Do The Montreal Canadiens Need Quebecers On The Team?
Any casual sports fan would think that Montreal's hockey team is named the Canadiens because they are Canada’s team, or that they have fans all across Canada. To be honest, only the last statement is true.
Les Habitants have always spelled Canadiens with an ‘E’ , so maybe that should give some the idea that the team itself doesn’t represent all of Canada. For now, the team represents all of Quebec, whether it be English or French, Catholic or Jewish. I say for now, because even the most die hard fan of the Habs cannot wait for the return of the Quebec Nordiques.
So understanding that the Montreal Canadiens are as part of Quebec’s history just as much as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, you would think that the roster would be littered with Quebecers.
I have had this discussion many times with hockey writers, sports fans, colleagues and even my Father when he was alive. Should the Canadiens roster be made up of mostly Quebecers? Do the Habs need Quebecers to be a successful franchise and win the Stanley Cup?
Let’s first look at this question strictly by the numbers, Moneyball Billy Beane style. Any Habs fan would say that the past 15 years have been a disappointment, a black eye on the framchise's otherwise successful history.
The 1986 Stanley Cup winning team had ten Quebecers on the team:
- Guy Carbonneau
- Lucien DeBlois
- Serge Boisvert
- Mario Tremblay
- Claude Lemieux
- Sergio Momesso
- Stephane Richer
- Gaston Gingras
- Patrick Roy
- Steve Penney
The roster for the Stanley Cup winning team of 1993 had fourteen Quebecers on the team:
- Vincent Damphousse
- Stephan Lebeau
- Denis Savard
- Gilbert Dionne
- Eric Desjardins
- Patrice Brisebois
- Benoit Brunet
- J.J. Daigneault
- Guy Carbonneau
- Mario Roberge
- Jesse Belanger
- Donald Dufresne
- Patrick Roy
- Andre Racicot
Looking at both sets of players you can easily see the contributions most made to the winning sides. Quebecers were the heart and soul of the team from Conn Smythe winners to Captains to game winning goalscorers.
The roster for the Montreal Canadiens as of September 8, 2011, only showing Quebecers:
- Mathieu Darche
- David Desharnais
Darche is a fourth line player who has become a fan favourite gritty play and the path he followed to make it into the league. Desharnais is only now enterting his first full year with the tea. While important cogs for team, neither of these players will be stars, nor the reason for the team's success.
Looking at what the Habs have in the developemtn system, you can only count eight Quebecers. Let us now look at the past ten drafts and see how many Quebecers the Montreal Canadiens brass have selected:
4th round – Oliver Archambault
2010 draft – none
5th round – Gabriel Dumont
2008 draft – none
3rd round – Olivier Fortier
2nd round – Mathieu Carle
7th round – Phillipe Paquet
9th round – Alex Dulac-Lemelin
8th round Jimmy Bonneau
Only four are still in the organization. Only one, Louis Leblanc, has a chance to make the team this year and make an impression for years to come. Only Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre made significant contributions to Habs in years past.
On the other side of the coin, how many Quebecers were on Stanley Cup winning teams in the past ten years?
- 2011 – Boston Bruins – 2 (excluding Marc Savard)
- 2010 – Chicago Blackhawks – none
- 2009 – Pittsburgh Penguins – 6
- 2008 – Detroit Red Wings – none
- 2007 – Anaheim Ducks – 2
- 2006 – Carolina Hurricanes – none
- 2005 – No cup winner due to lockout
- 2004 – Tampa Bay Lightning – 3
- 2003 – New Jersey Devils – 2
- 2002 – Detroit Red Wings – 1
It doesn’t seem like the teams needed a majority of their roster to be from Quebec, if they needed any. Yes, the Penguins, Lightning and Devils had Quebecers play important roles. The teams wouldn’t have won the cup if it wasn’t for Marc-Andre Fleury, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier or Martin Broduer. So maybe the way to go is just to try and grab the Quebecers that are stars in the league.
Let’s look at last year statistics and see if there are any star Quebecers:
- Martin St. Louis ranked 2nd the league
- Mike Ribeiro 21st
- Alex Tanguay 25th
- Danny Briere 27th
Goals – only two in the top 30
- Danny Briere 9th
- Martin St. Louis 27th
Goaltenders - only three in the top half of any statistical category
- Roberto Luongo
- Marc-Andre Fleury
- Corey Crawford
I guess there aren’t that many Quebecers that are stars in the league. You could probably even count the true all-stars on one hand.
When the Montreal Canadiens won the cup, the majority of their players were home grown. Those players played a major hand in winning these cups. Since 1993, the Habs have not had the success that the organization, the city, or the fans expect. Since 2002, the Habs have moved away from Quebec-born players, but the teams that did win the cup did not need Quebecers to win the cup either. The teams that did have Quebecers only had stars, game changers or goaltenders. Last year, Quebecers did not make a significant dent in any of the major statistical categories.
After viewing these facts one would conclude that you do not need Quebecers on your team to be successful. Those in the Canadiens' organization should be able to understand this.
But looking at the past two Hab cup victories, as well as the victories of the past, it was Quebecers that made the difference, that formed the heart and soul of the team. It was Quebecers that made the Habs who they are.
So, what do I think after going throught with the research for this article and looking at the facts? The Montreal Canadiens need Quebecers on the team to win the Stanley Cup, plain and simple. I need and want the team to be full of Quebecers and only that way will I feel that they have a legitimate chance of winning the Cup.
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