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Countdown to Savard Night begins

Friday, 17.11.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
Montreal Canadiens
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Countdown to Savard Night begins
Former Habs defenseman to have his No. 18 retired Saturday night at the Bell Centre

Serge Savard helped lead the Canadiens to eight Stanley Cups over the course of his 15 years spent playing for the Habs.

MONTREAL -  In what is sure to be a memorable night at the Bell Centre, a Canadiens victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Serge Savard night on Saturday would just be icing on the cake for the Hall of Fame defenseman.

From Savard to fans lucky enough to be present and even the thousands watching at home, a retired jersey ceremony is always special. With Savard's big night marking the ninth such evening in team history, the Canadiens have a 3-3-2 mark with a freshly hung banner high above their home ice.

Last season saw the Canadiens blank the Rangers 1-0 on one of the most emotional nights in hockey history when Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion's No. 5 was raised to the rafters of the Bell Centre on the same day he passed away. That victory, fittingly sealed by a Craig Rivet slapshot, was the Habs first win on a retired jersey night in over 20 years.

With the Canadiens losing to the Flyers on Jacques Plante Night back on Oct. 7, 1995, Montreal's last victory dated back to Oct. 26, 1985, when legendary defenseman Doug Harvey was honored. That night, the Habs beat the Hartford Whalers 5-3 at the Forum with Mats Naslund potting a pair of goals, including the game winner. Head coach Guy Carbonneau and GM Bob Gainey were both in uniform that night with Carbo picking up an assist. 

Howie Morenz was the first Habs player to have his jersey retired, but the star forward's No. 7 was posthumously honored as part of the 1937 NHL All-Star Game at the Forum.

The first player to have his ceremony before a Canadiens game was none other than Maurice "Rocket" Richard, whose trademark No. 9 was retired prior to the Habs taking on Toronto on Oct. 6, 1960. Thanks to future jersey retirees Jean Beliveau, Bernard Geoffrion, Doug Harvey, Dickie Moore and Richard's little brother, the hated Maple Leafs did not rain on the Rocket's parade that night. Henri scored a pair of goals in the 5-0 drubbing, while Geoffrion also scored, Moore had three assists, Beliveau chipped in with a pair of helpers and Harvey picked up an assist of his own.

Time will tell who will step up tomorrow for the Canadiens to ensure that Serge Savard leaves the Bell Centre on Saturday night with an even bigger smile on his face.

Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com