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Canadiens salute longtime rivals

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

The proud owners of 43 Stanley Cup rings gathered at center ice on the Canadiens' 97th birthday.

MONTREAL - In a move that would have been unheard of during the heated years of the Montreal-Boston rivalry, the Habs celebrated their 97th anniversary by inviting some former Bruins greats to their birthday party.

After decades of intense battles that included a league-record 30 playoff series, the Canadiens and Bruins finally buried the hatchet. Heroes from each Original Six franchise stood side by side as their historic encounters were honored just prior to Montreal's 6-5 loss to the Bruins.

The pregame ceremony included Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur, Elmer Lach, Emile Bouchard and Pierre Bouchard, Yvon Lambert and Chris Nilan on the Habs' side and Raymond Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, Milt Schmidt, Gerry Cheevers, Wayne Cashman, Rick Middleton and Carol Vadnais for Boston.

Fans showered both their heroes and longtime rivals with cheers in a fitting salute to the 14 men standing at center ice, who all told boasted a combined 43 Stanley Cup rings, seven Art Ross Trophies, six Hart Trophies, and five Norris Trophies.

The loudest ovations went to Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur, while longtime fan favorite and tough guy Chris Nilan also received a warm reception. Hometown boy Ray Bourque got the biggest round of applause among the Bruins' greats.

Manny Almela is a writer for

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