Montreal Canadiens great Elmer Lach dies at 97
Published Saturday, April 4, 2015 11:29AM EDT
Montreal Canadiens great Elmer Lach, who was the oldest living former NHL player, has died at the age of 97.
The Canadiens confirmed Lach's death in a tweet on Saturday.
It is with great sadness that the Canadiens have learned of the passing of Mr. Elmer Lach this morning in Montreal. He was 97 years old.— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 4, 2015
Lach starred on the famous 'Punch' line in the 1940s, playing alongside fellow Canadiens legends Maurice 'Rocket' Richard and Toe Blake. Lach won three Stanley Cups in Montreal and captured the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player in 1945.
He also won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer in 1948.
The native of Nokomis, Sask., made his NHL debut with the Canadiens in 1940 and played 14 seasons in the NHL, racking up 215 goals and 623 points in 664 career regular season games. Those 623 points were enough to make Lach the NHL's all-time leader at the time he retired.
Canadiens broadcaster Dick Irvin Jr. has many fond memories of Lach, who played under coach Dick Irvin Sr. for the entirety of his NHL career.
"He was a tough little guy," Irvin Jr. said. "But he was a wonderful playmaker. He knew what to do with the puck."
Lach took a beating during his 14 seasons in the NHL, racking up several significant injuries, including a broken nose he suffered while celebrating his Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1953. He missed 150 games with injuries during his playing career, including his entire sophomore season.
He is the 11th-highest scorer in Canadiens history.
Lach was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. More than four decades later, the Canadiens retired Lach's No. 16 in a ceremony marking the team's 100th anniversary.
Lach's first wife, Kay, died in 1985. His second wife, Lise Dejardins, passed away in 2014.
He had two daughters.