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Savard likes current Habs

by Dan Rosen /
TORONTO — If the Montreal Canadiens don't win the Stanley Cup this season, they will finish the decade Cup-less for the first time in history.

But Serge Savard, a defensive mainstay on the Habs' late 1970s dynasty, likes what he sees from the current Canadiens.

"They have a chance, and there are maybe eight or nine or 10 teams that have a chance to win the Stanley Cup," Savard said. "It depends what kind of team you have when the playoffs start."

Savard recalled that the Habs' team that won the Cup in 1993 — the last time Montreal (or any team from Canada) won the trophy — was down 2-0 to the Quebec Nordiques in the first round, but rallied to win the next four games and the series.

The good feeling snowballed and the Canadiens went 12-2 in the final three series to win the Cup. They beat the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings in five games in the Stanley Cup Final.

"We were two games down against Quebec in the first series and nobody thought that we were going to win the Stanley Cup then, but we beat Quebec, the toughest team we met in the playoffs," said Savard, who was the Habs' GM at the time. "After that, every round our team got better and when we played L.A. and Gretzky was there, they couldn't touch the puck in the last game. We weren't a great team, but we were a team."

Yvan Cournoyer understands there is significant pressure on this Habs' team to win the Cup this season — "I have never seen a year in Montreal where they didn't have pressure," he said — but to do it in their centennial season would be extra special.

"That would be a heck of a thing," he said. "Maybe that would take care of the next 99 years coming. I don't think we're going to be here for the next 100 years, but I would like to see another Stanley Cup for the Montreal Canadiens."

Remembering the 60s — Asked if he thinks history has forgotten the Canadiens' teams of the 1960s that won five Stanley Cups because the organization won six in the 1970s, Cournoyer admitted that may be true, but for a reason.

"The further you go from the certain situation … I won 10 Stanley Cups, but when you win Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup, you start to forget a little," Cournoyer said. "I'm sure if Montreal starts doing well from now until 20 years from now they're going to talk less about the '70s than the present time."

That being said, Cournoyer is amazed that kids today come up to him at autograph- signing sessions and talk to him about the Cup-winning teams from the '70s.

"Don't forget, now with the TV and DVD, video and movies, the young kids have their fathers showing them the DVDs of our games and that's why they pick it up," he said. "The young kids come to me and say, 'I saw you last night. I watched the DVD.' That's a big part of it."

Blame Serge — If Larry Robinson has one regret from his long and storied NHL career it's that he didn't finish it as a Montreal Canadien.

He jokingly blames the guy who was sitting to his right Friday afternoon inside the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Serge Savard was the Canadiens GM in 1989, when Robinson left to sign with the Los Angeles Kings.

"It opened a lot of doors for me going to L.A. I met a lot of great people and my daughter is now married to someone she met in L.A. I have two great grandsons," Robinson said. "A lot of great things came out of it, but you'd always like to finish what you started and that's maybe my only regret, but I blame Serge. He didn't want to sign me."

Robinson started his career in 1972 and played in Montreal for the next 17 seasons before going to L.A. to play three more. He was a six-time Cup champion, a 10-time All-Star, a two-time Norris Trophy winner and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff MVP in 1978.


Book release — As part of the celebration Friday to unveil the Canadiens' Centennial exhibit, the Hockey Hall of Fame also released a new book titled, "Honoured Canadiens." They label it the "official publication celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens."

The book, which can be purchased for $45 Canadian at the Hockey Hall of Fame's Web site, "tells the story of the individuals who were part of the most storied team in hockey before their enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame."

It is written by Andrew Podnieks with an introduction by Canadiens' owner George Gillett Jr. and a foreword written by Henri Richard. Each book has its own official number, making it a collector's item.

He said it — Asked to define the difference in pressure between playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the 1960s and the Montreal Canadiens of the early 1970s, Frank Mahovlich talked about clarity.

"If you asked a question (to a Montreal Canadien), they had an answer so your mind was clear and there wasn't any pressure," he said. "It's when you don't see things that you get the pressure. They explained things to you and told you the way things are. Everything I asked and told (former Habs GM and VP) Sam Pollack, he agreed with me. It was beautiful. When I went to (former Leafs GM and coach) Punch Imlach, we had an argument."

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