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Canadiens add Lach and Bouchard to retired jerseys

Friday, 12.04.2009 / 7:47 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The Montreal Canadiens' celebration of the franchise's 100th anniversary on Friday night included the retirement of two more jerseys.

The Canadiens raised the No. 16 worn by Elmer Lach and the No. 3 worn by Emile "Butch" Bouchard -- the two most senior players in team history -- to the rafters of the Bell Centre.

"Not only were they star players in their day, but Émile Bouchard and Elmer Lach are widely considered to be two proud Montrealers who dedicated their lives to their team and to their community. They are most deserving of this honour," Montreal Canadiens President, Pierre Boivin said.

Lach, who played with the Canadiens from 1940-54, was a member of the famous "Punch Line" with Toe Blake and Maurice Richard. He won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in 1944-45 and the Art Ross Trophy as the League's top scorer three years later. When Lach retired in 1954, he was the NHL career leader in assists with 408.

At age 91, he is the oldest living Canadien.

The No. 16 had previously been retired in honor of Henri Richard.

Bouchard, now 89, was a Canadien from 1941-56, was one of the NHL's most physical defensemen of his era. He was a four-time All-Stars and served as team captain from 1949-50 through his retirement. His son, Pierre Bouchard, played for the Canadiens in the 1970s.

Both Bouchard and Lach are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Canadiens now have retired 15 numbers in honor of 17 players. In addition to No. 16, they retired No. 12 in honor of Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer.


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I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

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