Serge Savard had a lengthy and successful playing career with the Montreal Canadiens that saw him win seven Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe, and make the Hall of Fame. But Savard’s contributions to the Canadiens don’t stop there. He was also the GM of the Canadiens from 1983-84 all the way to 1995.
Savard had the tall task of inheriting a Canadiens squad well removed from the dynasty years Savard was a player for. But the expectations were still high, as the Canadiens fans were used to success, already having 22 Stanley Cups to show for it. This meant Savard had the tall task of building a winner in the midst of both the Islanders and Oilers building a dynasty of their own.
With several stars now gone, the Canadiens needed to rely on newer, fresh faces to lead them to success. Some veterans were still around, like Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey, and Guy Lafleur (although he was on his way out), but if the Canadiens were going to be successful, they needed new stars.
And it wasn’t too long into Savard’s tenure that he delivered, as the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1986, their 23rd in franchise history. The Habs certainly leaned on some vets, Like Larry Robinson, who had a resurgence in what was ultimately one of his best seasons. But several rookies stepped up in a big way, like Claude Lemieux and, of course, Patrick Roy.
Roy was drafted in 1984, Savard’s first as GM, and would ultimately be one of the best picks in franchise history. There’s no doubt Savard owes a lot of success as GM to Roy and the scouts that helped him make that selection. But other players along the way helped contribute as well.
The Canadiens remained competitive throughout the rest of the 80s, including making another Stanley Cup final before ultimately losing to Calgary in 1989. But in 1993, the Canadiens once again reached the NHL’s summit, winning their 24th Stanley Cup.
That team was led by Roy but was filled with more Savard acquisitions like Vincent Damphousse, Kirk Muller, and Brian Bellows. The team in 86, well certainly enhanced by Savard, had plenty of players that were there before Savard took over. But 1993’s squad was entirely his and was able to achieve something the Canadiens have unfortunately failed to do since.
As GM of the Canadiens, Savard only missed the playoffs once, in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season. He was fired early into the next season, just before the infamous Patrick Roy trade. His two Stanley Cups are the last the franchise has won. His accomplishments with the organization off the ice don’t quite compare to what he did on it, but he was still an excellent GM for the Habs. And for that reason, he falls at number three on the list.
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