Rabid Habs

Top 25 All-Time Habs Goalies

Patrick Roy Credit: canadiens.com

Top 25 All-Time Habs Goalies

The goalie is arguably the most important position in hockey. A team can be a scoring juggernaut, but if their goalie can’t stop the puck they won’t win many games. Here are my choices for the top 25 all-time Habs goalies.

1.Georges Vezina – Chicoutimi, Quebec

When you have a trophy named after you, you know you’ve done something right. Georges Vezina is the first goalie in Canadiens franchise history to win a championship for the Habs (1916 in the NHA and 1924 for the Stanley Cup). It should be noted that the NHL took over for the NHA in November 1917. Vezina recorded the first ever NHL shutout February 18, 1918, defeating Toronto 9-0. The following season he and the Habs played the Seattle Metropolitans for the 1919 Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup Final was cancelled with the series tied 2-2 and would be one of only 2 times the Cup was not rewarded. Of course the other season that occurred was 2004-05, which was wiped out due to a labour dispute. Sadly, Vezina’s career ended prematurely during the 1925-26 season. He came into training camp very ill that year. In what would prove to be his final game of his career on November 28, he played the 1st period despite a very high 103oF fever and vomiting blood. Prior to the start of the 2nd period Vezina collapsed and was forced to leave the ice. Even back then hockey players were as tough as nails. The next day Vezina was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He was told by team doctors to return home to recover, which he did after saying a final goodbye to teammates on December 3. Georges Vezina passed away March 27, 1926. His career numbers were excellent even by today’s standards. In 190 regular season NHL games he posted a 103-85-5 record with 13 shutouts. He had a career GAA of 3.28. In the playoffs he was even more lights out sporting a 17-8-2 record with 4 shutouts and 2.78GAA. In seven seasons Vezina had the lowest GAA in the league and the second lowest GAA in 5 other seasons What made his career numbers even more remarkable was until 1918, the NHL had a rule where goalies could not leave their feet to make a save. Vezina was also very popular among his teammates and in the community.

2. George Hainsworth – Toronto, Ontario

George Hainsworth won the inaugural Vezina trophy after allowing the fewest number of goals in the NHL. In fact, he won the first three Vezina trophies (1927-1929). Hainsworth holds two current NHL records: best statistical season (22 shuouts and a 0.92GAA in just 44 games) and longest playoff shutout streak (270 minutes and 8 seconds). He won back-to back Stanley Cups with the Habs in 1930 and 1931. Hainsworth was traded to the Maple Leafs in 1933 for Quebec native Lorne Chabot.

3. Jacques Plante – Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel, Quebec

Jacques Plante’s claim to fame was being the first goalie to wear a mask. He was also the first goalie to regularly play the puck outside his crease. This really opened up the offense for the Habs on a counterattack. Plante played a decade for the Canadiens winning six Stanley Cups, including five straight from 1956-60. His five Vezina trophies came over the same period as the four straight Cups. This demonstrates his importance to the Canadiens success at that time. An interesting fact about Plante is he played hockey with asthma. Unfortunately over the years, Plante suffered several significant injuries, including one to his knee.  Additionally, his relationship with coach Toe Blake deteriorated due to inconsistent work ethic and a poor demeanor. Eventually he was dealt to the New York Rangers in a multi-player deal that included Gump Worsley after the Canadiens were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year. In the regular season, Plante had a record of 309-134-107 in 550 games.

4. Ken Dryden – Hamilton, Ontario

Ken Dryden won six Stanley cups while with the Habs. Remarkably, he pursued a law degree while playing hockey. Dryden won the Rookie of the Year trophy in 1971 in what was technically his second year because in 1970 he played onlysix regular season games. Dryden skipped the 1973-74 season due to a contract dispute. He finished his career with a 258-46-66 record. He won the Vezina 5 time (1973, 1976-79, was a five time all-star (1972. 1975-79), was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983, and his #29 jersey was retired by the Habs in 2007.

5. Gump Worsley – Montreal, Quebec

Gump Worsley was acquired by Montreal in the 1963 offseason  after he attempted to start a player’s union. Worsley played with the Habs from 1963-69. He also ended his time, like Patrick Roy, badly. Worsley quit the team after he refused a demotion to the minors. The team responded by suspending him. Worsley retired, but came out of retirement the same year to play for Minnesota. He won the Vezina twice with the Canadiens (1966 and 1968) and he won four Stanley Cups while with the Habs (1965-66 and 1968-69). Worsley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980.

6. Bill Durnan – Toronto, Ontario

Bill Durnan’s claim to fame was being the reason why the NHL banned goalies from being team captain. Durnan served as the Habs captain for the 1947-48 season. He irked the league by leaving his crease to complain about calls ad nauseum. Durnan was the first goalie to win the Vezine 4 straight seasons (1944-47). He would also win the Vezina in 1949 and 1950. Durnan sported a career regular season record of 208-112-60 in 380 games. He won 2 Stanley Cups (1944 and 1946) and was inducted into the hockey hall of fame in 1964. In 1998 Durnan was ranked 34th on The Hockey News’ list of greatest hockey players all-time.

7. Gerry McNeil – Quebec City, Quebec

Gerry McNeil signed on with the Habs in 1943 as a 17 year old and practiced with the team when they were in town. McNeil was called up March 1950 from Cincinnati when starter Durnan was hit in the head with a skate blade. Incredibly, McNeil recorded a 1.50 GAA in the six games he played that season. He took over the starting job during the playoffs when Durnan faltered upon his return. McNeil would lead Montreal to the Stanley Cup Final the ensuing for seasons, winning in 1953 with a shutout. Another impressive stat: McNeil played every game from March 1950 – November 1952, which included two 70-game seasons. That would be impossible in today’s NHL with the hectic travel schedule and rigorous demands on the goalie. In the 1951 playoffs McNeil held a dynamite Red Wings team scoreless for 214 straight minutes, including two lengthy OT games. The Red Wings certainly pressed as they forced McNeil to make 38 of his 62 saves in game one in OT. McNeil is the only goalie in NHL history to have been won three Stanley Cup OT games. All three of those games occurred on home ice. McNeil’s regular season record with the Habs was 124-105-20 with 27 shutouts.

8. Carey Price – Anahim Lake, BC

Carey Price is easily in the top ten Canadiens all-time. The past two seasons have been his breakout seasons. Last season he led the league in wins (44), GAA (1.96) and save% (.933). He also led the league in wins in the 2010-11 season with 38. Price is not just fantastic on the ice, but off it as well. He gave back to his hometown in 2014, starting two lunch programs in the schools. While Price has not won a Cup, I put him ahead of Roy because he is so good on and off the ice. Also, he has had to be excellent the past two seasons as the Habs have struggled to score.

9. Patrick Roy – Quebec City, Quebec

Patrick Roy will be forever remembered for his tumultuous exit from the Canadiens organization. Four games into the 1995-96 season the Canadiens replaced longtime coach Jacques Lemaire with Mario Tremblay. Roy and Tremblay had a strained history when they roomed together as teammates. Tremblay regularly mocked Roy’s English-speaking abilities at the time. On December 2 Roy had a really bad game at home versus the Red Wings, allowing nine goals on 26 shots and five on 17 in the 1st period. He was mercifully pulled by Tremblay midway through the 2nd period. Roy stormed off the ice and told team president Ronald Corey, who was sitting behind the bench, “It’s my last game in Montreal.” He was suspended by the team the next day and traded to Colorado four days later. Roy would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season and was a finalist for the Vezina trophy. Despite the rocky exit from Montreal, Roy did some great things in a Montreal uniform. For example, he was a big reason why Montreal won the Stanley Cup in 1993. He effectively shut down the greatest player at the time in Wayne Gretzky. In 1986, he led Montreal to a surprise Stanley Cup and became the youngest player to win the Conn Smythe. Roy won the Vezina twice in a Habs uniform (1989 and 1990). He teamed up with backup Brian Hayward to win the William Jennings trophy three consecutive times (1987-89) and won the trophy a fourth time in 1992. Roy’s career record with Montreal in the regular season was 289-175-66 in 530 games. His jersey was retired by the Canadiens in 2008.

10. Michel Larocque – Hull, Quebec

Michel Larocque was a team first player who took a lot of pride in being a back-up goalie. He probably could have been a starter on most teams, but he loyally stuck with Montreal. Larocque was drafted 6th overall by the Habs. He shared the Vezina three times with starter Dryden (1977-79) and once with Sevigny and Denis Herron (1981). Larocque was also a member of four Canadiens Stanley Cup teams (1976, 1977-79). Larocque was traded to Toronto for defenseman Robert Picard near the 1981 trade deadline. In 226 regular season games he finished with a 144-48-34 record in a Habs uniform.

11. Jose Theodore – Laval, Quebec

On January 2, 2001, Jose Theodore became the sixth goalie to to directly score a goal (he scored while attempting to clear the puck vs. the Islanders) and he became the second goalie to be credited with a goal and a shutout in the same game (Damion Rhodes was credited with a goal and shutout January 2, 1999). Theodore had some great games for the Habs, including a 53-save effort in a 4-3 triple OT win vs. NJ. Theodore’s true emergence as a bonafide star came in 2001-02 when he posted a 30-24-11 record with a 2.11GAA and .931 save%. He would win the Vezina and Hart Memorial trophies at season’s end. Theodore made history by participating in the NHL’s first Heritage Classic, wearing a toque over his goalie mask. A low-point for Theodore was a failed drug test at the 2006 Winter Olympics that resulted in a two-year-ban from international play, but brought no punishment from the NHL because Theodore had previously applied for an exemption with the medication he was on at the time. Theodore was traded at the 2006 NHL deadline to Colorado  for David Aebischer when his play dropped off. He finished his time in Montreal with a 144-158-30 record in 332 regular season games.

12. Charlie Hodge – Lachine, Quebec

Charlie Hodge served as the emergency backup to Jacques Plante, playing only when Plante was injured. Hodge won two Vezinas (1964 outright and 1966 shared with Gump Worsley). His name is on the Stanley Cup six times, but he only played in one of those Finals (1 game, a loss to the Red Wings, in 1955). Hodge played 237 regular season games and finished with a record of 119-72-49.

13. Rogatien (Rogie) Vachon – Palmarolle, Quebec

Rogatien Vachon served as Gump Worsley’s backup for the first three seasons, but won the starter’s job after Worsley was traded midway through the 1969-70 season. He lost the starting job to Dryden in 1970 and demanded a trade. Vachon was eventually dealt in a multi-player deal to the LA Kings November 1971. Vachon shared the 1968 Vezina with Worsley. He won the Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1969 and 1971 and finished with a record of 110-56-31 in 197 regular season games.

14. Brian Hayward – Georgetown, Ontario

Brian Hayward was acquired from Winnipeg on August 19, 1986 for Steve Penney and served as Patrick Roy’s backup for the next four seasons. He and Roy shared the William Jennings trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the NHL three consecutive seasons (1987-89). In 141 regular season games he had a 71-48-17 record and four shutouts. He was dealt to Minnesota on November 7, 1990

15. Peter Budaj Banska Bystrica, Czechoslovakia

Peter Budaj was signed by the Habs for two seasons July 1st, 2011. His best season was 2012-13 when he had an 8-1-1 record. He re-signed for another two years in the off-season of 2012 but was unable to replicate his performance in 2012-13. In fact, rookie Dustin Tokarski passed him on the depth chart by season’s end. Budaj and right-winger Patrick Holland were subsequently traded to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for left-winger Eric Tangradi on October 5, 2014. Budaj had a 23-16-9 record with Montreal in 48 regular season games. In two playoff starts Budaj was 0-2 with an astronomical 6.67 GAA and .774 save%

16. Cristobal Huet Saint-Martin-D’Heres, France

Cristobal Huet was acquired in a three-team deal prior to the 2004-05 NHL lockout. He won the starters job over Theodore in 2005-06. Huet won the Molson Cup February 2006 and the NHL defensive player of the week award for the 1st week in March that same season. He was excellent in the playoffs until the third round when he was out dueled by Carolina starter Cam Ward. He re-signed with the Habs for two more years that off-season. He was eventually dealt to Washington for a second round draft pick when Carey Price was deemed the team’s future. Huet had a 58-39-13 record. Note: the 13 designates OT Losses.

17. Richard Sevigny – Montreal, Quebec

A quirky fact about Richard Sevigny is his name is on the Stanley Cup despite never playing a game in the Final. In 1979 starter Michael Larocque, scheduled to play game two, was injured in warm-ups. Because Sevigny dressed as the back-up that night, his name is etched in Lord Stanley’s Cup. Sevigny served as Montreal’s back-up the following four seasons. He was also involved in the infamous Vendredi Saint brawl April 20, 1984. He fought Nordiques backup Clint Malarchuk and received a game misconduct. He finished with a record of 68-42-17 in 127 regular season games.

18. Jocelyn Thibeault – Montreal, Quebec

Jocelyn Thibault was acquired in the trade that sent Roy to Colorado. He played 2.5 seasons with the Habs until being traded to Chicago for Jeff Hackett in a multi-player deal. Thibault had a 67-57-24 record in 148 regular season games. He helped Montreal win one playoff round in 1996.

19. Steve Penney Sainte-Foy, Quebec

Steve Penney was a backup goalie to Richard Sevigny and Patrick Roy. His career was cut short to a shoulder injury. Penney’s name was left off the Stanley Cup in 1986 due playing only 18 games because of his bad shoulder. He should have qualified for an injury exemption. In 74 regular season games he was 32-30-12 with 1 shutout

20. Andy Moog – Penticton, BC

Andy Moog was a pain in the butt for Montreal. He helped eliminate the Habs from the playoffs four times (three with the Oilers and once with the Bruins) before playing his final season in Montreal. In 1998, Moog helped the Canadiens win their first playoff series since their 1993 Stanley Cup win. He finished the regular season with a 18-17-5 record in 42 games with a 2.49GAA and .905save%.

21. Jeff Hackett London, Ontario

Jeff Hackett was acquired by Montreal in a muti-player deal in November 1998. He was a fan favorite that year, recording career highs in games played (63) and wins (26). Unfortunately a serious shoulder injury limited Hackett to a mere 15 games the following season and 18 games the season after that. He was then outplayed by and lost the starting job to Theodore. He was subsequently dealt back to San Jose (the team who drafted him) in a three-player-deal. Hackett’s record with Montreal was 62-68-22 in 152 regular season games.

22. Wilf Cude Barry, Wales, Great Britain

Wilf Cude was acquired by the defunct Philadelphia Quakers. After being loaned to Detroit for the 1933-34 season and leading the Red Wings to the Cup Finals, the Canadiens traded starter Lorne Chabot and made Cude the starter through 1937-38. Unfortunately, the Habs never won the Stanley Cup those seasons. He was relegated to backup the following three seasons. Cude retired after the 1940-41 season. In 220 regular season games he had a record of 82-101-38 with 20 shutouts.

23. Claude Bourque – Oxford, Nova Scotia

Claude Bourque was the Habs starter for the 1938-39 and 1939-40 seasons. In 61 regular season games he had a 16-37-8 record with 5 shutouts.

24. Frederic Chabot – Hebertville-Station, Quebec

Frederic Chabot was a backup goalie for the Habs in 1990-91, 1993-94 and 1998-99. In five starts he had a 1-3-1 record. He also appeared in 10 other games in which he was not the goalie of record

 25. Joseph Cattarinch – Levis, Quebec

Joseph Cattarinch was the Habs first ever goalie. He played a single season (1910-11) and would retire after being shutout by Vezina’s amateur team. He then recommended the Canadiens sign Vezina. At the time Cattarinch played, as a rule, teams only carried one goalie.



  1. Nicolas

    August 28, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    where is Halak?

  2. Chris

    August 28, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Chabot? Budaj better than Hackett? Roy number 8? This list was ill conceived.

  3. Jeff

    August 28, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    And Tremblay replaced Demers, not Lemaire

  4. Norm Noel

    August 28, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Price ahead of Roy? What a JOKE.

  5. Pingback: Les 25 gardiens les plus marquants de l’histoire du Canadien – 1ère partie

  6. Pingback: Les 25 gardiens les plus marquants de l’histoire du Canadien – 2e partie