Habs’ great Elmer Lach dies at 97

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Canadiens legend Elmer Lach, who was the center between Maurice Richard and Toe Blake on the famous Punch Line, has died at the age of 97.

He was the oldest living member of the Canadiens.

According to Dave Stubbs of The Montreal Gazette, Lach passed away due to complications from a stroke suffered last weekend.

“Every member of the Canadiens organization is profoundly saddened and touched by the death of Mr. Lach. Elmer Lach was a determined player who enjoyed a great career with the Canadiens and who became an important part of the community in Montreal. On behalf of the Molson family and all members of the organization, I offer my sincere condolences to the members of his family,” said Canadiens president, Geoff Molson in a statement.

Lach won Stanley Cups with the Canadiens in 1944, 1946 and 1953. He won the Hart Trophy following the 1944-45 season, which saw him register 26 goals and 80 points in 50 games.

Lach retired following the 1953-54 season as the league’s all-time leader in points with 623 – a record currently held by Wayne Gretzky (2,857).

Commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement:

The National Hockey League deeply mourns the passing of Elmer Lach — center on Montreal’s legendary ‘Punch Line’ with Toe Blake and Maurice Richard, owner of the sole assist on Richard’s 50th goal in 50 games in 1944-45 and someone who, at 97 years of age, was just a few months younger than the League itself. The League sends heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this three-time Stanley Cup champion, two-time scoring champion and 1945 Hart Trophy winner.

The Nokomis, Saskatchewan native was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.