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12-10-2008, 10:52 PM
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#1) Saku Koivu.

This one is easy. During that stretch he's easily been the teams best player year in and year out. He's easily been the biggest leader in that stretch. He's one of two Canadiens to win a league trophy. He's represented them in All-Star games, and he was named the teams captain, a title he will soon hold for longer then anyone else in franchise history. To the people that don't have Koivu on the top of their lists, I have to ask, how is it possible you think somebody could have contributed more?

#2) Jose Theodore.

Again, this one is pretty easy. He won the league MVP trophy. He's one of only a handful of goaltenders to win the honor. Obviously he bagged the Vezina too. He truly had a magical season for the Canadiens. And the picture of him wearing the toque with his breath clearly visible in the crisp air during the Heritage Classic is truly an iconic photo. That will be a photo still printed 50 Years from now in coffee table books.

#3) Andrei Markov

The best defenseman for the Canadiens during that era with really no competition worth mentioning. As a player, he's not only worked hard and continued to develop into a truly elite defenseman, but he's also shown loyalty to the organization and signed a deal at less then market value, a gesture that has helped his team have the room do make moves like acquiring Alex Tanguay at a discount when the Flames wanted to shed salary.

#4) Vincent Damphousse

Nobody in this stretch can boast two seasons of 80+ points. Damphousse can. Vinnie also wore the 'C' for the organization and spent a couple of seasons where he was the team's best player. Talent-wise, there haven't been many players in so-called "Dark Years" that can measure up with Damphousse.

#5) Mark Recchi

Mark Recchi was a terrific player for the Montreal Canadiens. He was a pure offensive talent that put up very consistent numbers for the Habs. You could pencil Recchi in for 75 points, count on some hustle and passion and a a guarantee that you had a guy that was going to thrive in the playoffs. In 21 playoff games as a Montreal Canadien, Recchi posted 24 points. That's an incredible points-per-game ratio for the playoffs. It was a shame when he left, but he couldn't be blamed for wanting to play elsewhere. There wasn't a lot of team around him.

#6) Alex Kovalev

Kovalev's acquisition, a trade that caught many by surprise, was a turning point for the franchise and is key factor and the team being where it is today. That trade, after years of Canadiens fans watching the likes of Recchi, Damphousse and Malakhov shipped out to go to a "contender" at the deadline, signaled the reverse. The Canadiens were going out and picking up a big-name player as a playoff boost. In the dressing room, the message was clear, management believes in us. After a solid playoff performance, Kovalev rejected a return to Pittsburgh to stay with the Canadiens as a free agent. No player of his profile had choosen to join the Canadiens before. That sent a message around the league that Montreal was an option for free agency when really, that wasn't the case before. Last season, when the team got it's swagger back for the first time since the early 90's, the player leading that transformation was Kovalev.

#7) Vladimir Malakhov

I'm stunned to see Malakhov absent from so many lists. I think Malakhov is the most talented defenseman the Canadiens have had in this era. Yes, better then Markov. His blend of size, agility, passing and shooting ability and skating is a scouts wet dream. Unfortunately, he so rarely was able to put the package together and play to his abilities, but when he did he was truly fantastic. Million dollar skillset, ten cent head. But talented like few others.

#8) Patrice Brisebois

Way too many haters here to give this guy the respect he deserves. Over this stretch of hockey, Brisebois was their best defenseman for several of those seasons. That's probably a good chunk of the reason why this era is dubbed "The Dark Years" but the statement is still true nonetheless. During this era, Brisebois led defenseman in scoring four times and had seven 30+ point seasons. In terms of games played on defense over this time, he has few, if any, peers.

#9) Michael Ryder

Ryder was a feel-good story for the fans, a rags to riches prospect who started to turn heads at a training camp when he really wasn't even on the radar. To beat the odds, make the team then post back-to-back 30-goal seasons was pretty special. For years, the Canadiens struggled to find a player that could line up with Saku Koivu and take advantage of his ability to create offense. For two seasons, Ryder was a pleasant surprise who did just that.

#10) Sheldon Souray

Perhaps the only clear win for Reggie Houle as a GM was the deal that sent Vladimir Malakhov - who'd worn out his welcome and had an expiring contract - to the Devils for Sheldon Souray and Josh DeWolf. Souray - who at the time projected as more of a defensive-defenseman - soon harnessed his shooting ability and evolved into a deadly power play specialist. Souray also played a style that delivered crowd-pleasing hits - or memorable defensive gaffes. When he delivered, it was like few other blueliners have for the Canadiens in that stretch. Versus the Penguins in 2003-04, Souray put up six points in a game. In 06-07 he scored 26 goals - from the blueline - and posted 64 points. That total was not just the highest for a Canadiens blueliner since Chris Chelios, it was also enough to have been the leading scorer on the team in multiple seasons during the low-scoring "Dark Ages."

Last edited by FerrisRox: 12-11-2008 at 08:37 PM.
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