All-Time Habs-Leafs Roster

Original six. Red versus blue. French versus English. Quebec versus Ontario. City of Montreal versus City of Toronto. The team with most Stanley Cups versus the team with the second most. The two biggest fan bases in the National Hockey League, possibly in the world. One of the biggest and longest rivalries in North American pro-sports’ history: The Montreal Canadiens versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Frank Mahovlich versus Frank Mahovlich. Wait… what?!?

Oh yes, the “Big M” did suit up for both teams, but he’s not alone. Just recently, seeing Tie Domi wearing a Habs’ jersey is something that no one would ever find possible, even less see it happening… at least not until his son Max Domi left the Arizona desert to join one of the league’s true hot beds, in Montreal. And yes, at the displeasure of most Leafs’ fans, Tie did just that. He recently stepped on the Bell Centre’s ice in Montreal wearing not only his son’s number 13 Habs’ jersey, but he was dressed up in full Habs’ gear. And guess what? He was having fun!

Seeing this gave me an idea. Several players, over the years, have worn both the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs’ jersey in their career. So I decided to dig a little bit deeper, do some research to see which players had to change allegiance, playing for the team that they used to hate. And if you talk to Tomas Plekanec, it’s not something that’s easy to do. Even Josh Gorges, when asked to waive his no-trade clause to go to the Leafs, refused to do so, prefering to accept a trade to the Buffalo Sabres instead!

Since anyone can put together a list without much thought, I have chosen to create a roster with a line-up. Those are all players who have worn both the Red-White-Blue and the White-Blue at some point in their career. For this exercise, you will notice that I had to move a few centres to the wing but they were, in my opinion, better than those whom I have cut. Without further ado, here’s your Maple Habs All-Star team:

Shayne Corson – Frank Mahovlich – Gary Leeman
Lucien Deblois – Vincent Damphousse – Russ Courtnall
Darcy Tucker – Doug Gilmour – Mikhail Grabovski
Yanic Perreault – Kirk Muller – Tomas Plekanec

Rob Ramage – Dickie Moore
Mathieu Schneider – Tom Kurvers
Hal Gill – Gaston Gingras

Jacques Plante
George Hainsworth

Granted, some of them joined the other team while towards the end of their career but I looked at the names at their peak, not at the time of wearing one jersey or the other. And finally, the other players to wear both uniforms:

Rick WamsleyMike KomisarekCesare ManiagoCharlie Sands
Sergei BerezinMichel LarocqueMarc ReaumeErwin Chamberlain
Ric NattressRobert PicardDick GambleRobert Heron
Sylvain LefebvreDan DaoustNoel PriceGordie Drillon
Paul DipietroJeff BrubakerBill SutherlandRhys Thomson
Scott ThorntonSerge BoisvertLarry HillmanPaul Bibeault
Jonas HoglundBill KitchenLarry MickeyVictor Lynn
Gerald DiduckLarry LandonGarry MonahanBob Dawes
Dave MansonBill RootWayne ThomasJohn McCormack
Darryl ShannonCraig LaughlinGeorge PattersonPaul Masnick
Jyrki LummeGilles ThibaudeauBert McCaffreyGary Edmunson
Chad KilgerEddie LitzenbergerLorne ChabotRoger Jenkins
Mariusz Czerkawski

While the Boston Bruins have certainly sneaked their way in as a huge rival to both these teams, there’s no denying that the Canadiens and Maple Leafs rivalry is still alive and well and with both teams starting to get competitive at the same time, it won’t take much to reignite a fire that’s been smoltering below surface for too long.

And last but not least, I leave you with this classic story from Roch Carrier. No, can you imagine a playoffs’ series between the two teams? It would be insane! Go Habs Go!

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NHL 32 Teams Revamp

With the announcement that the National Hockey will finally welcome Seattle into its folds – a much overdue addition – the league will finally have two balanced Conferences with 16 teams in each one. The Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association won the Cup in 1917, beating the National Hockey Association’s Montreal Canadiens. The NHL was founded later that year. Time will tell if the ownership group will chose to build on the City’s hockey history or not but either way, it will generate excitement in the Pacific Northwest.

And with the expansion, what better time for the NHL to revamp and balance its schedule to make the league more equitable for everyone? Since the arrival of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the odds of making the playoffs have been higher in the West than in the East, with one fewer team not making it to the Stanley Cup rounds. It’s also very difficult to balance a schedule with an uneven number of teams, let’s admit.

Regular Season

While I’m sure some NHL executives would go along with that plan, many others would be totally against it… for revenue purposes, but here is what I would personally love to see. So regardless of the naysayers, hear me out on this one.

First thing’s first: get rid of the divisions. Back in the days when you had 4-5 teams per division, there might have been some benefit of having divisions, in order to create some rivalries. But with eight teams per division, it’s not the case so much. Rivalries in today’s NHL are built in the playoffs. So you go with two Conferences, no divisions. So far so good?

Each team would play two (2) games against each team of the other Conference. One at home, one away, as they are currently doing. This allows for fans to get the opportunity to see each and every team in the league at least once. So two games against 16 teams would result in 32 games played.

On the current 82 games schedule format, this would leave 50 games to play within your own conference… but for any given team, there are 15 other teams in their Conference. It takes no mathematician to figure out that you 50 doesn’t divide equally by 15 so by keeping the number of games as it stands, it would create some complications.

If the NHL wanted teams to play 4 (4) games against each conference rivals (2 home, 2 away) it would total 60 games (4×15). Add the 32 against the other Conference and you have a 92 games schedule. That’s not going to happen. The season is already too long and the NHLPA would never go for that… and rightfully so.

Now if they play three (3) games against each team in their own Conference, it represents 45 games (3×15). Add the 32 extra-Conference games and you would have a 77 games schedule. Ideally, this a more feasible solution and it would allow room to squeeze in the World Cup and the Olympics, each one every alternating 4 years. This means that every two years, there would be an international tournament within the NHL season. The only imperfection is that teams would be playing two home games and one away, and vice-versa, against any given team within their Conference.

But wait… a 77 games schedule? That’s five games (82-77=5) where owners are losing revenue. They’re definitely not going to go for that, right? So in order to satisfy that revenue loss by the owners, what if we were to cut their biggest expense? What if we clawed back the players’ salaries and the salary cap by six percent (6%), which is the equivalent of 5 games over 82?

Playoffs

The NHL season is long and grueling. Why not make it mean something – or at least more than what it means under the current format – by rewarding the players for their hard work? The best teams in the regular season should have a clearly defined advantage and mostly, not be penalized for being in a tougher division! The playoffs’ format as it stands today makes no sense to both NHL teams and their fans. The playoffs should be sorted by Conference and the higher you finish in the standings, the weaker your opponent should be (on paper) based on the regular season.

Eastern Standings Feb.7/19

Not accounting for travel, the ideal format would be to ignore Conferences and go with the old 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, 3 vs 14, etc, and allowing for a chance to see an Edmonton vs Calgary, Los Angeles vs Anaheim, Philadelphia vs Pittsburgh, Montreal vs Toronto Stanley Cup finals. But due to unfair travel time and costs, that’s not going to pass with neither the Board of Governors or the NHLPA. So the next best thing to do is to go with the overall Conference standings. First place in the Conference faces the eight place team, 2nd vs 7th, 3rd vs 6th, 4th vs 5th. For subsequent rounds, reseed the teams based on the regular season.

Shutout the shootout

Can we please finally get rid of this shootout gimmick?!? It should have never been there to start with. You don’t see the NFL decide games with quarterbacks throwing footballs through hoops, MLB with a homerun competition or the NBA with free throws. If teams are tied after 60 minutes, play five minutes at 4 on 4. If they are still tied, then play five minutes at 3 on 3. If still tied after 70 minutes, it’s a well deserved tie game by both teams.

I did some research in the BCHL a couple of years ago and over a period of six years, only 2% of all games ended in a tie game. I have attended games ending in a tie and with this format of OT, everyone was happy, including the fans. The OT is spectacular and extremely entertaining and that, even if you had the most boring first 60 minutes. Assuming the same ratio, this would mean 25 games in the NHL would result in a tie on an 82-game season.

Last but not least, lose the loser point. Winning team gets two (2) points, whether it’s in regulation or overtime. The losing team gets nothing, they have lost game! No room for consolation prize here, it’s professional sports. Now if teams are still tied after the second OT, the game ends in a tie and each team gets one (1) well deserved point.

The league has made some good choices, but some pretty bad ones too in recent years when it comes to the tradition of hockey, with the Instigator rule change being the biggest mistake. It’s time to give the game back to the fans, give them what THEY want. Afterall, we know that Gary Bettman will lockout the players again soon, as he’s done every time.