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100 Greatest Players

Canadiens land 24 among 100 Greatest NHL Players

Montreal has one player for each Stanley Cup championship

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / Senior Managing Editor

LOS ANGELES -- The Montreal Canadiens had perfect number of players on the list of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian.

There were 24 of them, one for every Stanley Cup championship the Canadiens have won. 

"It's a testimony to some of the great players that played in Montreal and how great that organization was," Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson said. "Every city looks at their team in a special way. But Montreal, for them, it's the sport. It's not an event, it's an outing. Everybody dresses nice, they look forward to the game and so on and so forth.

"But what makes it special as a player is that the template was set long ago with the Rocket [Maurice Richard] and Toe Blake and everybody else. So each time a young kid came in like myself or Flower [Guy Lafleur] or whatever, we had Henri [Richard] there, or in my case Serge [Savard], who was my roommate and set the table for me and made me the player that I was. We had people there who kept us in line, Yvan Cournoyer and so on and so forth. That's what made Montreal so special."

Video: Robinson on importance of his selection to the NHL100

Every era of the Canadiens Cup-winning tradition is represented on the list, from goaltender George Vezina, who won the Canadiens' second Stanley Cup in 1924, to Denis Savard, who was a member of the last Canadiens team to win the Stanley Cup in 1993.

The Canadiens teams that won the Stanley Cup a record five times in a row from 1956-60 had seven players on the list: the Richard brothers, Bernie Geoffrion, Doug Harvey, Dickie Moore, Jean Beliveau and Jacques Plante.

They were announced as part of the first 33 players on the list in Toronto on Jan. 1.

The Canadiens dynasty that won the Stanley Cup four times in a row from 1976-79 had seven members added to the list on Friday: Robinson, Savard, Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Ken Dryden and Bob Gainey.

"The Canadiens, if you look at the 1970s, we won six Stanley Cups," Savard said. "The Canadiens dominated the 1970s in the NHL. When you look at hockey today, with the salary cap, I don't think we could have kept the team that we had, the team the people of Montreal had in the 1970s. It's going to be difficult to see that again. It's hard today to keep four or five real superstars on your team. We had more than that on our team."

Video: Serge Savard on his playing days in the 1970s

In 1976-77, the Canadiens lost eight times in 80 regular-season games, a mark Robinson is fairly confident no one will ever repeat.

"That was a special team, and what made us so special is we didn't have any weaknesses," he said. "We could play it fast, we could play it slow, we could play it tough. Any way you wanted to play the game, we had guys that could play it that way.

"They always talk about the eight losses, but the year after I think we had [10] and the year after that we had [17]. Most teams in today's era have that many in probably the first half of the season. I don't think anybody will ever match eight losses."

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