Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - Montreal Canadiens - 1964-69
Spotlight
One on One Turning Point

Montreal Canadiens - 1964-69

8 JANUARY 2013
Legendary Henri Richard was part of all four Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup-winners between 1964 to 1969.
Legendary Henri Richard was part of all four Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup-winners between 1964 to 1969.
(Photo by Frank Prazak/Hockey Hall of Fame)
They call the Montreal Canadiens' 1960's decade the 'forgotten dynasty.' Jean Beliveau, in his autobiography, 'My Life in Hockey,' stated, "The Montreal Canadiens of 1964-65 to 1970-71 are probably the least-respected dynasty in NHL history, given the five Cups we won in seven seasons." Only the Toronto Maple Leafs between 1944-45 and 1950-51 and the Edmonton Oilers of 1983-84 to 1989-90 can also claim five Stanley Cup championships in seven years.

The Habs finished second in 1964-65, but were undeterred in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup. It took six games for them to beat their nemesis in Toronto, earning a spot in the Stanley Cup final for the first time since their Cup win in 1960.

Gump Worsley tended goal for all four of the Canadiens Stanley Cup wins during the stretch from 1964 to 1969.
Gump Worsley tended goal for all four of the Canadiens
Stanley Cup wins during the stretch from 1964 to 1969.
(Photo by Frank Prazak/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Facing the powerful Chicago Black Hawks, coach Toe Blake assigned Claude Provost the task of shadowing Bobby Hull, who admitted, "I've never been checked like that in my life."

Montreal took Games One and Two on home ice, but Chicago rebounded with consecutive wins when they returned to Illinois. In the first period of Game Five, John Ferguson earned a victory over the Hawks' Eric Nesterenko that rendered the feisty Chicago forward ineffective for the rest of the series. The Canadiens went on to shut out Chicago 6-0. The Hawks dusted themselves off, returned home and handed Montreal a 2-1 loss in Game Six.

Puck used by Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens to score his 450 career NHL goal
Puck used by Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens to score his 450 career NHL goal against Ed Giacomin of the New York Rangers on
February 1, 1969.
"Serious hockey fans realize that home-ice advantage in a seventh game often isn't all it's cracked up to be," wrote Jean Beliveau in his autobiography, 'My Life in Hockey.' "When one bounce of the puck can make all the difference, where you're playing doesn't matter much. When we took to the ice for the final game against Chicago, the Forum fans were Cup-starved and showed their desire to end our four-year drought with a huge ovation that pumped us from the first drop of the puck."

Beliveau responded by taking a perfect pass from Duff 14 seconds into the first period and deposited it behind Glenn Hall in the Chicago net. By the end of the first period, Montreal was up 4-0, led by the line of Beliveau, Duff and Bobby Rousseau, who paced the team with two goals and six assists. Montreal maintained that score through the remaining two periods. "Shortly after 10pm that night, I hoisted my first Stanley Cup as captain of the Canadiens," beamed Beliveau.

Defender Serge Savard joined the Montreal Canadiens for the 1967-68 season.
Defender Serge Savard joined the
Montreal Canadiens for the 1967-68 season.
(Photo by Graphic Artists/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The Montreal captain, who succeeded Doug Harvey sporting the 'c' in October 1961, collected five goals and ten points in the seven-game final, and was awarded the inaugural Conn Smythe Trophy as the post-season's most valuable performer.

Thirteen members of the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup for the first time, exhibiting just how different the roster looked since the last championship in 1960.

Jacques Laperriere won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1964 and the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 1966.
Jacques Laperriere won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1964 and the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 1966.
(Photo by Frank Prazak/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Montreal finished first in 1965-66 and was determined to repeat as Stanley Cup champion. They easily left the Leafs in their dust in the semi-final and proceeded to the final, where they faced the Detroit Red Wings.

The surprising Wings took the first two games, both played at the Montreal Forum, but the Habs roared back with victories in Games Three through Five. The Canadiens were up 2-0 midway through the second period in Game Six, played at Detroit's Olympia. But fuelled by the hometown crowd, the Red Wings battled back, collecting two goals to tie the game after sixty minutes. Overtime was brief, though. Henri Richard lost his balance while approaching Detroit netminder Roger Crozier and slid into the Wings' goal with the puck under him. Although the goal was protested amidst derision from the spectators, referee Frank Udvari ruled that the goal was good, and at 2:20 of overtime, the game concluded with the Montreal Canadiens declared Stanley Cup champions.

Fedora worn by Hector 'Toe' Blake between 1958-68 as the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
Fedora worn by Hector "Toe" Blake between
1958-68 as the head coach of the
Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal finished second in 1966-67, and once again went to the Stanley Cup final. When Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau pledged a Stanley Cup in the spring of 1967 in order to coincide with the city's hosting of Expo 67, Beliveau vowed, "I think we can do it." But Toronto foiled the confident Canadiens, using a veteran roster to edge Montreal in six games during the final.

Expansion had doubled the size of the National Hockey League in 1967-68, but the canny Pollock ensured that while his team had several players plucked to stock the six new teams, the line-up was still exceptionally strong. The Canadiens finished first in the East Division.

Yvan Cournoyer of the Montreal Canadiens was part of all four of the franchises Stanley Cup wins during a stretch from 1964 to 1969.
Yvan Cournoyer of the Montreal Canadiens was
part of all four of the franchises Stanley Cup wins during
a stretch from 1964 to 1969.
(Photo by Frank Prazak/Hockey Hall of Fame)
John Ferguson helped neutralize the Boston Bruins in the semi-final by engaging Ted Green in legendary battles during the four-game semi-final sweep. Montreal earned a spot in the Stanley Cup final for a fourth straight spring by dumping Chicago in five games.

The champion of the East Division next faced the West's champion in the revamped playoff format, meaning the Canadiens were challenged by the fledgling St. Louis Blues.

While it was the Blues first season in the NHL, they had several players who had Stanley Cup experience, including Al Arbour (Chicago and Toronto), Glenn Hall (Chicago), Don McKenney (Toronto), Ron Stewart (Toronto) and former Canadiens Red Berenson, Dickie Moore, Noel Picard, Jimmy Roberts and Jean-Guy Talbot. The Blues were coached by Scotty Bowman, who also had been trained in the Canadiens' system.

The series was closer than most would have expected. Montreal edged St. Louis 3-2 in the first game, 1-0 in Game Two and took Game Three with a 4-3 overtime win.

John Ferguson was a physical force for all four of the franchises Stanley Cup wins during a stretch from 1964 to 1969.
John Ferguson was a physical force for all four of the franchises Stanley Cup wins during a stretch from 1964 to 1969. (Photo by Frank Prazak/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Dick Duff scored midway through the first period, but St. Louis replied with two goals to head into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead. In the third stanza, Henri Richard scored to tie the game, and then Jean-Claude Tremblay scored five minutes later for what proved to be the Stanley Cup-winning goal. It was a third championship in four years for the bleu, blanc et rouge.

Montreal entered the 1968-69 campaign with a new coach. Claude Ruel replaced Toe Blake, who retired after 13 seasons behind the Canadiens' bench. The Habs finished first in the East during the regular season, and once again faced St. Louis in the battle for the Stanley Cup.

Jersey worn by Jacques Laperriere of the Montreal Canadiens jersey during the 1965-66 NHL season. The stalwart defenseman went on to capture the Norris Trophy that same season.
Surprisingly, this series was tighter than bark on a tree once again. Games One and Two, played in Montreal, concluded in identical 3-1 scores favouring the Canadiens. Rogation Vachon stonewalled the Blues in Game Three, a 4-0 win.

Surprisingly, like the previous final, this series was also tighter than bark on a tree. Games One and Two, played in Montreal, concluded in idenical 3-1 scores. Rogatien Vachon blanked St. Louis 4-0 in Game Three.

The Blues put up a valiant effort and led 1-0 going into the third period. But Ted Harris tied the score just 42 seconds into the third, and John Ferguson put Montreal up 2-1. That score held to the final buzzer, giving the Canadiens their fourth Stanley Cup in five seasons. Dick Duff scored four goals in the final, but it was Serge Savard who was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff mvp.

By anyone's measuring stick, four Stanley Cup championships in five years is a phenomenal accomplishment, and qualifies for designation as a dynasty. And yet, arguably, the 1960s are regarded as the Maple Leafs' decade, while Montreal's glory years are considered the 1950s and 1970s. It is for that reason that this outstanding achievement that sits shadowed by other accomplishments, is deemed the 'forgotten dynasty.'

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.