Claude Provost: An All-Time Great
A Journey into Hockey
Put this in the category of the overlooked.
Remember when Bob Gainey was described by Red Army and Soviet National Team coach Viktor Tikhonov as technically the world’s best hockey player ? Deservedly Bob Gainey is enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
But before Bob Gainey there was Claude Provost.
Provost played 15 years in the National Hockey League – all with the Montreal Canadiens. He won nine Stanley Cups.
But as is the case with Bob Gainey, with Claude Provost statistics do not tell the whole story.
Provost was a complete player. For most of his career, he was best known as a checking forward – mostly because Canadiens were loaded with scorers – how about Maurice Richard, Henri Richard, Beliveau, Geoffrion, Dickie Moore, Lemaire and Cournoyer for starters. In the midpart of his career he scored goals (33 one year) if the team needed scoring.
He was most accomplished in later years as a shadow checker who stymied Bobby Hull without resorting to dirty play.
He was also a team player. A consummate professional.
He was the first winner of the Masterson Trophy.
With his nine Stanley Cups, he is won the most Stanley Cups of anyone who is not a member of Hockey Hall of Fame. Every other player and executive who has won at least 8 Stanley Cups has been named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Younger generations are quick to dismiss his case – as they look only at his scoring numbers. As mentioned above, numbers do not tell the story – except for one: 9 Stanley Cups.