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11-29-2009, 04:10 PM
  #22
Sturminator
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
1. Was Tremblay really the #1 defenseman on the 60s Habs? They had a guy named Jacques Laperriere who received more Norris and All Star consideration and who is in the Hall of Fame. I had been under the impression that Tremblay and Lapperriere collectively filled the #1 defenseman role that the Habs had been missing since Harvey left - Tremblay more on the offensive side, Laperriere more on the defensive side.
Good that you bring up Laperriere, as that leads me to my next point: Tremblay's playoff record. By the way, I know that you just threw out that bit about "there was a guy named Jacques Laperriere", but go easy on the condescension, especially when you know the words, but not the music. Laperriere was the Habs' #1 defenseman only briefly - over the span of his sadly short athletic peak before injuries took their toll - and his peak barely overlapped with Tremblay's in reality. Looking at their careers from a great distance like you are doing obscures what was actually going on in Montreal during that period. I'll walk us through it.

63-64: Laperriere breaks out in his first year as a full time player in the NHL, surpassing Tremblay (who is three years older) and finishing 4th in Norris voting. He is a great two-way player almost immediately (in contrast to the pure defensive-defenseman he'd later become), and quickly takes over 1st unit powerplay duties next to Tremblay, who has been to this point a disappointment in Montreal. The Habs are eliminated in the playoffs by a Toronto team that plays a suffocating defensive system that would probably be labeled "the trap" by modern commentators.

64-65: Laperriere establishes himself as one of the finest players in the league en-route to a 2nd place Norris finish. Tremblay, himself, begins to break out this season and carries that momentum into the playoffs, where his playmaking is instrumental in breaking the Toronto defense in the semifinals. Laperriere suffers his first in a long list of leg injuries in the deciding game six of the semis, and Tremblay is forced to take over #1 duties in the finals, which he does admirably, eventually leading the league in assists (and league defensemen in scoring) as the Habs win the Cup.

From Hockey Notes:

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The turning point in his professional career came during the 1965 Stanley Cup finals against Bobby Hull and the Chicago Black Hawks. With Jacques Laperriere down with a broken leg, Tremblay was called to step forward. He came through in a big way, playing 40 minutes a game and leading the Canadiens to their first championship in five years.
65-66: Laperriere comes back from the injury to play the best hockey of his career (winning the Norris in the offseason), but suffers another injury at about the 3/4 mark of the regular season, and is unavailable for the playoffs. This is really Tremblay's first peak season (and the only season in which their peaks truly overlap), and he ends up 4th in Norris voting. Again cast into the #1 role in the playoffs in the absence of Laperriere, Tremblay catches fire, leading the league in assists and defensemen scoring for a 2nd time in a row (as well as placing 1st in points on the Habs and 2nd in the league) en route to a Cup victory and his infamous Conn-Smythe near miss.

66-67: Laperriere's knee injury is much slower to heal this time around, and the Habs remove him from the 1st unit powerplay and top pairing for most of the season to take physical pressure off of him. Tremblay is now firmly established as the #1 defenseman in Montreal, playing across from Ted Harris on most nights, and ends up 5th in Norris voting. Lappy plays pretty well again in the regular season and garners a few Norris votes, but is again worn out by the playoffs and generally ineffective, being replaced by a 21 year old Carol Vadnais for one game. Tremblay is 5th in team scoring (behind only Tim Horton among NHL defensemen), doubling the output of the rest of the Montreal blueline put together and ahead of many of the forwards, but the Habs eventually succumb to a stingy Leafs defense in the semis.

67-68: Tremblay is at the height of his career and establishes himself as one of the dominant players in the league, losing the Norris to Bobby Orr in a fairly close vote. Laperriere has a good season and ends up 5th in Norris voting, himself, though it is again Tremblay who shines in the postseason, leading all NHL defensemen in scoring for a third time and scoring the Cup clinching goal against St. Louis.

68-69: The beat goes on in Montreal, as the Habs again sweep the Blues in the finals to capture the Cup. Tremblay betters his totals from the previous season with 39 points and a +29, but is locked out of the Norris voting in favor of teammate Ted Harris. This is Serge Savard's Conn-Smythe season and the only one of Tremblay's Cup winning years in which he is not the focal point of the defense.

69-70: Tremblay gets injured early in the season, misses games on and off throughout the year and is not himself. Laperriere has his best season since the injury - placing 4th in Norris voting (the only time after the injury in which he would place higher than Tremblay), but the Habs fail to qualify for the playoffs.

70-71: Both Laperriere and Savard are injured for much of the season and Tremblay has arguably his finest year as a professional, placing 3rd in Norris voting behind Orr and Park. Serge Savard cannot play, but Laperriere returns for the playoffs and performs well. Tremblay is again the star on defense, leading league defensemen in points for the 4th time and placing 2nd in league assists behind Beliveau while leading the Habs in game winning goals in route to another Stanley Cup. The real star of the postseason is rookie Ken Dryden, who carries a Habs team not favored to win (and without their best defensive defenseman) to the Cup in a stunning effort.

71-72: Tremblay's final season in Montreal. J.C. picks up where he had left off the previous season and establishes a personal high in +/- en route to another top-5 Norris finish. Serge Savard misses much of the season to injury, but the Habs blueline is bolstered by the development of Guy Lapointe. Montreal falls flat in the playoffs, going out to the Rangers in the 1st round.

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Tremblay and Laperriere were not "sharing" #1 duties during their respective time in Montreal. There was an established pecking order which had Laperriere at the top early on, only to be eclipsed by Tremblay later due to the former's injury problems and the latter's further development as a player. After 1966, Jacques Laperriere rarely even played on the top pairing, as Habs management preferred to pair Tremblay with a more physical partner (Harris early and later a rotation of guys). On Tremblay's first two Cup winners, Laperriere was the team's #1 defenseman in the regular season, but it was Tremblay who carried the workload in the playoffs, and was arguably Montreal's most valuable player (and inarguably #1 defenseman) through both Cup runs. Laperriere only played 6 out of 23 total playoff games on those Cup winners. On the latter three Cup teams, two times (1968 and 1971) Tremblay was quite clearly the best defenseman in Montreal both in regular and postseason, and one time Serge Savard was the hero of the Cup run.

It's worth noting that Montreal was able to win Cups over this period without Laperriere in the playoffs, but the one year that Tremblay got hurt (69-70), they did not even qualify for the postseason. Overall, J.C. Tremblay led the NHL in assists twice and all defensemen in scoring 4 times (all on Cup winners) during his peak. Over the span of Tremblay's peak years in Montreal (1965-72), he scored 60 points in 85 playoff games, an absolutely ridiculous pace for that era, and didn't have a single poor performance. The 2nd place scorer among defensemen over this period (Pat Stapleton) has barely more than 50% of Tremblay's total, with 32 points. J.C. Tremblay was quite clearly the dominant postseason defenseman of his era, and quite possibly the single best postseason player of his era, as well.

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2. Paul Coffey won a lot of Cups as a #1 dman, and he wasn't anything special defensively. I'm not compairing Tremblay to Coffey, but the "he won all these Cups as the #1 guy, how could he be anything less than very good in his own zone?" doesn't fly.
It's good that you're not comparing Coffey to Tremblay, because that would be an awful comparison. I don't seem to remember Paul Coffey ever playing 40 minutes a game, leading his team in postseason scoring or the league in assists or being described by any kind of superlatives that didn't have to do with his offensive game. Tremblay was great in both ends of the ice for those Habs Cup winners, and he was great consistently and for a long time. At any rate, Paul Coffey is an outlier for a lot of reasons, and bringing him up adds nothing but confusion to the discussion.

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3. Finally, not everyone who say Tremblay play shares your view of his defensive acumen. I've talked to more than one Canadiens fan who is old enough who was not a fan of Tremblay in the defensive zone. And no, I have no seen Tremblay play, other than the occasional video well after the fact. Take that for whatever you think it's worth.
I think it's worth very little, and that asking old Habs fans about J.C. Tremblay is probably like asking Sens fans about Dany Heatley. I will go with my own eyes and the words of men like Red Fisher over "some old Habs fan" you happen to know.

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Your co-GM said that Tremblay will not be used as a true #1 in the ATD. Surely, there is a reason for that.
Where did he say that? Not in this thread. If he actually said that, remind me to smack him, though I'm not sure he did, and I find it curious that you seem to remember better what my co-GM said about Tremblay in what I'm assuming must be the lineup assassination thread than what you said about him, yourself.

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