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Etched in History

Canadiens won third straight Stanley Cup title in 1957-58

Maurice Richard-led 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.

 

1957-58 MONTREAL CANADIENS

Regular-season record: 43-17-10 (96 points), first in NHL
Coach: Toe Blake
Captain: Maurice Richard
Names on the Cup: 29
Players on the Cup: 23
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: Jacques Plante was on five consecutive Stanley Cup championship teams from 1956-60, but his name was spelled four ways. This time it was spelled Jac Plante. The other spellings: J. Plante (1956), Jacques Plante ('57), Jacq Plante ('59) and Jacques Plante ('60).

A name on the Cup: Goaltender Gerry McNeil played the entire season with Rochester of the American Hockey League, but the 1953 and 1957 Cup winner appears on the trophy as a '58 winner and is in some team photos as Plante's backup. (Goalie Charlie Hodge, who played 12 regular-season games in 1957-58 but none in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, also appears as a '58 Cup winner.)

 

How they made history

After the Canadiens scored 13 goals in the first two games of the NHL Semifinals (8-1 and 5-1 victories against the Detroit Red Wings) on the way to a four-game sweep, Toronto Maple Leafs icon Hap Day was impressed.

"You know, the League used to worry about the Chicago Black Hawks not being strong enough," said Day, who coached Toronto to five Stanley Cup titles in the 1940s, referencing Chicago's four straight last-place finishes from 1953-57. "But now the worry is about the Canadiens being too strong for the rest of the League."

Montreal Canadiens forward Dickie Moore has his cast inspected by teammate Bert Olmstead.

 

In more ways than one. Montreal forward Dickie Moore led the NHL with 84 points (36 goals, 48 assists) in 1957-58, having played the final three months of the regular season with a knuckles-to-elbow cast on his broken left wrist. Moore, the consummate team player, didn't want to hamper the Art Ross Trophy chase of his center, Henri Richard, and expressed as much to coach Toe Blake on the train to a road game. But Blake had none of it, and Moore won the Ross, finishing four points ahead of Richard (28 goals, 52 assists).

It took the Canadiens six games to get past the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final and win their third of five consecutive championships. Montreal general manager Frank Selke said the Canadiens were lucky to win a 2-1 squeaker at home in Game 1, and New York Rangers GM Muzz Patrick, whose team had been eliminated in six games by the Bruins in the NHL Semifinals, picked Boston to upset Montreal after the Bruins' convincing 5-2 road victory in Game 2 of the Final.

But visiting Montreal rebounded with a 3-0 win in Game 3 before Boston tied the series 2-2 with a 3-1 win in Game 4 at home.

That was the last Bruins victory. The Canadiens pushed them to the brink with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 5, then won the their 10th Stanley Cup championship with a 5-3 victory on Boston ice in Game 6.

Maurice Richard enjoys a rare quiet moment at home with his parents, Alice and Onesime.

 

Canadiens forward Maurice Richard scored the third Final overtime goal of his career to defeat the Bruins in Game 5, an NHL record. It was also the sixth overtime goal of his Stanley Cup Playoff career, an NHL record that stood until Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche broke it in 2006 (Sakic holds the record with eight). This was the latest milestone for the Rocket; on Oct. 19, 1957, he became the first NHL player to score 500 regular-season goals.

"I've been nervous since August when they first started all that talk about my 500th goal," said Richard, who began the season with 493 and ended it with 508, limited to 28 games and 15 goals with an Achilles tendon injury.

He was in good playoff form, scoring 15 points (an NHL-leading 11 goals, four assists) in 10 games.

Bruins goalie Don Simmons, who had a 2.46 goals-against average in the Final, gave Montreal all it could handle.

"All I can say is that I've never seen better goaltending," Red Wings coach Sid Abel said of Simmons.

 

Boston Bruins goalie Don Simmons couldn't stop them all, but he was often dazzling against the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final.

 

Detroit GM Jack Adams, whose team was broken up by trades after five Stanley Cup championships in the 1950s, infuriating Red Wings players and fans alike, insisted that the demise of the Canadiens was imminent. But Montreal won the next two championships.

"Montreal has a great club but time is running out on Maurice Richard and (defenseman) Doug Harvey," Adams said. "When the Canadiens lose those two, they are going to have trouble despite their Phil Goyettes, Andre Pronovosts and Dickie Moores."

In Montreal's dressing room at Boston Garden after the clinching victory, there was little concern about the future, only a celebration of the moment.

Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Doug Harvey (left) and Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Jacques Plante, shown here in 1958 against Toronto Maple Leafs forward Dick Duff, were anchors of the Canadiens' often airtight defense.

 

"This is a great gang and it's a good thing they didn't stop driving or we would have been in plenty of trouble," said Blake, who ran his championship streak to three in as many seasons as Canadiens coach. "I knew we were in for a very tough series as soon as I saw how the Bruins handled the Rangers. I can't pick out an outstanding player (on the Canadiens). They all played their hearts out."

It was an auspicious playoff debut for Sen. Hartland de Montarville Molson and his brother, Thomas, who the previous September bought a 60 percent stake in the Canadian Arena Company, which owned and operated both the Montreal Forum and the Canadiens, from Sen. Donat Raymond. (Hartland was the great-uncle of current Canadiens owner Geoff Molson; Thomas was his grandfather.) Montreal won six championships under chairman Hartland Molson before his retirement in 1968.

 Sen. Hartland de Montarville Molson (left), the Canadiens owner, with Montreal Mayor Sarto Fournier, the latter presenting a gift of cufflinks to center Jean Beliveau.

 

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

1956-57 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 4-0 vs. Detroit Red Wings

Won Stanley Cup Final 4-2 vs. Boston Bruins

Game 1: April 8 at Montreal: Canadiens 2, Bruins 1
Game 2: April 10 at Montreal: Bruins 5, Canadiens 2
Game 3: April 13 at Boston: Canadiens 3, Bruins 0
Game 4: April 15 at Boston: Bruins 3, Canadiens 1
Game 5: April 17 at Montreal: Canadiens 3, Bruins 2 (OT)
Game 6: April 20 at Boston: Canadiens 5, Bruins 3

Stanley Cup-winning goal: Bernie Geoffrion, Game 6, 19:26 of the second period

Canadiens' leading scorer in Final: Bernie Geoffrion (eight points; five goals, three assists)

Winning goalie: Jacques Plante (4-2, 366 minutes played, 14 goals against, one shutout, 2.30 GAA)

 

Regular-season trophy winners

Art Ross Trophy: Dickie Moore

Norris Trophy: Doug Harvey

Vezina Trophy: Jacques Plante

Bernie Geoffrion signs autographs outside the Canadiens dressing room with Henri Richard in the background; the original NHL scoresheet from Game 6.

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