This came out in the Edmonton Journal, written by John MacKinnon, and it’s quite amazing. Somehow, some place, the TSN gang must have got together and dropped some acid. MacKinnon’s story is entitled…
“Habs’ Dream Team Falls Flat With Imagination Shackled”
So, in honour of the Montreal Canadiens centenary, TSN has assembled the “Ultimate Canadiens Team,” and it’s pretty much a laugh riot.
The TV folks put Jean Beliveau at centre between Dickie Moore and Maurice Richard on the first line. Fair enough. Then things got weird.
Saku Koivu between John Ferguson and Bobby Rousseau on the second line was an odd decision, and Brian Skrudland between Andre Pronovost and Jim Roberts on the ‘energy’ line, was a stretch, no offence to those splendid gentlemen, Cup-winners all.
The checking line of Guy Carbonneau between Bob Gainey and Claude Provost is OK, if you really need a checking line on a fantasy team. But the sublime Doug Harvey partnered with Mike Komisarek as the top defensive pairing? Ted Harris and Craig Ludwig as the third duo?
Michel (Bunny) Larocque backing up the incomparable Jacques Plante in goal?
Obviously, TSN was using some sort of ghost roster format to sort through 100 years of excellence. The network tried to inject a dash of realism — a questionable measure when the point is to indulge in fantasy — by limiting the number of Hockey Hall of Famers on the team to eight.
Still, an all-time assemblage of Les Glorieux with none of Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Howie Morenz, Aurele Joliat, Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard, Joe Malone, Yvan Cournoyer, Newsy Lalonde, Guy Lapointe, Chris Chelios, Jacques Laperriere, Emile (Butch) Bouchard, Tom Johnson, Sprague Cleghorn, Lorne (Gump) Worsley, Frank Mahovlich, Pete Mahovlich, Georges Vezina, Bert Olmstead, Dickie Duff, George Hainsworth, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Steve Shutt, J.C. Tremblay, Rod Langway, Mats Naslund and Boom-Boom Geoffrion suiting up is mighty light on glory.
So how do you get to the right answer? That’s not so easy.
In this company, 50-goal scorers Pierre Larouche and Stephane Richer, or two-time 40-goal man Mark Napier, sit far down the list.
Others who wouldn’t make the cut:
Vincent Damphousse, Kirk Muller, Bobby Smith, Hall of Famer Buddy O’Connor, who centred the Razzle Dazzle Line, on and on.
To simplify, you could go with an all-native Montrealer team and start with the Richard brothers, Geoffrion, Lemaire and Moore up front with Harvey, Savard, Bouchard and Cleghorn on the back end, and the Gumper and Jose Theodore (Hart and Vezina Trophies in 2002) in goal.
How about the entire ’59-60 team, which capped off the five-in-a-row dynasty, or the ’76-77 edition, the best of the four-straight gang of the 1970s. You wouldn’t be wrong, either way.
Selecting Fergie, Skrudland, Harris and Ludwig ahead of a busload of Hall of Famers might be a bizarre conversation starter, but sifting through the Canadiens greats is quite a discussion, no matter how you attack it. With no right answer, finally.