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A brief history: Montreal Canadiens

by Michael Stainkamp
Depending on your point of view, the Montreal Canadiens are the New York Yankees of hockey -- or the Yankees are the Montreal Canadiens of baseball.

The Canadiens were founded in 1909 and played in the National Hockey Association; they are the only current NHL franchise that existed before the League was formed in 1923. The team has had the same uniform colors since 1914, different combinations of red, blue and white, and is an important part of French-Canadian culture.

They won their first Stanley Cup as a meber of the NHL in 1924 and have won more Cups than any other franchise -- 24 in all, 23 as a member of the NHL They won at least one Cup in every decade from the 1910s to the 1990s.

Many of hockey's greatest names wore the bleu, blanc et rouge -- from Howie Morenz to Maurice "Rocket" Richard, to Jean Beliveau, Jacques Plante and Guy Lafleur. In all, 44 Canadiens have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Canadiens are the only team in NHL history to win five Stanley Cups in a row. From 1956 through 1960, a Stanley Cup parade was an annual rite of spring in Montreal. The Canadiens also won four times in five years from 1965-69, twice in three years from 1971-73 and took home four consecutive Cups from 1976-79 -- giving them 10 in 15 years, a stretch of dominance unmatched in NHL history. The 1976-77 team may have been the greatest ever to take the ice; that club lost just eight times in 80 regular-season games and had little trouble winning the Stanley Cup.

The Canadiens became the first team in NHL history to reach 3,000 victories when they won on Dec. 29, 2008, and celebrated their 100th anniversary last Dec. 4. No other team has come close to the success enjoyed by the Canadiens in their first 100 years.

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