This Week In Canadiens History – April 18th-24th

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: Jose Theodore
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: Jose Theodore /
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Four In A Row

On April 18th 1959, the Montreal Canadiens become the first team in history to win 4 Stanley Cups in a row. To make things sweeter for you Canadiens fans, our warriors in red sweaters beat our ever bitter rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bernard “Boom Boom” Geoffrion would also make history as he scored 2 goals in that final game and thus becoming only the second player in history at the time to score 50 playoff goals.

99 Retires in ’99

It needs to be mentioned even if he never wore a Canadiens jersey, but April 18th, 1999 would be Wayne Gretzky‘s final NHL game.

“The Great One” would retire with 894 goals, 1963 assists and 2857 points, all records. He would win a total of 31 individual trophies, the holder of a plethora of nearly unbreakable records and winner of four Stanley Cups. There’s literally nothing left to say about the legacy that Gretzky left on the game.

However, did you know? Wayne Gretzky almost became a Montreal Canadien had Sam Pollock gotten his way. The legendary general manager who famously acquired the first overall pick a year ahead of the 1971 draft in order to draft Guy Lafleur, tried to replicate a similar coup.

On September 13th, 1976 the Montreal Canadiens would trade Sean Shanahan and Ron Andrews to the Colorado Rockies in return for cash and a swap of 1st round picks in …1980.

At the time of the trade, Wayne Gretzky was 15 years old and starting to garner serious attention in the hockey world. However, the draft eligibility age at the time was 20 years old, making Gretzky eligible for the 1981 draft. Sam Pollock however, was deeply involved in expansion decisions and amateur drafting rules with the NHL since the mid-60’s. One could say he had a crystal ball which luck would have it, the draft age dropped to 19 in 1979.

l'HISTOIRE DE SAM POLLOCK, un grand manitou de génie ! - Canadiens - Grand Club |
l'HISTOIRE DE SAM POLLOCK, un grand manitou de génie ! - Canadiens - Grand Club | /

At the end of the 1979-80 season, Colorado would finish, you guessed it, dead last, giving the Canadiens the 1st overall pick. By then the Oilers would retain Gretzky’s rights as the WHA merged with the NHL so the whole idea became moot.

Sam Pollock had already retired by then and replaced by Irving Grundman who infamously picked Doug Wickenheiser with that 1st overall pick, over a slick speedster from Gatineau named Denis Savard, who would get picked up 2 spots later by the Chicago Blackhawks, after the Winnipeg Jets selected Dave Babych with the number 2 overall pick.

The rest, as they say, is history.