New Survey to Mark the 100th Anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens

December 1, 2009

New Survey to Mark the 100th Anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens

TORONTO (December 1, 2009)  - A survey for the Historica-Dominion Institute, conducted by Ipsos Reid, examines Canadians’ attitudes towards the Montreal Canadiens as the team prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary on Friday.

The survey revealed that one half (47%) of Canadians ‘agree’ (17% strongly/30% somewhat) that the ‘Montreal Canadiens are the greatest hockey team in history’. In comparison, less than half as many Canadians, just two in ten (20%), ‘agree’ (3% strongly/16% somewhat) that ‘the Toronto Maple Leafs are the greatest hockey team in history’. Two in three Canadians (65%) also agree (24% strongly/41% somewhat) that ‘the Montreal Canadiens are to hockey what the New York Yankees are to baseball’.

The poll of over 1,000 Canadians found that more Canadians consider the Montreal Canadiens to be ‘Canada’s national hockey team’ (33%) than the Toronto Maple Leafs (25%). Comparatively few believe that distinction belongs to the Ottawa Senators (5%), the Vancouver Canucks (4%), the Calgary Flames (2%) or the Edmonton Oilers (2%). Despite having NHL teams in their province, many Canadians still feel a strong attachment to the Canadiens:

  • 19% of British Columbians consider the Montreal Canadiens to be ‘Canada’s national hockey team’ compared to 22% for the Vancouver Canucks;
  • 21% of Albertans consider the Montreal Canadiens to be ‘Canada’s national hockey team’ compared to 12% for the Calgary Flames and 14% for the Edmonton Oilers;
  • 22% of Ontarians consider the Montreal Canadiens to be ‘Canada’s national hockey team’ compared to 43% for the Toronto Maple Leafs and 8% for the Ottawa Senators;
  • Almost two in three Quebecers (65%) consider the Canadiens to be Canada’s national team.

“To a large number of Canadians, hockey is Canada and the Montreal Canadians are hockey’s greatest success story,” said Andrew Cohen, President of The Historica-Dominion Institute. “Our love of the Habs is strong even one hundred years after their creation, seventeen seasons after their last Stanley Cup victory and in a League with 30 franchises including 6 in Canada.”

One of the greatest rivalries in all of sport is between the Habs and the Leafs – Montreal vs. Toronto.  The survey found that:

  • If it were still possible for them to meet in the Stanley Cup final, and they did, 44% of Canadians say they’d cheer for the Canadiens, while slightly fewer (38%) would cheer for the Leafs.  Two in ten (18%) wouldn’t cheer for either team.
  • Three quarters (73%) of Canadians believe that the Habs will win their next Stanley Cup first, while one quarter (27%) thinks that the Leafs will emerge victorious first.
  • Six in ten (56%) agree (18% strongly/38% somewhat) that ‘the Montreal Canadiens best years are behind them’, but 44% ‘disagree’ (9% strongly/35% somewhat) that this is the case. However, four in ten (43%) believe that the Canadiens will win their next Cup within the next five years, while a similar proportion (42%) thinks it will take between 5 and 10 years before they once again hoist the Cup. Just one in ten (9%) maintain that it will take more than 10 years, while 6% think they will never again win the coveted Stanley Cup. 

One player clearly emerges in the public’s mind as the greatest Habs player in history:  45% of Canadians believe that Maurice “The Rocket” Richard is the best of all time. Meanwhile, two in ten believe Guy Lafleur (19%) has earned that title. Others think the crown goes to Patrick Roy (13%), Jean Béliveau (13%), Jacques Plante (4%) or Ken Dryden (1%).

The Historica-Dominion Institute is a national charitable organization launched on September 1, 2009. It was created out of two organizations: The Historica Foundation of Canada and The Dominion Institute. It is the country’s leading advocate of memory, identity and democracy, dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of Canada’s history and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Some of its signature programs are Encounters with Canada, The Memory Project, Passages to Canada and The Canadian Encyclopedia.

For more information, view detailed results.


Media Inquiries:

Andrew Cohen     

Marc Chalifoux
Executive Vice-President