  48. nordiques100 says:

    see, this is why the leafs haven't won in 41 years. leaf fans seemingly have this singleminded approach to looking at things and what is wrong with their team.

    there are several reasons why the team cant win. not just raycroft. get over it.

    let me first separate reasons from excuses. leaf nation is the best at making up excuses. injuries, a blown call by a ref, too many back to back games, etc etc. leafdom uses them, we buy into them and accept it.

    for me, its now a big crock of crap.

    there is something wrong with everything that is leafs and until people can see that, they'll never accomplish a thing. by making up excuses or living off what ifs, if only's and ifs ands or buts, it only makes things worse.

    raycroft is the perfect example. you claim he is the single reason why they missed the playoffs. ok, he wasnt great down the stretch and that was costly. however, they changed goalies this year to the apparently "amazing" toskala as you point out and they are still going to miss the dance. the entire team is the same practically, with a front line top goalie this time. so why couldnt they get the job done this time?

    the reason is not one reason at all. several things have undone this team not just this year but ever since the lockout.

    -they lack leadership
    sundin lacks support. guys like tucker and mccabe are terrible role models as they continue to whine and complain about everything and take selfish penalties to boot. kaberle is a wonderful talent, but i think his soft play epitomizes what the leafs are and that is a team that others can roll over. i think all of them do not give their premium effort each night. and to only come out playing and fighting when the fat lady has already sung speaks volumes of the team's complete lack of urgency and will over the full 82 game sked.

    -they are soft
    as pointed out above, kaberle leads a large contingent of soft players on the team. i dont think there is any other team in the NHL who loses so many puck battles, who is so poor at controlling the boards and who get knocked off so easily than the leafs. there is also an unwillingness to go to the net and in the trenches. its a lack of that presence in the lineup but also can be attributed to a lack of heart and desire, especially from the vets.

    -there is a major lack of depth at every position
    management can be blamed for that one as they continuously kept trading away prospects and picks. but this is why they fail every year. the good teams can overcome injury. the leafs will whine about it again this year losing toskala at xmas, losing mccabe for 2 months, carlo for half the year and so on. yup if they stay healthy they're going to the finals. NOT! try telling the Avs that who are still fighting for first in their division despite not having sakic, statsny or smyth for half the season. the injuries are a piss poor excuse, the lack of depth is the real concern.

    -they lack skill
    the leafs, led by jason blake, waste more shots than anyone. yes, we've heard it before that its never a bad play to shoot the puck. however when you dont go to the net,  its pointless.  outside of sundin, no one on the team can finish. and i'd put a bit of blame on the captain last year for not giving toronto a big goal down the stretch going scoreless in like the last 18 games. tucker with no points too. the overall lack of skill add much to their downfall as anything.

    -they lack hockey sense.
    do i need more evidence beyond their predictable PP? its perhaps coaching but the players should realize by now that plays 2 years ago that worked cant work now due to video, scouting etc. do something creative for a change. but maybe they cant. and this goes for both ends of the ice. some of the guys they have simply cannot comprehend anything offensively or defensively. they lean solely on natural talent but at some point you have to think. the leafs average at least one bonehead braincramp play per period. that if anything cost them as many points as a few softies by the goalie.

    I could go on and on, no front office presence, piss poor coaching, no on ice chemistry, no size, too comfortable an environment, etc, etc.

    to blame on individual is the kind of short sighted, singleminded thinking thats gotten the leafs in this hole in the first place.

  49. nordiques100 says:

    are you religious Bru? i think you may need to repent. you know full well any criticism of the habs is the true only bad sin in life.

    the habs are a great team, and easily could go to the final 4 at least.

    however if the team was like some of their fans, they would be bottom feeders

    been reading some of the comments of late. holy homerism. the bias for their own players is disgusting now. bouillon a stud on D? who comes up with this garbage? halak a top goalie? WTF? decent prospect yes, but ready NHL starter and star?

    i still shake my head from those halak/ryder/bouillon/2nd rounder offers for a top line star plus prospect proposals.

    but i guess i cant expect square pegs to fit into round holes. afterall, the worst ever comeback comment came from a habs fan.

    "wow it was great to see the leafs eliminate montreal in game 82 last year"

    hab fan "well, we get the higher draft pick so it was worth it!" pathetic….

  50. leafy says:

    Nords, you're missing the point.  Nobody is suggesting that only goaltending is important.

    But when you don't have a good goalie, nothing else matters!!!

    Everything starts with goaltending.  It is still the most important position in hockey.

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