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01-28-2013, 08:54 PM
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Elmer Lach, C

One of the top playmaking centers ever to compete in the NHL, Elmer Lach spent his entire 14-year career with the Montreal Canadiens. He helped "les glorieux" win the Stanley Cup three times and gained much acclaim as the center on the club's dreaded Punch Line with Toe Blake and Maurice Richard. Lach also received accolades for his determination on the ice and his resilience in battling a host of serious injuries.
Most observers were particularly impressed with his blinding speed and devotion to defensive play.
With the conclusion of the 1953-54 season, Lach's fourteenth, Elmer Lach had played 664 regular season contests, collecting 215 goals and 408 assists for 623 points. In 76 postseason games, he accumulated 64 points on 19 goals and 45 assists. But the points, as impressive as they are, reflect but one aspect of an outstanding career. The skilled centre was master of the faceoff and was effective defensively as he was in the offensive zone. The Hockey News ranked Lach number 68 on their 100 Greatest Hockey Players in 1998. In 1966, Elmer Lach was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.*
Elmer Lach on the Punch Line:
The three of us did like to win. We made sure that we didn't have any goals scored against us. We hated that more than wanting to score. As for Rocket, he enjoyed scoring the goals and I enjoyed watching him.
Coach Dick Irvin on Lach:
Dick Irvin declares that only two hockey players in recent memory have had the capacity to "make" wings.

"One was Bill Cowley and the other was Elmer Lach" said Dick. "Cowley was the better playmaker but he wasn't as good a hockey player as Elmer because he was weak defensively."
Oct 2, 1948 Montreal Gazette:
"I've seen them all in the last 20 years as a coach and I played against the best for some years before that and to my mind Lach is certainly among the three great centres of all time," said Irvin. "The other two?...well, you can't leave Howie Morenz out of it and for my other man I'd take Mickey Mackay of the old Pacific Coast League."

Then Irvin came up with his novel twist on the evaluation of a hockey player.

"You've heard of the one-way player...the man who only scores goals but doesn't back-check. Then there's the two-way player who's good at both. Well, Lach is the perfect four-way player. He not only is able to go up and down the ice but he goes to both sides as well.

"Lach has that happy faculty that made Babe Ruth such a terrific baseball player. He's able to do the right thing at the right time just as naturally as can be. He doesn't make mistakes in a hockey game and he has a great will-to-win."

"Another thing I'd like to stress about the Punch Line is the way they all backchecked. Some people seem to think that Richard isn't much of a backchecker. Well, we have records that show the Punch Line was scored on only 14 times in 60 games. That's certainly not a bad showing...and Richard helped make it.
The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory:
Lach...was a fast, smooth skater, tenacious in the corners, had good vision and deft hands and could fire a puck through a churning thicket of legs and skates and place it on the blade of a teammate's stick.
One observer noted that "Lach still has all his old speed, skates opponents into the ice and is setting up plays with his usual skill."

Last edited by overpass: 04-17-2013 at 08:02 PM.
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