The Montreal Canadiens are the oldest continually operating team in the NHL. The Canadiens have won more Stanley Cup titles than any other team (unprecedented 24 trophies), being the most successful franchise in League history. The team gained the final round 34 times in its illustrious history to win 24 and lose 9 of them. Their closest rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs have won 13 Cups and reached 21 finals.
Les Canadiens de Montreal (fr.) was founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1909. It predated the NHL, which was formed eight years later, in 1917.
The Montreal Canadiens were established by John Ambrose O’Brien, the founder of the National Hockey Association, the forerunner of the NHL. In 1909, he decided to organize a completely French club in the largest city in Quebec. In those years, the French-speaking population of Montreal mainly belonged to the lower strata of society, so the players of local hockey teams were English-speaking bourgeoisie. O’Brien attempted to capture Francophone Montrealers’ interest in ice hockey, so only French-speaking players were accepted to the team. Besides, he promised to hand the club over local owners as soon as there were any. The name of the team was not chosen by chance.
On the contrary, it had a certain meaning. The French spelling of the word “Canadiens” hinted the team belonged to the working class of Montreal. “Montreal” was conceived as true French from the very beginning. The team’s inaugural season was not a success; hence, it was sold to sports promoter George Kennedy.
There’s another version of why George Kennedy happened to be the new team owner. Being the owner of Le Club Athletique Canadien, he claimed his rights to the “Canadiens” team name. The dispute was settled by purchasing the team from John Ambrose O’Brien for $7,500. The Canadiens joined Kennedy’s club and officially adopted its name. It was then that a new logo appeared: simple printed “C” with “A” inside to stand for Club Athletique.
With the foundation of the new league in 1917, hockey players separated from Club Athletique and became known as club de Hockey Canadien. That’s the whole story about the brand forming of the key ice hockey club of Quebec. The team’s official name is still Le Club de Hockey Canadien, although, without exception, fans, journalists, and officials call the idols the Canadiens.
The franchise has other monikers, like Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge, La Sainte-Flanelle, Le Tricolore, and Les Habitants (or Habs), which is probably the most famous. Les Habitants is the informal name given in the 17th century to the French settlers by the Anglophone population of Canada. The Montreal Canadiens logo features Latin letters “C” and “H” that stand for “Canadiens” and “Hockey” (Club de Hockey Canadien), respectively. In 1924, Tex Rickard, the owner of the New York Rangers, apparently mentioned in the interview that the “H” in the logo on the Montreal Canadiens’ jerseys stood for “habitants,” which was not true. So the “Habs” nickname was a result of misconception. However, it’s the most famous team’s moniker.
As for the further history of Montreal Canadiens’ jerseys and logos, they have not undergone significant changes throughout the years. The alterations included narrowing and expanding of the stripes on the chest and sleeves and the logo color scheme (the current version of C-wrapped-around-H logo was finally settled in 1925). The Montreal Canadiens’ logo either appeared or disappeared on the sleeves.
After winning the 1924 Stanley Cup championship, the Habs unveiled a completely new jersey concept to play in the 1924-25 season. The jerseys contained the image of the globe on the chest, implying that the team was world champions. But the very next year, the “CH” logo took its usual place not to leave it anymore. The further alterations were pretty slight and did not cause any protests from the conservative public. To this day, the Canadiens classic jerseys remain one of the most prestigious uniforms in Hockey.
Though the team was founded nearly 100 years ago, the Canadiens did not have a mascot until the 2004 NHL season when they designated Youppi! As their official mascot. Youppi is the only mascot in NHL to switch the kind of sport. Earlier Youppi was the mascot of the Montreal Expos baseball team.
Meaning and History
Les Canadiens de Montreal is the first ice hockey team in the history of this sport to appear in Montreal, Quebec, in 1909. The iconic Canadiens logo came into existence in 1918. It featured just two Latin letters – “C” and “H.” This logo has been involved in far too many historic NHL moments to be ignored. The letter “H” in the logo represents “Hockey,” not “Habs,” a common misconception. The Canadiens C-wrapped-around-H logo is the oldest and one of the most recognizable and celebrated logos in NHL history. The iconic logo has taken 14 changes since being introduced in 1918. In 2000, its design was refined and brought to perfection.
The Montreal Canadiens’ logo for their inaugural season was extremely simple. It was a blue-scripted “C” to mean Canadiens. It was exploited for the 1909-1910 season only.
For its second season, the team adopted a new logo Montreal Canadiens, featuring a green maple leaf with a stylized Old English “C,” which stood for Canadiens.
A year later, the club logo was changed again. This time the logo included the same Old English letter “C” as the previous one, yet it was red with a thin blue outline.
The team’s fourth logo resembled the 1911 logo. It was a white maple leaf with a thin red trim reading blue-scripted “CAC,” which stood for Club Athletique Canadien.
1914 – 1917
The 1914 logo was the first one that looked similar to what we see today. It featured the red letter “A” inside the elongated “C” with a blue outline. There were three letters in the logo: A and double C, which stood for Athletique, Club, and Canadiens, respectively.
1918 – 1919
In 1918, the white-scripted “H” for Hockey replaced the letter “A.” The change was linked to the purchase of the team by the club de Hockey Canadien, run by George Kennedy. The outer blue outline of the red letter “C” was removed, but the inner one remained.
1920 – 1921
The 1920 logo seemed to be the most experimental in franchise history. Bright red was changed to its darker shade. Letters “C” and “H” were scripted without outlines, which ultimately made the logo more symmetrical.
The seventh change of the logo marked the 1922 season. This time, it was almost identical to the 1918 logo. There was the growth at the top-right corner of the “C.” The blue outline rounded the inner letter.
1923 – 1925
In 1923, the Canadiens went back to the white “H” and red “C” of the 1918 logo.
1926 – 1932
The tenth-anniversary logo again featured a thin blue outline around the entire Montreal Canadiens emblem. The rest remained the same as in the 1923 logo.
1933 – 1947
The next tweak to the logo occurred in 1933. The thin blue outline was thickened all around the logo. Also, the entire Montreal Canadiens logo looked visually wider; thus, the letter “H” seemed smaller. The Montreal Canadiens emblem lasted for 12 years before a rebranding.
1948 – 1956
The modifications included visual improvements in graphics and color contrast. A thick blue trim still went around the letters; however, the serifs were changed.
1957 – 1999
The Canadiens updated the logo in 1957. It lasted for nearly half a century. The opening side of the letter “C” was closed with a thick blue outline to make an elongated oval with “H” inside.
2000 – present
The most recent shape of the crest was introduced in 2000. It is identical to its predecessor. The slight alterations include modifications in graphics, colors, and shapes. The red letter “C” in combination with the white letter “H” has become symmetrical.