Robert Michael “Bob” Gainey (December 13, 1953-) played with such intensity and tenacity and possessed some of the greatest defensive skills ever seen in a forward that in 1978 the NHL developed the Frank J. Selke Trophy honoring the league’s top defensive forward. Fittingly, Bob Gainey was the inaugural recipient and won the award the next three seasons (1978-1981). Bob’s blazing speed and strength, tying up the opposition’s top line, gained him notice from Montreal’s front office as a left winger for the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Junior Hockey Association. The Montreal Canadiens selected Gainey with the eighth overall pick of the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft. What Bob lacked in a scoring touch or sniper abilities, he made up for digging in the corners, keeping the opposition’s top forwards off balance, and using his tremendous speed to backcheck and help his defenseman quash scoring chances. He played his entire 16-year career for Les Habitants (1973-1989) missing minimal games throughout his career. From his breakout second season on, he scored 10 or more goals in 14 of 15 seasons including four 20 plus goal years. He also posted 13 of 14 years with 10 or more assists. Gainey and the Habs were stalwarts in the postseason, appearing every year he worn the Montreal jersey.
He played on the high scoring second line with sniper hall of Famers Jacques Lemaire and Yvan Cournoyer. The host of Hall of Famers on the Canadiens lineup guided the Habs to four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1975-1979. In the 1979 playoffs, Gainey enjoyed an uncharacteristic scoring streak as he netted six goals and ten assists, combining that with his defensive prowess, he earned the coveted Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs most valuable player. Gainey and the Canadiens captured the fifth Stanley Cup during his time in Montreal in 1985-86. Though he didn’t necessarily receive the prestigious offensive awards that his contemporaries earned, Gainey was a key component to the success of organization and he was a primary reason for Montreal winning championships during his career. He did, however, earn four trips to the NHL All-Star Game. Bob Gainey finished his career with 239 regular season goals and 262 assists, posting a +196 plus/minus. In postseason play, Gainey added 25 goals and 48 assists in 182 playoff games winning five Stanley Cup championships. Following his playing days, he stepped behind the bench of the Minnesota North Stars for three seasons (1990-1991), and three more as they relocated to become the Dallas Stars (1993-1996). In his first season in Minnesota, he led the North Stars to the Stanley Cup Finals only to fall to the offensively gifted Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. Bob stepped down as coach in 1995 to focus on his general managing duties as he put together a team that won the 1999 Stanley Cup. Bob Gainey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992. He later spent part of two seasons coaching the Canadiens and in total compiled a 194-211-60 coaching record in 472 games as head coach in the NHL.