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The Montreal Canadiens Win Again!

For the week of Monday April 4, 2011

On April 10, 1956, the Montreal Canadiens won their eighth Stanley Cup after defeating the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals. The Canadiens went on to win five consecutive Stanley Cups from 1956 until 1960, emblematic of the franchise’s domination of North American professional hockey. The Canadiens, also known as the Club de hockey Canadien, is the most successful franchise in National Hockey League history. To date, the club has won 24 Stanley Cups.

Montreal Canadiens, October 1942
© Library and Archives Canada / Gazette Canada Collection / PA - 108357
Featuring the best French-Canadian players of the day, the Canadiens captured the hearts and minds of Montrealers, Quebecers and hockey fans everywhere. The club won its first Stanley Cup in the 1916-17 season against the Portland Rosebuds. In 1917, it became one of the first four teams to join the newly formed NHL.

The major era of the club’s success began when Frank Selke took over the franchise as general manager in 1946, and continued when his protégé, Sam Pollock, succeeded him in 1963. Under their leadership, the Montreal Canadiens enjoyed three dynasty teams, winning the Stanley Cup 16 times in 27 seasons between 1952 and 1979. The team’s outstanding success under Selke’s and Pollock’s leadership was the result of two innovative strategies. Selke funded “farm” teams to “grow” talented new players in communities across Canada, ensuring that the club kept the best players. For his part, Pollock adapted to the introduction of a draft system in the 1960s by trading seasoned players for future NHL stars in the form of draft picks. 

Montreal Canadiens enjoy an outdoor practice at home, in Montréal, Quebec.
© Library and Archives Canada / Canada Department of the Interior Collection / PA - 049739
 

Great and innovative hockey management produced great and innovative hockey players. The Canadiens have had 44 players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, many of whom became legends of the game. Among them are several who had a profound impact on the evolution of professional hockey, such as Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey, Bernard Geoffrion, Maurice Richard, and Howie Morenz. Morenz helped the club win three Stanley Cups in the 1920s and 1930s, and was designated a national historic person in 1976.

For these reasons, the Club de hockey Canadien was designated an event of national historic significance in 2008.

Additional information on the Montreal Canadiens is available in the archives of This Week in History: Hockey Fans riot in the name of Maurice Richard! Hockey at the Forum, Hockey’s First Superstar and Hockey’s Holy Grail.

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