The Montreal Canadiens are set to honour former player and community icon P.K. Subban with a “Homecoming” ceremony this week. Many fans feel like the warm gesture is long overdue given the way Subban’s time in Montreal ended.
And although most seem to be in agreement that the team made the right call here, the upcoming Bell Centre ceremony has sparked conversations about which other former Habs deserve the same treatment.
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Aside from number retirements and Hockey Hall of Fame inductions, here are five more players the Canadiens should consider honouring.
Only five players have suited up for the Canadiens more times than Andrei Markov. The beloved Russian defenceman, who spent his entire NHL career with the Habs, even has more games under his belt than the likes of Maurice Richard and Guy Lafleur.
Aside from his longevity, Markov was always a steady and reliable force on the blue line. Like teammate Saku Koivu — who was honoured with a ceremony back in 2014 — Markov was a man of few words but led by example on both ends of the ice.
His time with the team came to an abrupt end in 2017 when he and his agent couldn’t see eye-to-eye with former general manager Marc Bergevin. Many felt that the veteran player was disrespected.
In order to make amends and give fans what they want, a Markov ceremony would be a no-brainer.
For nearly two decades, Tomas Plekanec was one of Montreal’s most consistent and reliable two-way forwards, spending the majority of that time in the top six.
His poise on the ice and loyalty to the franchise are two things he’s most remembered for. There’s no doubt that Pleky would be met with a warm welcome if he was reintroduced to the Habs faithful one night before the puck drops.
Nicknamed Le Petit Viking, Mats Naslund was one of Montreal’s most beloved players of the 1980s.
In his 617 games with the team, Naslund amassed an impressive 612 points. He was also a pivotal part of leading the Canadiens to the 1986 Stanley Cup win, scoring 43 goals that season and 19 more points in the playoffs.
In 871 regular season games with Montreal, Steve Shutt scored a whopping 408 goals and 776 points with the team. In that time he collected five Stanley Cup rings. As a result, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
Shutt, who found chemistry on a line with Guy Lafleur, was also the first Canadiens player to ever score 60 goals in a single season.
Arguments about whether Shutt’s number belongs in the rafters have been going on for a while, but there should be none about letting him greet the Bell Centre’s roaring crowd.
Jacques Lemaire played all 853 games of his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens, winning a ridiculous eight Stanley Cups in the process. With his booming slapshot, Lemaire was a solid forward throughout those dynasty years but is often overshadowed by his teammates.
Nonetheless, he was named one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players in 2017. Had he played for any other franchise, there’s no doubt his number 25 would have been retired long ago.
Giving him pre-game ceremony is the least the Habs can do for him.