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May 03, 2008

1959: Bonin's Big Spring

The year is 1959. The Montreal Canadiens win their 4th consecutive Stanley Cup championship, the first team to accomplish that magnificent feat. The Canadiens knocked off the streaking Toronto Maple Leafs in five games.

Although Jean Beliveau, missed the finals with two cracked vertebrae, the Canadiens had plenty of fire power in the likes of Boom Boom Geoffrion, Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dickie Moore, Bert Olmstead, Jacques Plante, Henri Richard and of course Maurice "Rocket" Richard.

But the spring of 1959 was all about an unheralded left-winger named Marcel Bonin, who is better remembered for wrestling bears and refusing to score goals.

Marcel Bonin was a very solid player, but not a true front-liner. He was feisty and physical, good at retrieving pucks in corners and scrums. Though he never had dominating scoring statistics, he had decent enough hands to make a nice pass after securing the puck from a battle. He was very versatile, able to play either wing and a nice fit with several line combinations.

Bonin averaged about 15 goals a season, but he could have scored more. Interestingly, the following Bonin quote suggests he didn't really want to score more.

"I reached my yearly average. I scored 15 goals like in the previous years. If I score 19, they will expect 25 for next year. I don't want to get into that. So...for the next 7 or 8 games, I'll be the playmaker but you score the goals. It's over for me."

That definitely wasn't the case in the 1959 playoffs. The left-winger had the greatest moments of his career as he led the playoffs in goals with 10, four more than anyone else, in 11 games. Three of his goals were game winners. He scored 7 goals in the first round against Chicago and added another three, including the championship winning goal, in round two against Toronto.

Bonin had a reputation as a solid playoff performer, but his scoring outbreak was nothing short of incredible. Much like a modern day John Druce or Chris Kontos, Bonin's hot streak was a blip. Though he was a nice piece of 4 Stanley Cup championships, Marcel Bonin would only score 1 goal and 10 assists in 39 other career NHL playoff games.

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