As I mentioned in a previous post, the Vancouver Province newspaper is conducting an online poll where readers choose from 16 of the best all time playoff teams in a ranked playoff order format and facing off in head to head matches. The matches were decided by readers who voted for teams thought would win each series. As well a panel of experts weighed with an equal voting power to that of the readers.
The voting has now reached the Stanley Cup finals, and has resulted in the 1956 Montreal Canadiens playing against the 1976 Montreal Canadiens.
What a task! Montreal of 1956 featured Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Henri Richard and Dickie Moore, amongst others. 1976 featured Guy Lafleur, Ken Dryden, Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey and the big three on defense - Guy Lapointe, Larry Robinson and Serge Savard.
The debate between the two must be as fascinating as it is ultimately pointless. The two teams were from different eras and about as possible to truly compare as it is possible to actually see them go at it.
That being said, I'm giving my vote to the 1956 team. They had a tougher league to dominate, whereas the WHA really diluted NHL talent levels in the 1970s. Also I think 1956 Montreal had a little more fire power up front. Lafleur may have been the only true superstar on the 1976 team, where as 1956 featured Rocket and Beliveau. I also like Plante over Dryden.
I am very surprised that Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers are not represented in the finals. I'm not trying to say that the Oilers are more deserving than either of these Montreal teams, but given Gretzky's popularity, the Oilers aura, the west coast audience and the more modern time frame, I would have guessed the Oilers would have made it to the finals.
Let's here your comments! And don't forget to vote for the greatest Stanley Cup champion at the Vancouver Province website.