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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The DOMInator

DOMInator

One day, your career is going nowhere. You’re playing hockey in a market where you might see a reporter at a practice, or maybe not. You’re packing your stuff to go to the rink wearing shorts and a t-shirt. You’re making plans to have a BBQ on Sunday by the pool… in the midst of hockey season. Whether you score a goal or drag your feet, only your employer notices and even then, looking at the Arizona Coyotes’ track record since relocating from Winnipeg, it’s like even they don’t care. Then you get a phone call: “We have traded you to the highest pressured hockey market in the word… Montreal.”

For some, they would crack under pressure, particularly after two underwhelming seasons. For others, like Max Domi, it’s a blessing. Growing up around the NHL watching his legendary father Tie, little Max knows what hockey markets are all about. After all, Toronto is very much like Montreal in that aspect. As a matter of fact, since his number 16 is retired by the Canadiens in honor of the great Henri Richard, Domi picked number 13 in honor of his favourite player: Mats Sundin.

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Max and “Uncle Mats”

“That’s 100% why I’m wearing #13. It’s a little bit weird to see 13 with the last name Domi on the back of a Habs jersey. But I don’t really care, I think it looks great. It’s a great number. I wore it my whole childhood.” ~ Max Domi

While it may have felt weird for a little while, seeing number 13 with the name “Domi” in the back on a Habs’ uniform is now sinking in nicely in Montreal. Back in June, I was telling you that it wouldn’t be long before Max would become a fan favourite and guess what? He already is. But why is that? When the trade was announced, there was yet another outpoor of negative comments from reporters and fans alike. Granted, many were the same who still can’t get over the P.K. Subban for Shea Weber trade, but still. DomiReactions

Then, when Domi sucker-punched Aaron Ekblad and was suspended for the rest of pres-season, those same “fans” were all over him (and the organisation). It’s what I like to refer to as the Montreal Chicken Little Syndrome. Everything happening around the Habs is overblown, whether it be positive or, more often than not, negative.

Yet, Domi did bring a new ATTITUDE. As fans are now noticing, Marc Bergevin knew exactly what he was doing. He brought in a Brendan Gallagher – who ironically is now best friend with Max – but with even more skills. He did not sacrifice talent for work ethics. He went out and got talent WITH work ethics.

“I haven’t been able to stop smiling the whole time. Some people might not want to play in a market like this, other people might want to, other people might not care. I definitely am truly excited to be here and I want to be here, and I’m hoping that this brings out the best in me. and, you know what, excited to step into a team that’s got a lot of great hockey players on it already.” ~ Max Domi

Max Domi has arguably been the Canadiens’ best and most consistent performer since the start of the season. After 13 games so far this season, he leads the team in points (7 goals, 13 points) and unlike Alex Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin, he has stepped into the centre position flawlessly.

Domi is a quality individual, a quality player, who was suffocating in an organisation with no directions, in a market that didn’t care about hockey. He now finds himself in a market with pressure and he is responding beautifully. Oh there will be hiccups folks, rest assured. But you have guys who will succumb to pressure and others, like him, like Gallagher, like Shaw, who have a reputation of using that pressure to up the ante, their game. And he’s only 23 years old.

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Tie sporting Habs attire

And just to stick it to Leafs’ fans, here’s a quote that will sure sting more than one, when Tie discussed how it feels to see his son play for the Habs. Go Habs Go!

“It was actually emotional because I was happy for him — original six. It’s a historical franchise. I grew up idolizing Guy Lafleur and the Montreal Canadiens and the winning tradition. I played for Toronto, but Montreal was always my team as a kid, and Guy was always my favourite player.” ~ Tie Domi