Shuffling the Deck: Can Anyone Challenge the Canadiens?


Can Anyone Challenge Canadiens in Hockey HOF Remix?


By Glenn Guzzo


            The brains behind Strat-O-Matic’s breakthrough Hockey Hall of Fame ratings worked overtime to divide the 230 players in 12 relatively equal teams. You’ll find them divided that way in the computer game, bearing the name of a dozen famous captains.


            But Strat-O-Matic has always attracted “What-If” gamers and a set without stock teams invites all sorts of tinkering. Among the likeliest efforts is forming all-time franchise teams, at least for the Original Six NHL teams who have been placing alumni into the Hall of Fame for generations.


            Discarding the dozens of carded HOFers who didn’t actually play in the NHL, and doing slight tinkering to fill the Chicago and Detroit rosters with players who played some of those teams but more for another, it’s possible to put together a nice eight-team league.


Montreal, winner of 23 Stanley Cups – more than Boston, Chicago, Detroit and New York combined – can fill two lustrous teams, one consisting of pre-World War II Canadiens, the other of post-War Habs.     


            The eighth team is a spectacular unit of expansion-franchise alumni. Although none of those franchises has been around long enough to place nearly enough players in the Hall to complete a roster, combining the greatest players from Edmonton, the New York Islanders, the Philadelphia Flyers and others makes a formidable unit.


            It is perhaps the only other squad that could challenge the post-War Canadiens for supremacy over the long haul. That’s even after losing the great Marcel Dionne to the Red Wings.


Here’s how the card set could be divided into these eight teams, starting with the favorites. Where feasible, players who actually were on lines together are listed that way here, as are defensive pairings. The expansion-era stars are teamed by franchise where feasible. (Lines are shown as center-left wing-right wing):


Post-War Montreal

(a franchise so great that three lines were all actual lines during various mini-dynasties)


Goal: Ken Dryden, Bill Durnan, Jacques Plante


Defense: Guy Lapointe and Larry Robinson; Serge Savard and Jacques Laperriere; Doug Harvey and Tom Johnson; Butch Bouchard and Ken Reardon


1st Line: Jacques Lemaire-Steve Shutt-Guy Lafleur

2nd Line: Elmer Lach-Toe Blake-Maurice Richard

3rd Line: Jean Beliveau-Dickie Moore-Bernard Geoffrion

4th Line: Henri Richard-Bert Olmstead-Yvan Cournoyer

extra left wing: Bob Gainey


Expansion All-Stars


Goal: Grant Fuhr, Bernie Parent, Patrick Roy, Billy Smith

Defense: Scott Stevens and Denis Potvin; Rod Langway and Larry Murphy; Paul Coffey

1st Line: Wayne Gretzky-Mark Messier-Jari Kurri (all Edmonton)

2nd Line: Bryan Trottier-Clark Gillies-Mike Bossy (all Islanders)

3rd Line: Mario Lemieux-Michel Goulet-Joe Mullen

4th Line: Bobby Clarke-Bill Barber-Mike Gartner

extra centers: Bernie Federko, Dale Hawerchuk, Pat Lafontaine, Gil Perreault, Peter Stastny




Goal: Johnny Bower, Turk Broda

Defense: Allan Stanley and Tim Horton; Borje Salming and King Clancy; Hap Day and Red Horner

1st Line: Dave Keon-Frank Mahovlich-George Armstrong

2nd Line: Darryl Sittler-Bob Pulford-Lanny McDonald

3rd Line: Ted Kennedy-Harry Watson-Ace Bailey

4th Line: Joe Primeau-Busher Jackson-Charlie Conacher

5th Line: Syl Apps-Sweeney Schriner-Gordie Drillon





Goal: Terry Sawchuk, Harry Lumley

Defense: Viacheslav Fetisov and Red Kelly; Marcel Pronovost and Bill Quackenbush; Jack Stewart and Ebbie Goodfellow

1st Line: Sid Abel-Ted Lindsay-Gordie Howe

2nd Line: Norm Ullman-Syd Howe-Marcel Dionne

3rd Line: Alex Delvecchio-Herbie Lewis-Steve Yzerman





Goal: Frank Brimsek, Gerry Cheever, Tiny Thompson

Defense: Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr; Leo Boivin and Eddie Shore; Fern Flaman

1st Line: Phil Esposito-Johnny Bucyk-Dit Clapper

2nd Line: Milt Schmidt-Woody Dumart-Bobby Bauer

3rd Line: Bill Cowley-Marty Barry-Harry Oliver

extra center: Conney Weiland



Pre-War Montreal

(from several Montreal and Quebec teams)


Goal: George Hainsworth, Georges Vezina

Defense: Jack Laviolette and Art Ross; Sprague Cleghorn and Herb Gardiner; Lionel Conacher and Sylvio Mantha; Joe Hall

1st Line: Howie Morenz-Joe Malone-Aurel Joliat

2nd Line: Buddy O’Connor-Newsy Lalonde-Didier Pitre

3rd Line: Nels Stewart-Tommy Smith-Hooley Smith



New York Rangers


Goal: Eddie Giacomin, Chuck Rayner, Gump Worsley

Defense: Ching Johnson and Brad Park; Babe Pratt and Harry Howell; Neil Colville and Art Coulter; Lester Patrick

1st Line: Jean Ratelle-Andy Bathgate-Rod Gilbert

2nd Line: Frank Boucher-Bun Cook-Bill Cook

3rd Line: Edgard LaPrade-Lynn Patrick-Bryan Hextall





Goal: Tony Esposito, Chuck Gardiner, Glenn Hall, Hugh Lehman

Defense: Bill Gadsby and Pierre Pilote, Earl Seibert and Cyclone Taylor

1st Line: Stan Mikita-Bobby Hull-Barney Stanley

2nd Line: Max Bentley-Doug Bentley-Bill Mosienko

3rd Line: Denis SavardRoy Conacher-Duke Keats

4th Line: Dick Irvin-Clint Smith-Mickey MacKay