They would have looked great in the bleu, blanc et rouge of the Montreal Canadiens, but Quebec-born players like Dave Keon, Vincent Lecavalier, Ray Bourque, Michel Goulet and Jean Ratelle made life miserable for Les Habitants on numerous occasions.
Now it's Philadelphia Flyers forwards Danny Briere and Simon Gagne and, possibly, Ian Laperriere's chance to crush the hopes of the Canadiens' fans they grew up with. The Flyers hold a 2-0 lead over the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Final with Game 3 tonight (7 p.m., Versus, CBC, RDS).
The Canadiens have won more Stanley Cups (24, 23 as an NHL member) than any other team, and a big part of that success was based on their territorial rights to all players within 50 miles of Montreal. That right expired in 1969, though several of those players were still with the team when it won its fourth-straight Stanley Cup in 1979. Since then, they've won twice, in 1986 and 1993. That's 22 Stanley Cups with territorial rights -- just two without.
Keon was born almost 400 miles from Montreal in the mining town of Rouyn-Noranda, Que., and Canadiens fans wish it had been 10 times that far. Keon is the all-time regular-season scoring leader against the Canadiens with 48 goals and 111 points, and he ranks fourth in Stanley Cup history with 9 goals and 19 points. More important, he led the Maple Leafs to three-straight Stanley Cups in 1962-64 -- and then the one that rankles Montreal fans the most, in 1967, the final year of the Original Six.
Lecavalier, born in Ile Bizard, is the leading scorer against Montreal among active players with 14 goals and 34 points while teammate Martin St. Louis, born in Laval, is next with 15 goals and 29 points. Gagne, from Ste. Foy, is third with 10 goals and 25 points while Briere, from Gatineau, is fourth with 13 goals and 24 points.
Both Gagne and Briere have scored twice in the current series with the Canadiens. Briere got the third goal and Gagne the fourth on a power play in Sunday's 6-0 victory Game 1 in Philadelphia. Briere also had an assist. They both scored again in Game 2 on Tuesday in a 3-0 win.
Laperriere, a Montreal native, has yet to play because of a brain contusion suffered when he blocked a shot in the first round against the New Jersey Devils, but he is nearing a return.
Quebec-born Habs killers go back a long way. Montreal native Fleming Mackell played a big role in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 1951 Stanley Cup victory over the Canadiens, and Marcel Pronovost, from Lac a la Tortue, was a Hall of Fame defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings when they won four Stanley Cups in six years from 1950-55, including final-series victories over Montreal in 1952, 1954 and 1955.
The Canadiens have won 24 of 32 Stanley Cup series against the Boston Bruins and Montreal-born Bourque shared in the misery, losing first-round sweeps in 1984, 1986 and 1987 and in a five-game series in 1985. Bourque had an overall record of 2-13 in Stanley Cup Playoff games against the Canadiens before the Bruins knocked the Canadiens out in the 1988 division final, their first series win over the Habs since 1943.
Bourque then helped the Bruins to series wins over Montreal in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994, posting individual totals of 7 goals and 33 points, the all-time leader in Stanley Cup Playoff points against the Canadiens by a Quebec-born player.
The Canadiens probably should have kept Jude Drouin, their third-round pick in 1966 from Murdochville, who played 12 games for them before his 1970 trade to the Minnesota North Stars. With the North Stars and New York Islanders, Drouin had 7 goals and 20 points in Stanley Cup Playoff games against the Canadiens.
The Canadiens waged four great playoff series against their provincial rivals, the Quebec Nordiques, in the 1980s and Peribonca-born Michel Goulet was right at the heart of them, posting 10 goals and 19 points. The Nordiques eliminated the Canadiens in 1982 and 1985 but suffered bitter defeats in 1984 and 1987.
The Canadiens had dynastic teams in the 1950s and 1960s and got off to a good start in the 1970s by winning the 1971 and 1973 Stanley Cups but their hopes for a dynasty early in the decade were dashed by the New York Rangers and Montreal-born Jean Ratelle, whose own hopes for a Stanley Cup were dashed by the Canadiens in 1978 and 1979. Ratelle had 7 goals and 18 points against the Canadiens in playoff games, tied for fifth in points with Mackell, who had 8 goals.
Montreal-born Martin Brodeur's 38 regular-season victories over the Canadiens is the record for Quebec-born goaltenders, and he is 4-1 against them in the playoffs. Following him is an honor roll of excellent NHL goalies including Gump Worsley (29), Lorne Chabot and Eddie Johnston, tied with 20. Worsley, Chabot and Johnston are all from Montreal, as is Bernie Parent, who had 10 victories.
St. Bonaventure's Patrick Lalime has 17 regular-season wins against the Canadiens, followed by Val D'Or's Daniel Bouchard (15); Lac St. Charles' Marty Biron (14); and St. Hyacinthe's Denis DeJordy, (13).