The Montreal Canadiens' 3 greatest rivals

by
Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens endure as the envy of the entire NHL.

They're the oldest, most celebrated, and most successful team in hockey history, having won 24 Stanley Cups since the franchise's establishment in 1909.

Montreal's riches make for some great pregame nostalgia - some of the best in professional sport, in fact. But more importantly, its success has helped birth some of the fiercest rivalries.

Because let's face it: All that winning is needling for everyone else. Here are three teams who live that exasperation:

Boston Bruins

There isn't a more deep-seated rivalry than the Habs and Bruins. And much of that hate stems from a horrific incident more than six decades ago.

Long story short: Maurice "Rocket" Richard - one of the greatest Canadiens of all time - snapped, unleashing a vicious attack on an opponent and an official. It was so ugly, Boston-area police were involved. NHL president Clarence Campbell responded with a season-long suspension and, unafraid, showed up at the Canadiens' next game. This, of course, was not received terribly well, and a riot spilled into the streets of Montreal.

Related: The Boston Bruins' 3 greatest rivals

The teams have exchanged all sorts of violence since, though thankfully not quite to that degree. Authorities, however, were involved once again in 2011 when Montreal police opened a criminal investigation into Zdeno Chara for breaking a vertebrae in Max Pacioretty's neck with a brazen body check into a stanchion.

Chara ultimately wasn't charged, and law enforcement didn't get involved three seasons later, when Boston's Milan Lucic directed death threats at Dale Weise in the handshake line after the Canadiens' Eastern Conference semifinal triumph.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Combatants for 98 years, the Canadiens and Maple Leafs have the league's longest-standing rivalry, despite the venom between the two clubs having steadily subsided.

This, however, isn't Montreal's doing. The Canadiens have 10 Stanley Cups in the time since the Maple Leafs won their last championship, captured against the Habs in 1967. The two teams have met in the playoffs twice in the near half-century since - both championship seasons for Montreal, in which it advanced past Toronto in four games.

The Canadiens' proliferation of Stanley Cups has certainly slowed - they've won just twice in 30 years - but they remain steadfastly competitive as Toronto toils. Montreal has missed the postseason seven times since its last championship in 1993, while the Maple Leafs have missed nine times over the last 10 seasons.

Today, the rivalry is more about entitlement between territories and cultures than the happenings on the ice, as residents of both regions are firm in the belief that their city is the mecca of the sport.

Ottawa Senators

Although their first meeting dates back almost 100 years, the Canadiens and Senators don't share the same historical hate as the rivalries mentioned previously.

But they're certainly learning to loathe.

Montreal and Ottawa met in two of the more contentious and entertaining playoff series in recent seasons. First, in 2013 - the first postseason series between them in 86 years - nastiness on the ice extended through the media. Senators coach Paul MacLean traded shots with Michel Therrien and Brandon Prust in response to Eric Gryba's massive open-ice hit on Lars Eller in Game 1. Ottawa went on to win in five games.

2015 saw Montreal exact revenge for the defeat two years earlier in a series whose temperature rose once again at the outset. Emotions after P.K. Subban's slash on Mark Stone, which broke the wrist of the Senators' star rookie, lingered ominously until the Canadiens won in six.

The Digest

Everything you need to know about the Canadiens' Winter Classic victory

theScore Staff
Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens met for the 910th time in NHL history on Friday, Jan. 1, but this game was different.

Played outdoors at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., the Canadiens were victorious at the 2016 Winter Classic, defeating the Bruins 5-1 on the backs of Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, and Mike Condon.

Game Recap

The Canadiens went into Gillette Stadium and did what very few teams have done: dominate the home team.

Led by Gallagher, who returned from two broken fingers, Montreal earned the largest margin of victory in Winter Classic history, in ideal conditions. (Read more.)

Photos

Game Highights

Post-Game Reaction

A Storied Rivalry

Rose Tattoo - Boston Bruins & Montreal Canadiens Rivalry

Bruins, Canadiens tangle outdoors

Fantasy