MONTREAL – The Canadiens’ history of success ranks the franchise among the top professional sports teams in North America. Read on to find out which winning tradition the Habs share with the All Blacks and Rafael Nadal.
For the sports connoisseur, the Montreal Canadiens firmly rank amongst the great major league franchises in history, alongside the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and Green Bay Packers of the world. However, one of the unparalleled accomplishments of the 104-year-old team is the ability to consistently match up against even the toughest of rivals.
Of all teams in the Big Four (NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB), the Canadiens are the only club to post a winning record against every single team it has faced over the years. From the cross-town Wanderers (2-0) and Maroons (40-35) in the early days of the National Hockey League, to the expansion Nashville Predators (9-5) and Anaheim Ducks (12-9), the Habs have managed to come out on top more often than not against any given rival. From Howie Morenz to Alex Galchenyuk, passing by Maurice Richard, Guy Lafleur and Saku Koivu, the bleu-blanc-rouge has managed to break 0.500 against 38 other past and present NHL franchises.
Head-to-head vs. Original Six teams
Vs. BOS: 351-264-103-7
Vs. TOR: 343-285-88-8
Vs. NYR: 327-189-94-3
Vs. CHI: 303-150-103-0
Vs. DET: 271-200-96-3
As for the great teams in other sports, the Yankees come closest to matching the achievement. Only a 5-7 lifetime record against the Cincinnati Reds prevents the Bronx Bombers from sharing top honors with the Canadiens. Meanwhile, the Lakers, one of the most powerful basketball dynasties in recent decades under Phil Jackson’s tutelage, fall short in the standings against the San Antonio Spurs (75-77) and the Boston Celtics (126-154).
Looking elsewhere, we were able to identify two other non-North American sporting icons with equally dominant track records. The widely-feared All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby union team, has a winning record against every single country it has faced in international competition since 1903. In the past century, only Australia, England, France, South Africa and Wales have been able to top the Kiwis in a test match. In individual sports, Rafael Nadal came into the 2013 US Open tennis tournament holding a winning record against every single player ranked in the world’s Top-30 at the time. The 27-year-old Spaniard currently holds 13 Grand Slam titles and leads handily in the head-to-head against Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Juan-Martin del Potro and Stanislas Wawrinka, the last men to go all the way in one of the four Majors.
While the Habs’ unique place in North American sports history is safe for now, they do need to remain vigilant. The Florida Panthers, of all teams, are threatening to turn the tides in their match-up against the Canadiens, who hold a narrow 35-33-6-3 edge coming into the game on March 29, 2014. Though the Panthers have only managed to sneak into the postseason four times in the team’s 20-year history, the Floridians can still spoil a party with the best of them.
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
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