Founded in 1909 and part of the Original Six NHL teams, almost 900 people have had the honor of wearing the Habs crest on their sweater. 18 players have had the privilege of having their number retired, but what about some of the players that won’t have their number hanging from the ceiling of the Bell Centre any time soon?
Number 5- Marc Denis
Marc Denis spent the bulk of his NHL career with the Blue Jackets in the early 2000’s. He was signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2006 and spent two very inconsistent seasons with the Bolts before he was bought out in the summer of 2008. Denis signed with the Montreal Canadiens for the 2008-09 season, but spent most of the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. He appeared on the Canadiens’ roster multiple times as their injury replacement, but only suited up for one game in relief of Jaroslav Halak on Januray 2, 2009, posting a 3.00 goals against average and .859 save percentage. It was his only game in Montreal, and after the season he retired, eventually becoming a broadcaster for RDS sports in Montreal.
Number 4- Darcy Tucker
Tucker is best known for his eight-year stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but his professional hockey career began with the Montreal Canadiens, where he was drafted 151 overall in 1993. When Tucker turned pro during the 1995-96 season he was assigned to the Fredericton Canadiens, Montreal’s AHL affiliate. He won the Red Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s top rookie. Tucker made the Montreal Canadiens roster at the start of the 1996-97 season, his lone full season with the Habs. On January 15, 1998 he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning as part of a package deal highlighted by Patrick Poulin.
Number 3- Bryan Smolinski
Drafted 21st overall in 1990 by the Boston Bruins, Bryan Smolinski was a veteran of 992 NHL games by the time the summer of 2007 rolled around. A 16-year NHL veteran, he signed his final NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens on July 2, 2007. Smolinski suited up for 64 games scoring eight goals and 25 points, as well as 12 of the Canadiens playoff games registering three points. During the season he played in his 1,000th NHL game against the team who drafted him, the Boston Bruins. It ended up being his last season in the NHL, and he finished his career with 1,055 games played and 651 points.
Number 2- Francois Beauchemin
Remembered for his three separate stints with the Anaheim Ducks, Francois Beauchemin was drafted by the Canadiens 75th overall in 1998. His professional career didn’t get off to a strong start, as he spent his first four seasons in the AHL. When the Habs’ AHL affiliate moved to Hamilton, Beauchemin started to see his game improve. His lone NHL game with the Canadiens came on February 7, 2003 against the Wild, where he went pointless. His play greatly improved for the Bulldogs during the 2003-04 season, when he became their top defenseman. Before the 2004-05 lockout, Beauchemin was placed on waivers and claimed by the Blue Jackets, where upon the completion of the lockout, he became a regular NHLer.
Number 1- Trevor Linden
The Canucks legend spent 16 years of his 22 year career with Vancouver, however, there was a six year stint from 1998 to 2002 when he left the nest to explore the NHL. Leaving Vancouver at the 1998 trade deadline, he was shipped to the Islanders where he would finish out the season as well as the 1998-99 season. On May 29, 1999, the Islanders dealt Linden to the Montreal Canadiens for financial reasons for a first round pick in 1999. His time in Montreal was injury ridden, playing in 50 games in 1999-00 and 55 in 2000-01. Despite the injuries, Linden did sign a four-year extension with the Habs, but on November 10, 2001 Linden was again traded, this time to the Washington Capitals.
Yet anther player that was drafted by the Canadiens, Tomas Vokoun was taken in the ninth round, 226 overall, in 1994. Working his way up through the ECHL and the AHL, he made his NHL debut with the Canadiens on February 6, 1997 against the Philadelphia Flyers. He allowed four goals in 20 minutes before being supplanted by Jose Theodore. The following summer he was selected by the Nashville Predators in the 1998 expansion draft, where he ended up playing a bulk of his career.
Alex semin is best known for his time with the Capitals or Hurricanes, but his NHL tenure wrapped up with the Canadiens in 2015. In June of 2015, he was bought out by the Hurricanes from his massive five-year, $35 million contract, and less than a month later, was signed to a one-year deal by the Montreal Canadiens. He suited up for 15 games, scoring one goal and three points before he was put on waivers. After refusing to be sent to the AHL, the Habs terminated his contract and Semin returned to his native Russia, where he is still playing to this day.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: russianmachineneverbreaks.com