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Area 51

Wednesday, 13.07.2011 / 11:51 AM / News
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Area 51
MONTREAL -- With the news that David Desharnais will be shedding the No. 58 from the back of his jersey and going with No. 51 for his first full NHL campaign, we took a look back to see who else has sported the young center’s new number for the Habs.

David Desharnais unveils his new number
A total of four players on the Canadiens all-time roster have hit the ice for Montreal with the No. 51 on their back – all of them within the last 20 years.

Andrei Kovalenko – 1995-96

While Andrei Kovalenko may have only spent part of one of his nine NHL seasons as a member of the Canadiens, he still managed to weave his way into the franchise’s history during his short time in Montreal.

Kovalenko joined the Canadiens on Dec 6, 1995 along with Martin Rucinsky and Jocelyn Thibault as part of the infamous trade that sent Mike Keane and hometown hero, Patrick Roy to the Colorado Avalanche. The Russian right-winger would skate as a Hab for 51 games over the course of the 1995-96 season, netting 17 goals and adding another 17 helpers for 34 points in that time.

Before leaving Montreal, Kovalenko would have the honor of scoring the last goal for the Canadiens on Forum ice, beating Andy Moog in the Habs 4-1 victory over the Stars.

David Ling – 1996-98

Traded to the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge by the Calgary Flames, David Ling was part of the Canadiens’ organization from 1996-98. He made his NHL debut with the Habs in 1996-97, playing two games with Montreal during that season and another one in 1997-98. He was held pointless in each of those three contests before being traded to the Blackhawks in 1998.

Francis Bouillon – 1999-09

The only defenseman to ever wear No. 51 for the Canadiens, Francis Bouillon was also the Hab to sport the number the longest period of time.

Picked up by the Habs as a free-agent in 1998, Bouillon laced up for 481 games over nine seasons with the Canadiens, potting 21 goals and 81 assists for 102 points as a member of the Montreal squad.

While Bouillon may not have hoisted the Cup during his time with the team, he was, however, present for two of the most memorable comebacks in Habs history: A Game 7 win on Apr. 19, 2004 against the Bruins that marked the first time the club had ever erased a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series; and the biggest comeback in team history on Feb. 19th 2008, when the Habs stormed back to beat the Rangers 6-5 in overtime after going down 5-0 in the game’s first 25 minutes.

Aaron Palushaj – 2010-11
   
Another right-winger to wear No. 51 for the Habs, Palushaj - Desharnais’ teammate in Hamilton - was called up to make his NHL debut with the Canadiens on March 16, 2011. He would be held scoreless in his short stint of three games with the Habs before returning to the AHL.

Players wearing No. 51 for the Habs have combined for a total of 136 points in 538 games in Canadiens history. Desharnais remains the only Hab to ever wear the No. 58, registering 23 points in 49 games with Montreal between 2009 and 2011.

Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.


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