The Montreal Canadiens: The Most Successful Canadian Hockey Team of All Time

The Montreal Canadiens are the oldest continuously operating team in the National Hockey League (NHL) and have won more Stanley Cup titles than any other team. With two championships, they are the most successful franchise in league history. The Canadiens have achieved an impressive feat, winning the Stanley Cup in nine consecutive decades, from 1916 to 1993. The 1960 Canadian champion team is often considered to be the best in NHL history. This team set 21 NHL records, including the record for the most points in the regular season (13), which is still standing, and the record for the highest goal difference (most-21).

They quickly made it through the playoffs with a minimum of eight games, three by closing, sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs to win Montreal's twelfth NHL title. The 1943-44 Canadiens lost just five games on a 50-game wartime schedule and then won the Cup in nine games, one above the minimum. The Canadians were led by center Elmer Lach's newly formed Punch Line, between right winger Maurice Richard and left winger Blake, who led the Canadians to championships in the 1950s and 1960s. The 1965 Montreal title marked the end of a 13-year drought for Canadian fans who wanted a championship.

The Canadians finished first in all six NHL teams during the regular season, leading the League in goals scored (22) and allowing the fewest goals against (13). They defeated the New York Rangers 4-1 in the semifinals and ended the Red Wings' bid for their third consecutive championship by winning the final in five games. The 1976-77 edition of the Montreal Canadiens is also considered to be one of the best teams in NHL history. This team lost just eight games in regulation and then swept through the playoffs with a minimum of eight games, three by closing.

Steve Shutt led the NHL with 60 goals, setting a league record for a left winger. There were four more than his linemate Guy Lafleur, whose 136 points earned him the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top scorer and the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player. Lafleur also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup qualifiers. The 1977-78 edition of Montreal Canadiens was also a big favorite. Thirteen members of this team won the Cup for the first time, as the squad had been largely modified compared to the dynasty of the late 1950s.

It was also Montreal's first win in a streak of four championships in five seasons. Beliveau received the first Conn Smythe Trophy, presented to recognize the most valuable player of the postseason. More recently, Colorado Avalanche tied with Tampa Bay with Stanley Cup wins in 1996 and 2001 and, most recently, beat Tampa to win its third Stanley Cup. And why not? In the past 20 years, they have won more hockey games than any other Canadian NHL team. The Montreal Canadiens are members of Canadian hockey royalty and are undoubtedly one of the best teams in hockey history. Although they have had significant organizational weaknesses, a new group of younger players has emerged with great promise.

Jonathan Drouin, Philip Danault, Brandan Galagher, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki have all shown great promise and have yet to play an important role for younger players to succeed.