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Etched in History

Etched in History

Canadiens capped historic run with fifth straight Cup title in 1959-60

Maurice Richard's final title team featured in series about champions 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.

 

1959-60 MONTREAL CANADIENS

Regular-season record: 40-18-12 (92 points), first in NHL
Coach: Toe Blake
Captain: Maurice Richard
Names on the Cup: 27
Players on the Cup: 20
Future Hall of Fame players on the Cup: Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dickie Moore, Jacques Plante, Henri Richard, Maurice Richard

 

Stanley Cup engraving anomalies: Tom Johnson appears as Thom Johnson; Dickie Moore appears as Rich Moore.

A name on the Cup: Bernie Geoffrion was among 12 Canadiens to play on all five championship teams between 1956-60. Nicknamed Boom Boom for the sound his heavy slap shot made when it hit the boards, he established a Stanley Cup Playoff record that spanned a decade and will likely never be topped: From 1951-60, Geoffrion played in all 53 Stanley Cup Final games. Montreal won six titles in that time.

 

How they made history

The Canadiens won their record fifth consecutive Stanley Cup title in record-tying fashion, joining the 1951-52 Detroit Red Wings as the only teams to go through the two best-of-7 playoff rounds undefeated.

Montreal swept the Toronto Maple Leafs in four games after having done the same to the Chicago Black Hawks in the NHL Semifinals, sparking debate as to whether it was the greatest team in League history.

Video: Jacques Plante is first goalie to regularly don mask

This championship was largely about staying and going. Staying would be goalie Jacques Plante's mask. The goaltending pioneer made history by wearing it during a game Nov. 1, 1959, at the New York Rangers, refusing to return to action unless he could wear a mask to protect his face, which was gruesomely cut by an Andy Bathgate shot and stitched up.

And going, though the news was not disclosed in the glow of victory, would be iconic Montreal forward Maurice "Rocket" Richard, who announced his retirement Sept. 15, 1960. The Canadiens captain won the Cup eight times and scored a then-record 544 goals during his injury-riddled, 18-season NHL career.

"The mask is here to stay," Canadiens coach Toe Blake said after Plante shut out the Maple Leafs 4-0 in Game 4. "I wasn't in accord with [Plante's] experiments with masks. I wasn't sure a mask was necessary. But he'd had some indifferent games and I figured it was worthwhile going along with his idea."

Behind the mask, Plante won eight straight postseason games with three shutouts, a .950 save percentage and 1.35 goals-against average.

Maurice "Rocket" Richard hangs up his skates for the final time beside his famous No. 9 jersey, having won his eighth Stanley Cup title.

 

The fire-breathing Richard, meanwhile, was rumored to be at the end of his illustrious road. He scored his 82nd NHL playoff goal in Game 3 of the Final, his only goal of the 1960 playoffs, and stopped to pick up the puck before returning to the bench.

"I don't know why I picked it up," Richard said. "I haven't got the puck from my first playoff goal, but I'd like to have the one from my last. If I get another playoff goal, some kid can have this one. But that doesn't mean I'm going to retire because I don't know for sure what I intend to do."

Speculation was that Richard, who was having difficulty keeping his weight in check and had sustained a series of injuries in recent seasons, would wait until the start of the 1960-61 season to decide whether to keep playing at age 38. But in late May, Richard told his family that he'd had enough, though he didn't make his retirement official until September.

Maurice Richard accepts the Stanley Cup from NHL President Clarence Campbell on behalf of his teammates after the Montreal Canadiens sweep the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Final.

 

Blake ran his own remarkable streak to five Stanley Cup wins without a series loss, his playoff record since taking over Montreal in 1955-56 a staggering 40-9.

"I never dreamed we would knock off both Chicago and Toronto in straight games," the coach said.

Toe Blake won the Stanley Cup in each of his first five seasons as Canadiens coach.

 

Chicago forward Bobby Hull, like the rest of the Black Hawks and the Maple Leafs, had no answer for Montreal's offense and its strength on the blue line and in goal.

"There were an awesome group," Hull said in "The Stanley Cup: A Hundred Years of Hockey at its Best," D'Arcy Jenish's 1992 book. "They just kept coming at you. Five after five right down to their so-called third and fourth lines."

Blake and general manager Frank Selke joined 12 players who were members of the five consecutive Cup-winning teams: Harvey, Jean Beliveau, Plante, Dickie Moore, Bernie Geoffrion, Tom Johnson, Jean-Guy Talbot, Claude Provost, Bob Turner, Don Marshall, Richard and the Rocket's younger brother, Henri.

From left, Canadiens forwards Andre Pronovost, Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion and Dickie Moore. With Maurice Richard's retirement, Doug Harvey was named Montreal captain for the 1960-61 season; Beliveau had the honor from 1961 until his retirement in 1971.

 

If the Canadiens dressing room had been raucous in 1959, their quarters in 1960 were one of almost strangely quiet satisfaction.

"Well," said Harvey, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman for the fifth of seven times in his career, "when you win 4-0 and win in four games after four Cup titles, you don't get too excited."

Vezina Trophy-winning Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante, wearing a mask of his own design, sees a shot by Billy Harris of the Maple Leafs hit the goal post during a game late in the 1959-60 season.

 

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

1956-57 Canadiens | 1957-58 Canadiens | 1958-59 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. Chicago Black Hawks

Won Stanley Cup Final 4-0 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Game 1: April 7 at Montreal: Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
Game 2: April 9 at Montreal: Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Game 3: April 12 at Toronto: Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 2
Game 4: April 14 at Toronto: Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 0

Stanley Cup-winning goal: Jean Beliveau, Game 4, 8:16 of the first period

Canadiens' leading scorer in final: Henri Richard (eight points; three goals, five assists)

Winning goalie: Jacques Plante (4-0 record, 240 minutes played, five goals against, one shutout, 1.25 GAA)

 

Regular-season trophy winners

Norris Trophy: Doug Harvey

Vezina Trophy: Jacques Plante

Longtime Canadiens teammates Doug Harvey (left) and Maurice Richard; the original NHL scoresheet from Game 4.

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