Canadiens to retire No. 12 twice

Updated: November 11, 2005, 1:56 PM ET
Associated Press

MONTREAL -- Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer played such an important part in the storied history of the Montreal Canadiens. So it's fitting the team will twice honor the No. 12 they shared during nearly 30 years.

Hall of Famers who won 16 Stanley Cups between them, Moore and Cournoyer will become the first Canadiens to have the same jersey retired when their number is raised to the Bell Centre rafters before Saturday night's game against Toronto.

"You need players like them to win the Stanley Cup and they certainly deserve this great honor," says Canadiens great Jean Beliveau, whose No. 4 was retired shortly after his 10th Stanley Cup win in 1971. "They earned it through their hard work. I think both of them were great, great team players so I had the good fortune to play with both of them."

Moore won two NHL scoring titles and six Stanley Cups with Montreal -- including a record five straight along with Beliveau from 1956-60 -- while playing for the Canadiens between 1951-63.

Cournoyer, who was handed Moore's No. 12 as a rookie in 1964, was a member of Cup-winning teams in six of his first nine seasons, the first five with Beliveau as captain.

"I always respected No. 12," says Cournoyer, whose career ended after his 10th championship following two back operations. "There were pictures in the room of people who had played for Montreal and I knew what (Moore) had done before, so I wanted to continue the good work."

Nicknamed "Roadrunner" because of his breakaway speed, Cournoyer captained the Canadiens to four straight titles himself from 1976-79.

"He turned out to be a great hockey player with a lot of achievements," Moore says. "I'm very happy for him. He carried it very, very well."

Cournoyer and Moore played through pain and injuries. Moore, who recalls coach Dick Irvin asking him if he was tough enough to wear two-time Cup winner Murph Chamberlain's number, won his second straight Art Ross Trophy in 1959, leading the league in scoring despite playing the last two months of the season with a cast on his broken hand.

"Another year he had a shoulder problem," Beliveau says. "Those who were there will remember him skating towards the bench and having the trainer replace the shoulder that had come out of its socket. Both of them loved this game. The team record was more important to them than their personal record."

Maple Leafs assistant coach Keith Acton was the first of six players who wore the number following Cournoyer's retirement. Toronto center Darcy Tucker, who wore it in 1997-98, was the last.

Moore particularly enjoyed seeing the number on Mike Keane, who wore No. 12 when Montreal last won the Stanley Cup in 1993.

"I'm not the player of the caliber of Dickie Moore or Yvan Cournoyer, but I just tried to basically not embarrass the number and hopefully I didn't do that," says Keane, who also won Cups with Colorado and Dallas and is now playing with Manitoba of the AHL. "I always felt very special wearing No. 12. It is very cool knowing that a number that I wore is never going to be worn again."

The number is the first in a series that the Canadiens intend to retire during the seasons leading to the franchise's centennial in 2009. The team will retire Bernie Geoffrion's No. 5 before a game against the New York Rangers on March 5.

"I think I'm just starting hockey again, I'm so nervous," says Moore, who shared each of his six Cup wins with Geoffrion. "It's a nerve-wracking position, really, to be honored in such a manner."

In addition to Beliveau, Montreal previously retired Howie Morenz's No. 7, Maurice Richard's No. 9, Henri Richard's No. 16, Guy Lafleur's No. 10, Doug Harvey's No. 2 and Jacques Plante's No. 1.

"It's a dream to play for the Montreal Canadiens, and I made it in my life," Cournoyer said. "Now at the end of the dream you have the ultimate and your number is retired."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press