Ranking Every Captain In Montreal Canadiens History
Having been around for over a hundred years, the Montreal Canadiens are the oldest and longest running hockey franchise. From 1909 until 1917, they were part of the National Hockey Association. They then became part of the National Hockey League in 1917 and have been the most successful team in the history of the sport. No other teams have won as many Stanley Cups as the Canadiens. They’ve won a total of 24 Stanley Cups – the first one in 1916 and their last one in 1993.
In their 108 years of existence, the Habs have had a total of 29 team captains, beginning with Jack Laviolette in 1909 to their current captain, Max Pacioretty. Jean Beliveau captained the team for ten seasons and won a total of five Stanley Cups as their leader – the most of any captain in franchise history. In fact, of the 24 Stanley Cups the Canadiens have won, there were eleven different captains who have led the team during those seasons.
They did, however, spend two seasons without a captain. The first time was in 2009-10 after Saku Koivu served as their captain from 1999-2009. The second time was in 2014-15 after Brian Gionta spent four years as their captain from 2010-2014.
Let’s take a look at all 29 captains in the history of the Montreal Canadiens.
- Mike Keane
Mike Keane spent eight seasons with the Canadiens from 1988 to 1996. The 6 foot tall, 185 pound right winger wasn’t overly impressive on the score sheet with just 269 points in 506 regular season games. In 77 playoff games, he recorded 34 points.
When then-captain Kirk Muller was traded in April 1995, Mike Keane became Montreal’s new captain for the remainder of the 1994-95 season. He then began the 1995-96 season as their captain until getting traded that December to the Colorado Avalanche. At that point, Pierre Turgeon took over the duties as team captain.
Keane helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup in 1993. Interestingly enough, he won a total of three Stanley Cups in his NHL career with three different teams – 1993 with Montreal, 1996 with Colorado, and 1999 with Dallas.
- Walter Buswell
Walter Buswell played five seasons with the Canadiens from 1935-1940 and captained the team in his final season with them (1939-40). The 5’11, 170 pound defenseman recorded 37 points in 228 regular season games. He also appeared in 11 playoff games and tallied 2 goals.
Buswell’s year as captain wasn’t a very successful one. Although they started off really well with four wins and two ties in their first six games, their hot streak didn’t last. They even had a nine-game losing streak from December 16th until January 6th. As a matter of fact, the Canadiens only won three games from December 16, 1939 to March 17, 1940. Needless to say, the Habs finished in last place that season and failed to make the playoffs.
Although his time as captain wasn’t a very good one, Buswell was a decent and reliable defenseman with the Canadiens.
- Billy Coutu
Billy Coutu spent nine seasons with the Montreal Canadiens between 1916-17 and 1925-26. He also served as captain of the team during his last season with them.
This 5’11, 190 pound defenseman definitely wasn’t afraid to defend his territory. During his time with the Habs, he accumulated a total of 357 penalty minutes in 198 regular season games. He led the team with 67 penalty minutes in the 1919-20 season.
He wasn’t a big point producing defenseman, having recorded just 40 points in his 198 regular season games. He also appeared in 17 playoff games, earning just one assist and racking up 81 penalty minutes. He helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup in 1924.
Coutu was never inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he will always be remembered to Canadiens fans as being one of the most feared defensemen of his time.
- Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios played seven seasons with the Montreal Canadiens from 1983 to 1990. The 6’1, 191 pound defenseman was also a great point producer, racking up 309 points in 402 regular season games with the Habs. He also appeared in 98 playoff games with them, earning 68 points.
He led all Canadiens defensemen in points during three seasons: 64 points in 1984-85, 61 points in 1987-88, and 73 points in 1988-89.
During the 1989-90 season, Chris Chelios and Guy Carbonneau became the first co-captains in franchise history. Chelios helped the Habs win the Stanley Cup in 1986. He was then awarded the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 1989 as the best defenseman in the league.
Chelios was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.
- Jimmy Gardner
Jimmy Gardner only played two seasons with the Montreal Canadiens from 1913 to 1915, but during that time he served as both their head coach and team captain. During those two seasons, the 5’9, 180 pound left winger played a total of 17 regular season games with the Habs and averaged over a point a game with 19 points.
In Gardner’s first season as the Canadiens’ coach and captain, they had a great season, finishing tied for first place overall with the Toronto Blueshirts. They ended up having to play each other determine who would win the O’Brien Cup which was given to the champions of the National Hockey Association. In the two-game playoff series, the Blueshirts defeated the Canadiens by outscoring them 6 goals to 2.
In Gardner’s second and final season with Montreal, they finished the regular season in last place, failing to appear in the playoffs. That was the last time we saw him in a Habs jersey.
Jimmy Gardner was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.
- Kirk Muller
Kirk Muller only played four seasons with the Canadiens from 1991 to 1995. He did, however, serve less than one season as their captain. He began the 1994-95 season as their captain until he was traded in April of 1995. Mike Keane then took over as captain.
At 6 feet tall and 205 pounds, Muller was a left winger who put up very impressive numbers with 247 points in 267 regular season games. During the 1991-92 regular season, he led the team in goals (36) and points (77). He also played in a total of 38 playoff games and recorded 32 points.
His most successful season with the Canadiens was in 1992-93 when he averaged over a point a game with 94 points in 80 regular season games. Also that season, he helped his team win their 24th and final Stanley Cup in 1993.
Muller is currently working as an associate coach for the Canadiens.