One of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in league history, Yvan Cournoyer won 10 Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens and later returned to the rink to coach the Montreal Roadrunners and work as assistant coach for the Canadians.
Cournoyer grew up in Drummondville, Quebec, and took to the ice early. He began playing hockey at age seven. When his family moved to Montreal, Cournoyer continued to play and scored extra practice time getting a job at an ice hockey rink.
“It’s a dream come true. You know, your dream, you’re going to play for Montreal and win the Stanley cup,” Cournoyer said. “When you put your sweater on for the first time and you look around you…it’s a hell of a trail. My first game was in Detroit on the road. I wasn’t big in Detroit, but I was playing against all those great names. I was lucky. We won 7-3, and I always said, I got the winning goal (the seventh).”
Nicknamed “Roadrunner” for his speed and size, Cournoyer was left-handed but played right wing. He explains how he played hockey with determination and used his stature as an advantage on the ice:
“My speed helped me a lot. I had good legs and determination. If you want to make it, you have to go all the way. You cannot be intimidated by anybody. You do your job and if you score goals, you’re going to stay in there,” Cournoyer said.
Cournoyer won 10 Stanley Cups in just 16 years and spent his entire career with his hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens. His first Cup victory came during the 1965 Finals against the Chicago Black Hawks. Ten years later, he was elected team captain.
“I got the first one on one when I was 20-years-old. We beat them in four and it really changes your game after that,” Cournoyer said. “When the captain is handed the Stanley Cup and you get to hoist it, then you get to give it to your teammates and pass it around…that moment is one of the greatest, probably one of the top two or three greatest moments in sports.”
Cournoyer was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982 and went on to coach the Montreal Roadrunners and then became assistant coach of the Montreal Canadians.
Watching the league today, Cournoyer reflects on how the game has changed, “I like the speed. The skills are better. The equipment is better. The training is better.”
Cournoyer scored 25 goals or more for 11 consecutive seasons and 40 or more goals four times and is currently an ambassador to the Montreal Canadiens.