Breadcrumb Trail Links
Sports NHL Montreal Canadiens Hockey Inside Out Hockey Columnists
Ill-fated trade of former captain just one of many poor executive decisions that have dogged the Habs since their last Stanley Cup in 1993.
When the Canadiens gather for training camp in September, they will be greeted by a new photo in the gallery above their stalls.
The photos depict the former players who have been enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame and, as last week’s headline in the Montreal Gazette noted, former Canadiens captain Pierre Turgeon is part of the HHOF Class of 2023.
But Turgeon’s tenure in Montreal was brief — 104 regular-season games and six more in the playoffs — and his departure was part of the history of mismanagement that dogged the Canadiens in the years following their last Stanley Cup victory in 1993.
In his only full season with the Canadiens in 1995-96, Turgeon put up the third-best numbers in his 19-year NHL career with 38 goals and 96 points. In the intervening years, only two Canadiens — Vincent Damphousse and Alex Kovalev — have topped 80 points.
Turgeon’s days were numbered after Montreal lost to the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs in 1996. He had six points in six games, but the Canadiens felt they saw too much of the player who won the Lady Byng Trophy as the NHL’s most gentlemanly player in 1993.
Turgeon started the next season with 11 points in nine games, but general manager Réjean Houle thought the Canadiens had to get tougher and he traded Turgeon and prospects Craig Conroy and Rory Fitzpatrick to St. Louis for Shayne Corson 2.0 and rugged defenceman Murray Baron.
It turned out to be a lopsided deal.
Over the next five seasons with the Blues, Turgeon collected 355 points in 327 games and Conroy, who was recently named general manager of the Calgary Flames, went on to play 1,009 NHL games.
Corson’s second stint with the Canadiens was merely OK. Over four seasons, he had 136 points in 242 games. As for Baron, he lasted less than a season in Montreal and was traded to Phoenix at the deadline.
There was a time Canadiens captains could count on retiring in Montreal. That’s the way it was for Toe Blake, Butch Bouchard, Maurice and Henri Richard, and Jean Béliveau. But it’s no longer the case.
If you don’t count Shea Weber, who played his last game for the Canadiens but has continued to pick up paycheques from Vegas and now Arizona, the last Canadiens captain to retire in a Montreal uniform was Bob Gainey in 1989. Since then, Chris Chelios, Guy Carbonneau, Kirk Muller. MikeKeane, Turgeon, Damphousse, Saku Koivu, Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty have all been traded.
There was some question whether Turgeon rated a spot in the HHOF and the ultra-secretive selection committee passed him over 13 times before granting him admission., He never won a Stanley Cup and he never made the season-ending all-star teams, but he did have the most points of any player not in the hall.
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was a no-brainer and the other two goaltenders selected, Mike Vernon and Tom Barrasso, each had two Stanley Cups on their resumés.
The inclusion of Vernon and Barrasso has led to speculation about how the selection committee will treat Carey Price when he is eligible in 2025. While he was generally considered the best goaltender in the world for the better part of a decade and won Olympic gold in 2014, there’s no Stanley Cup, only one Vézina Trophy and one Hart Trophy and he trails Vernon and Barrasso in wins.
Caroline Ouellette, a four-time Olympic gold medallist, received her due after being snub last year, but the committee failed to award a second women’s spot to Jennifer Botterill.
And there should be no argument with the selections in the builder’s category.
The late Pierre Lacroix went from being a successful agent to being a successful GM for the Colorado Avalanche with an assist from his No. 1 client, Patrick Roy.
And Ken Hitchcock, the fourth-winningest coach in NHL history, was always generous in sharing his knowledge of the game and you have to admire someone who lost more than 250 pounds before he could convince NHL teams to hire him.
Hickey: Habs legend Henri Richard’s CTE highlights risk of head injuries in hockey
Pat Hickey: Could Patrick Roy get another chance to coach in the NHL?
Pat Hickey: Caufield deal is a win-win, now what about Harvey-Pinard?
Share this article in your social network
Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.