About the Montreal Canadiens
Hockey fans can’t see red, blue, and white without thinking of the Montreal Canadien’s colors. It’s only natural that the oldest continually operating team in the National Hockey League (NHL) would leave an indelible mark on the psyches of sports fans everywhere. A member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Montreal Canadians are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec. While the club’s official name is le Club de hockey Canadien, fans know them in French and English simply as “the Habs.” The Montreal Canadiens are the most successful hockey franchise in history. Are you eager to watch ice hockey history in action? Major League Vacations (MLV) brings fans close to the team with epic sports-cations. Let’s walk our way through the history, the rivalries, and the glory of the Montreal Canadiens franchise.
The Early Years
The Montreal Canadiens were founded as a charter member of the National Hockey Association before it went on to become the NHL. When J. Ambrose O’Brien founded the Canadiens in 1909, the intention was to make this a francophone team composed of both francophone ownership and players. The Canadiens had a rough start. Following an unsuccessful first season that saw the Canadiens placing last in the league, the team was transferred to the ownership of George Kennedy. However, the team soon rode to a success streak on a wave of momentum that continues to this day.
When History Came Alive on the Ice: Montreal Canadiens Take Home Their First Stanley Cup
By the 1915-1916 season, the Montreal Canadiens had managed to score their first Stanley Cup championship. In 1917, history was made when the Canadiens became one of the founding teams of the NHL. This watershed moment was followed up with the team’s first NHL Stanley Cup win during the 1923-1924 season.
The 1930s started off as a roaring decade for the Canadiens. Boasting Stanley Cup wins in both 1930 and 1931, the team was at a high point. While the Great Depression caused a sharp decline in interest in the sport, the Canadiens managed to maintain funding as other ice hockey teams around them folded. Survival during the 1930s enabled the team to catapult toward a success streak that still has not been matched in the NHL to this day. From 1953 to 1960, the Canadiens won a total of six Stanley Cups. A stunning winning streak that saw the team win five Stanley Cups in a row from 1956 to 1860 continues to be the stuff of legends!
The Montreal Canadiens in the Modern Era
The Montreal Canadiens are a team with a reputation for setting records. Nearly 60 Montreal Canadiens are Hall of Fame players. The Montreal Canadiens hold the record for winning more Stanley Cup titles than any other team. While the team’s 24 hard-earned wins place them at the top, there’s something interesting about the record. That’s because the Canadiens haven’t claimed a Stanley Cup win since the 1992–1993 season.
It’s hard to resist echoing the claim that the Montreal Canadiens settled into a state of mediocrity beginning in the early 1990s. The wins in 1986 and 1993 both shored up the team’s streak of winning at least one championship every decade since its founding. However, the streak ended when the team failed to produce a win in the 2000s.
One of the most eventful seasons for the Canadiens began in 2008. Marking 100 years of being a team, the 2008-2009 season was the season when the Montreal Canadiens hosted both the 2009 NHL All-Star Game and the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. What’s more, a 2008 match with the Florida Panthers marked the date when the Canadiens proudly became the first team in NHL history to ever reach 3,000 victories.
It’s impossible to think of the modern-day Montreal Canadiens without picturing Youppi. Welcomed during the 2004-2005 NHL season, Youppi is the first official mascot in the team’s long history. Following a long voting process, loveable Youppi became the first mascot from a Canadian-based club to be inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2020.
One thing that has remained consistent through the seasons is a rivalry the Montreal Canadiens share with the Boston Bruins. One of the NHL’s Original Six, the Bruins have played the Canadiens more than any other team since debuting in 1924. The stat of 34 head-to-head battles accounts for both regular season play and playoff games.
The Canadiens also share a legendary rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The rivalry between the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs represents a rivalry between Canada’s two largest cities. The two teams first faced off in 1917. Over the years, five of the 16 head-to-head playoff battles that took place between the teams occurred in the Stanley Cup Finals. The friction between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens represents more than just a sports rivalry. For many Canadiens, the rivalry is a dramatic expression of deep rivalries that exist as a result of Canada’s English-French linguistic chasm.
In addition to engaging in major rivalries with the Boston Bruins and Maple Leafs, the Canadiens also participated in what can be described as an intra-provincial rivalry with the Quebec Nordiques during a span that lasted from 1979 to 1995. While younger fans may be oblivious to this rivalry, it was hot enough to be known as the “Battle of Quebec” back in its day.
The Montreal Canadiens don’t just make history in their own league. The team also breaks records within the larger sports world. The Canadiens possessed the record for holding the most championship wins by a team of any of the four major North American sports until the New York Yankees took the honor away with their big 25th World Series title in 1999. However, the Montreal Canadiens still stand today as one of the most accomplished teams in the professional world.
Of course, no understanding of what makes the fandom surrounding the Montreal Canadiens so strong can be had without discussing the team’s stomping grounds. The Canadiens have played every home game since 1996 at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Formerly known as Molson Centre, the arena is the modern replacement of the Montreal Forum that served as the original base for the Canadiens. The Montreal Forum was the home of the team for seven decades before being transformed into an entertainment complex that can still be visited today.
Montreal’s Bell Centre is the world’s largest ice hockey arena! With a capacity of 21,105, this arena allows for an incredible “coming together” of fans on game day. When the arena isn’t hosting Montreal Canadiens home games, it is used for major concerts, wrestling matches, and other events. In addition to being the world’s largest arena for ice hockey, Bell Centre is consistently ranked as one of the busiest arenas on the globe. Year after year, Belle Center ranks as the arena with the highest attendance numbers in all of Canada.
How did the Montreal Canadiens get their name?
The original name format of the Montreal Canaidens was Club de Hockey Canadien. The Montreal Canadiens got their name from their first owner. John Ambrose O’Brien was very strategic with naming the team because the title was intended to be a name that appealed to French-speaking Canadians. In fact, both the initial players and owners of the team were French-speaking Canadians.
Why are the Montreal Canadiens called the Habs?
The reason why the Montreal Canadiens are called the Habs goes back to the team’s French-Canadian roots! The nickname “the Habs” is actually short for “Les Habitants.” Dating back to the 17th century, Les Habitants were the French settlers who inhabited the land along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River. One fun bit of Montreal Canadiens trivia revolves around what the “H” in the team’s logo stands for. While many people assume that the “H” seen on the Montreal Canadiens jersey is a nod to Les Habitants, the letter actually stands for the word “hockey.” According to NHL.com, the first man to refer to the team as “the Habs” was an American by the name of Tex Rickard. Sports historians may recognize Rickard as being the owner of Madison Square Garden during the 1920s. A known sports promoter and entrepreneur, Rickard was also the founder of the New York Rangers.
Final Thoughts on the History, Fury, and Undying Fandom of the Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens are simply synonymous with NHL history. This mostly has to do with the fact that this founding team of the NHL actually predates the NHL. No other team has battled its way through world history to make history on the ice. In addition to being the longest continuously operating professional ice hockey team in the world, the Canadiens also hold the record for the most Stanley Cup wins.
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