Montreal Canadiens: Thrilling Stories from Canada's Famous Hockey Franchise


132 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55439-054-0
DDC 796.962'64'0971428





Reviewed by Bob Forsey

Bob Forsey is the education officer at the Newfoundland Museum in St.


In surveying the histories of the Montreal Canadiens (est. 1909) and the
Toronto Maple Leafs (est. 1927), Jim Barber reveals the roles played by
team owners, general managers, coaches, and players in the building of a
championship team.

The common elements are (i) owners with deep pockets willing to invest
in the best farm teams, scouts, general managers, coaches, and players,
and (ii) an effective general manager who drafts the best young talent,
trades to fill gaps in the lineup, and signs the coach best able to
mould the players into a championship team. Discipline, toughness, and
teamwork formed the backbone of a championship team, according to Leafs
founder and long-time owner Conn Smythe.

When the Canadiens were winning Stanley Cups in bunches (during the
1950s, 1960s, and 1970s), the clubs all had these requirements. Under
coach Scotty Bowman (1970s), and led by Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire,
Steve Shutt, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, and Ken Dryden, they won
seven championships. During the 1960s, the Leafs won four Stanley Cups,
with Punch Imlach coaching Frank Mahovlich, Red Kelly, Dave Keon, Carl
Brewer, Tim Horton, Johnny Bower, and a tough and veteran supporting
cast. These championship teams were built with players scouted far and
wide in the minors, groomed in hockey basics on their farm teams, and
combined with role players acquired in astute trades to become champions
in the NHL.

Why did the Canadiens win so many more cups than the Leafs? Some hockey
analysts blame the refusal of Leafs owner Harold Ballard (1970–90) to
spend money on first-rate scouts, general managers, coaches, and
players. Jim Barber’s contributions to the Amazing Stories series make
it easier to understand why the Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley
Cups and the Toronto Maple Leafs only 11.


Barber, Jim., “Montreal Canadiens: Thrilling Stories from Canada's Famous Hockey Franchise,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 16, 2024,