March 11 marks a series bitter sweet moments in the history of the Montreal Canadiens.
The first date of significance came on 1937 when the funeral for Howie Morenz was held at the Montreal Forum. 15,000 people made their way into the forum for the service and close to 50,000 people passed by the casket to pay their respects.
The streets were lined with onlookers as Morenz’s funeral procession left the Forum and made it’s way to his final resting place.
Fifty-nine years later in 1996, the Canadiens said farewell to the Forum by winning the last game by a 4-1 margin over the Dallas Stars. Andrei Kovalenko is noted with scoring the last goal on the hallowed ice.
Following the game, a most memorable ceremony was held. The Forum, the current Canadiens roster and those in attendance welcomed back the Canadiens’ legends to give the building a proper farewell.
Receiving the greatest reception was Maurice Richard, who found himself brought to tears during an ovation that lasted close to eight minutes.
One of the other highlights of the ceremony was the passing of the torch by each former captain, who passed the it along to the next in line.
The torch made its way to the hands of nine captains in total from the oldest living captain, Emile Bouchard to Maurice Richard, to Jean Beliveau and finally reachingthe hand of then current captain Pierre Turgeon.
In 2006, the Canadiens honored Hall of Famer Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, the son-in-law of Howie Morenz, by retiring his No. 5 sweater the the rafters of the Bell Centre.
The ceremony had been planned since October of 2005. Sadly, Bernie Geoffrion passed that morning, following a battle with cancer. His family fulfilled his wishes to attend the ceremony.
Other events on this day…
1914: The Canadiens lose the Stanley Cup to the Toronto Blueshirts by a 6-0 score. It was the first Stanley Cup game to be played on artificial ice.
1918: The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Blueshirts played the first all-NHL Stanley Cup playoff game. Toronto defeated Montreal 7-4.
1924: The Canadiens won a two-game, total-points series 5-2 over the Ottawa Senators , to claim the NHL championship.
1945: Elmer Lach had a goal and three assists in an 11-5 win over the New York Rangers. Lach's three assists gave him 51 for the season, a new NHL record.
1950: Rookie goaltender Gerry McNeil, replacing the injured Bill Durnan, recorded his first career NHL shutout to lead the Canadiens to a 5-0 win against the Boston Bruins. Elmer Lach scored a goal and two assists.
1961: Henri Richard scored the third hat trick of his NHL career, as the Canadiens won 7-5 against the Bruins.
1969: Gump Worsley recorded his 40th career shutout as the Canadiens won 3-0 over the St. Louis Blues.
1982: Rookie goaltender Rick Wamsley recorded his third career shutout as the Canadiens won 4-0 over the Chicago Blackhawks.
2003: The Canadiens trade Doug Gilmour trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 6th round pick (Mark Flood) in 2003.
Habs Born on This Day: Sprague Cleghorn (1890), Earl Robinson (1907), Martin Rucinsky (1971)