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A history of numbers and pride


MONTREAL | March 16th, 2009
A history of numbers and pride
With 100 years of history under its belt, the Canadiens have seen hundreds of talented players come through the ranks.  At the end of every season, one of those players flies to the head of the class and finishes as the club’s leading scorer.  

In the team’s early years, while the Canadiens were still part of the National Hockey Association, two of the game’s biggest stars, Newsy Lalonde and Didier Pitre, continually rose to the top as the Habs’ cream of the crop.  Throughout the franchise’s first four years of existence, goals were the only stat that counted, but in 1913-14 that all changed when assists began making their way into the record books, helping determine who the team’s true scoring leader really was.

Since the NHL’s inauguration in 1917 – and the stringent statistical reporting mechanisms that came with it – 42 different Canadiens’ players have found themselves at the top of the league’s point leader board at season’s end.  

The youngest to accomplish the feat was John Quilty in 1940-41, who notched 34 points in 48 games in the season.  Not only were the rookie’s numbers good enough for a Calder Trophy nod at the end of the year, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound center was just 20 years old at the time, four years fewer than his next youngest competition.

At the other end of the age spectrum is one of the biggest stars of the 1950s and 1960s, Jean Beliveau.  Approaching 40 in 1970-71, “Le Gros Bill” took his place as the Habs’ leading scorer for the sixth time in 20 seasons.  In his last campaign as a member of the Canadiens, Beliveau found the back of the net 25 times, assisting on 51 others for a total of 76 points.  

The majority of players who have made their way into the prestigious club have done so between 25 and 35 years of age. That was the case for Guy Lafleur, who hit the milestone on eight separate occasions, including six consecutive years, from 1974-75 to 1979-80, a record topped only by Howie Morenz’s seven straight years as the points leader, from 1925-26 to 1931-32.  Lafleur also found his way into the franchise’s record books, posting the six highest single-season individual totals in history, ranging from 119 to 136 points in the regular season.  

There are a few other notable names to have led the Canadiens in scoring on more than one occasion.  Maurice Richard and Toe Blake hit the mark five times, and Aurele Joliat, Mats Naslund and Elmer Lach all reached the benchmark in four campaigns.  Most recently, Vincent Damphousse successfully found himself at the team’s summit at the end of three separate seasons. 

The last three years have belonged to Alex Kovalev, who was the points leader twice, and to Saku Koivu who led the team in scoring once.  The Canadiens’ captain has found himself at the top of the leader board on three occasions since he first hit the Bell Centre ice in 1995.  With the season Andrei Markov is having this year, he is poised to become only the second defenseman in franchise history to lead the team in scoring, following in the footsteps of Sprague Cleghorn in 1921-22.