The Montreal Canadiens hope the return of a legend can inspire a generation of new Hab players to victory.
Prior to Monday night's contest against the Ottawa Senators, the Canadiens will honour Hall of Fame defenceman Larry Robinson by retiring his number, raising his No. 19 to the rafters of Montreal's Bell Centre.
Approximately 70 friends, family members and Canadiens legends, including former coach Scotty Bowman, will be in attendance for a ceremony that pays tribute to one of the best blue-liners in NHL history.
Robinson, now 56, scored 208 goals and tallied 958 points in 1,384 NHL games for the Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings from 1972 to 1992.
"Larry was the total package," Bowman told the Montreal Gazette. "Offensive … defensive … toughness and leadership. He and Serge [Savard] were the best tandem I have seen in the NHL. He could really skate for a big man. Never backed off from a challenge."
Once the ceremony is out of the way, the Canadiens will turn their attention to Ottawa, which leads Montreal by five points in the Northeast Division.
Montreal, which sports an 11-5-3 record, comes into the contest having won four of their previous six games, including a 7-4 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
"It seemed like we'd get the lead and then make one big mistake and let them score," said Roman Hamrlik, who had a goal and an assists for the Canadiens against the Bruins. "We knew we didn't want to change anything after the second period and we came out hard."
Ottawa will try to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time after suffering a 3-0 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto onSaturday, but could find the going tough, as they have lost five of their last seven games at the Bell Centre.
Honouring Big Bird
Nicknamed Big Bird, Robinson was drafted 20th overall in 1971 by Montreal, where he played 17 seasons before signing with the Kings on July 26, 1989.
Robinson was a two-time winner of the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman (1977, 1980), earning induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.
The Winchester, Ont., native was a six-time Stanley Cup champion with the Canadiens, capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable playoff performer in 1978.
Yet most remarkable was his career rating of plus-730, including an astonishing plus-120 in 1976-77.
The Canadiens will raise Bob Gainey's No. 23 to the rafters of the Bell Centre on Feb. 23.
The other Canadiens to have their numbers retired were: Jacques Plante (1); Doug Harvey (2); Jean Beliveau (4); Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion (5); Howie Morenz (7); Maurice (Rocket) Richard (9); Guy Lafleur (10); Yvan Cournoyer and Dickie Moore (12); Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard (16); Serge Savard (18); and Ken Dryden (29).