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Former Montreal Canadiens defenceman Jean-Guy Talbot dead at 91

MONTREAL — Jean-Guy Talbot, one of 12 Montreal Canadiens players to win five consecutive Stanley Cups between 1956 and 1960, has died. He was 91 years old.

The Canadiens announced Talbot's death Friday morning after multiple media outlets reported the news. A cause of death was not given.

Don Marshall, also 91 years old, is the only survivor of this prestigious group.

"(Talbot) with Guy Lapointe, it would have been hell in the locker room," said Canadiens great Yvan Cournoyer, a teammate at different times with the two players who earned a reputation for lightening up the mood within the team.

"He was a prankster, a 'bon vivant.' I had the chance to win two Stanley Cups with Jean-Guy. Winning seven Stanley Cups, Jean-Guy was an excellent hockey player. For a coach, he was the ideal player because he didn't need to shout to motivate him."

Born in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Que., on July 11, 1932, Talbot played 17 NHL seasons with five teams between 1954 and 1971.

Talbot also served as head coach of the St. Louis Blues from 1972 to 1974, and the New York Rangers in 1977-78. He held similar positions in the now-defunct World Hockey Association for 41 games in 1975-76.

During his playing career, Talbot produced 285 points, including 43 goals, and 1,014 penalty minutes in 1,066 games. He also played in 151 playoff games with the Canadiens and the Blues, collecting 30 points and 142 penalty minutes.

In 801 games with the Canadiens between 1954 and 1967, he recorded 36 goals and 245 points and had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup twice more in 1965 and 1966.

He had his best individual season in 1961-62 with five goals and 47 points in 70 games to earn him his only selection to the NHL's first all-star team.

That same season, he finished third in Norris Trophy voting as best defenceman behind former teammate Doug Harvey, then with the Rangers, and Chicago's Pierre Pilote.

After losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1967 Stanley Cup final, the Canadiens left Talbot unprotected in the NHL expansion draft as the league welcomed six new teams that fall.

"I was expecting it, I had been warned," Talbot said in 2019. "I was one of the oldest defencemen on the team, and the Canadiens already had (Jacques) Laperrière and Jean-Claude Tremblay."

Talbot was claimed by the Minnesota North Stars but only played four games with the team before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings.

After 32 games with the Red Wings, Talbot was placed on waivers and claimed by the Blues, then coached by Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman, on Jan. 13, 1968.

In St. Louis, Talbot reunited with former Canadiens teammates Harvey, Dickie Moore and goalie Jacques Plante, all of whom played key roles in Montreal's late-1950s dynasty.

Talbot helped the Blues reach the Stanley Cup final in three straight seasons. However, the team was swept on each occasion, twice against the Canadiens and once against the Boston Bruins.

He was on the ice for Bobby Orr's famous Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal, when No. 4 soared through the air while scoring on May 10, 1970, at the Boston Garden.

"These aren't bad memories. We knew we wouldn't win a single one," Talbot said in 2019, while laughing, of the three Stanley Cup defeats.

"I used to tell the guys, 'You know we can't beat them. It's impossible. We'll work hard, we can give them a hard time, and we'll see how it goes. We'll have fun, though. They won't have fun," he added about the Bruins.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2024.

Michel Lamarche, The Canadian Press