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Etched in History

Canadiens won Cup behind Maurice Richard, Geoffrion in 1956-57

Back-to-back champions featured in series about teams being removed from trophy

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / NHL.com Columnist

Every 13 years when the bottom band of the Stanley Cup is filled with names of champions, the top band is removed and retired to be displayed in the vault of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The current top band, featuring NHL championship teams from 1953-54 to 1964-65, is coming off, and four bands below it are sliding up one place to make room for a fresh fifth band at the bottom that will begin with the 2017-18 Washington Capitals. Each day through Oct. 2, NHL.com will look at one of the 12 Cup-winning teams leaving hockey's most coveted trophy.

 

1956-57 MONTREAL CANADIENS

Regular-season record: 35-23-12 (82 points), second in NHL
Coach: Toe Blake
Captain: Maurice Richard
Names on the Cup: 26
Players on the Cup: 19
Future Hall of Fame players on the Cup: Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dickie Moore, Bert Olmstead, Jacques Plante, Henri Richard, Maurice Richard

 

Stanley Cup engraving anomalies: None

A name on the Cup: Larry "Red" Aubut, a team trainer and assistant trainer, among other roles, won the Stanley Cup eight times with Montreal between 1957-69. Aubut stitched the skin and equipment of Canadiens and senior-league Montreal Royals players during hockey season, then moved upstairs to sell ads in the Montreal Forum program/magazine during the summer.

 

How they made history

The Boston Bruins didn't like their odds heading into the Stanley Cup Final against the Canadiens, nor should they have, even after upsetting the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL Semifinals to prevent a fourth straight Final between Montreal and Detroit. Boston had lost six consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff series to Montreal dating to 1946, including two in the Final; a five-game loss in 1957 made it seven. And Boston's postseason skies didn't brighten for decades when it came to Montreal; from 1958-87, the Bruins lost another 11 straight playoff series to the Canadiens, three of them in the Final.

Montreal was headed for a sweep before it was shut out in Game 4 by Don Simmons, a 2-0 loss in Boston. But that proved to be little more than a speed bump on the Canadiens' road to victory, a 5-1 win in Game 5 at the Montreal Forum emphatically proving which was the better team.

Claude Provost of the Canadiens, among the best checking forwards of his day, won nine Stanley Cup championships.

 

"I feel very, very relieved," said Toe Blake, having won the Stanley Cup in each of his first two seasons as Canadiens coach. "I was worried about this series since it started. After all, why shouldn't I have been? The Bruins won seven games and tied three against us during the season."

Blake, whose Canadiens won four of 14 games against the Bruins during the regular season, said the Final was a full team effort, though forwards Bernie Geoffrion and Maurice "Rocket" Richard, with four goals each, accounted for eight of the 15 Montreal goals in the series.

"Of course, you have to give [Geoffrion] credit," Blake said. "And don't forget Rocket for his inspired play. He started us off with a bang when he got those four goals in the first game."

Richard, the first-year captain, dropped seven pucks into a steel pail -- four of them symbolizing his four goals, plus three for good measure -- while posing for photographers in the dressing room following the Canadiens' 5-1 victory in Game 1.

Maurice Richard poses for photographers after scoring four goals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, and Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante celebrates the championship with Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau as versatile forward Donnie Marshall watches over Drapeau's shoulder.

 

The bad blood between the teams was evident in the final minute of the first period of Game 5 when Canadiens forward Bert Olmstead and Bruins defenseman Fern Flaman engaged in what was deemed the Forum's biggest brawl of the season.

Bruins forward Leo Labine roughed up Olmstead in the Boston end of the rink when Flaman charged in, both men "swinging from the floor before anyone got close to them," according to a newspaper report. Olmstead and Flaman drew fighting majors while all the other skaters on the ice paired off, including Montreal center Jean Beliveau and Labine. On the resulting power play, Dickie Moore scored the Cup-winning goal 14 seconds into the second period.

Canadiens forwards Bernie Geoffrion (left) and Bert Olmstead flank their center, Jean Beliveau.

 

"Olmstead couldn't skate and he isn't stylish. All he can do is win," Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante said of his teammate, who won four Stanley Cup titles with Montreal (1953, '56, '57, '58) and one more with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1962).

Plante wouldn't wear a mask in games until 1959 but was experimenting freely in practice. Geoffrion, who loved a good joke, even posed with Plante as he "tested" the durability of a clear plastic mask, tapping it with his stick.

Canadiens forward Bernie Geoffrion has some fun with goalie Jacques Plante during practice.

 

Donnie Marshall, a versatile forward who was moved around by Blake, was a valuable member of the Canadiens. He scored his only goal of the Final in Game 5, playing on a line with Moore and Floyd Curry.

"Every team must have a Marshall," Blake said. "He could scale peaks on one set line but we get more mileage out of him [moving him around]."

 

[Read all Etched in History stories: 1953-54 Red Wings | 1954-55 Red Wings | 1955-56 Canadiens |

1957-58 Canadiens | 1958-59 Canadiens | 1959-60 Canadiens | 1960-61 Black Hawks |

1961-62 Maple Leafs | 1962-63 Maple Leafs | 1963-64 Maple Leafs | 1964-65 Canadiens]

 

Stanley Cup Playoffs

Won Semifinal 4-1 vs. New York Rangers

Won Stanley Cup Final 4-1 vs. Boston Bruins

Game 1: April 6 at Montreal: Canadiens 5, Bruins 1
Game 2: April 9 at Montreal: Canadiens 1, Bruins 0
Game 3: April 11 at Boston: Canadiens 4, Bruins 2
Game 4: April 14 at Boston: Bruins 2, Canadiens 0
Game 5: April 16 at Montreal: Canadiens 5, Bruins 1

Stanley Cup-winning goal: Dickie Moore, Game 5, 0:14 of the second period

Canadiens' leading scorer in Final: Bernie Geoffrion (six points; four goals, two assists)

Winning goalie: Jacques Plante (4-1 record, 300 minutes played, six goals against, one shutout, 1.20 GAA)

 

Regular-season trophy winners

Norris Trophy: Doug Harvey

Vezina Trophy: Jacques Plante

Dickie Moore, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal against the Boston Bruins, and the original NHL scoresheet from Game 5 of the Final.

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