All sports have their dynasties. There’s the mid-1990s Dallas Cowboys, the 1990s Chicago Bulls and, arguably, today’s New England Patriots. Among the most important — and original — sports dynasties is the mid-19th century Montreal Canadiens. Since their founding, the Canadiens have become one of the most storied clubs in the history of hockey.
The Canadiens have been a good team off and on during their history. They were one of the first teams in the NHL; the first game was held on January 5, 1910, and the team won their first Stanley Cup in 1917.
However, their glory years were the seasons between 1956 and 1979, where the team won 15 NHL championships in 23 seasons.
The real dynasty of the Canadiens began when head coach Toe Blake took the helm. The first team had several all-stars on it, and some of the best players included Doug Harvey, Dollard St-Laurent, Tom Johnson, Butch Bouchard, and Jacques Plante. That team won five straight championships. During that period, the team won 40 of 49 playoff games, and they didn’t fall behind in any series.
The team’s reign did not just last through the ’50s. It continued as the team roster changed through the 1970s, when they won seven more cups.
During the years that the Canadiens dominated the league, Jean Beliveau became one of the team’s best players. Beliveau was the first player to ever be given the Conn Smythe Trophy. While credit is certainly due to players like Beliveau, there is also someone else who deserves credit for the decades’ long dynasty. Beliveau summed it up best, when he said:
“In the 1960s we had a very good team, but we were not head and shoulders above the rest of the league as we had been in the 1950s,” said Beliveau. “The difference was that we had the very best coach (Toe Blake) in hockey and a man who could get the best out of his players at all times.”
Thanks to their historic legacy, skilled roster of players and talented coaching, The mid-19th century Canadiens established an incomparable hockey dynasty. Many contemporary hockey fans still believe that the team’s reign continues to be the most impressive in the history of hockey.