Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we take a look at the Montreal Canadiens One-Hit Wonders.
The Montreal Canadiens Top Three One-Hit Wonders
Steve Penney was originally drafted by the Canadiens in the eighth-round, 166th overall in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. He made his Canadiens debut in the 83-84 season where he lost all four regular-season games. However, after head coach Jacques Lemaire was not happy with his current goaltending tandem of Rick Wamsley and Richard Sevigny, the Canadiens recalled Steve Penney from the AHL and made him the club’s starting netminder for the playoffs. This is when the wonder started for the Penney.
Penney’s one-hit season came during the 83-84 playoffs when he became a surprise playoff starter, and he did not disappoint. Penney went on a miraculous run upsetting the Boston Bruins and the Quebec Nordiques to reach the Prince of Wales Conference Finals. There, the Habs played the New York Islanders and took a commanding 2-0 series lead. However, the Islanders stormed back and won the next four eliminating the Canadiens. In 15 games, Penney posted an outstanding goals-against average of 2.21 along with a .910 save percentage to go along with three shutouts.
After The Wonder
It was because of his play in the playoffs that Penney was awarded the starting job for the next season. While he still had a decent season, posting a record of 26-18-8 with a goals-against-average of 3.09 and a save percentage of .876, he just couldn’t rekindle the magic from the previous postseason. Penney and the Habs went on to lose in game seven of the Prince of Wales Semi-Finals to the Quebec Nordiques.
The following season, Penney suffered an injury in January, which allowed Patrick Roy to take over the reins. This would spell the end for Steve Penney with the Canadiens, as Roy took over the crease and carried the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup victory in his rookie season. The Canadiens traded Penney to the Winnipeg Jets in offseason in exchange for Brian Hayward. He went on to play 15 games for the club before he eventually retired.
A native of Timra, Sweden, Kjell Dahlin was selected by the Canadiens in the fourth round, 82nd overall in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. Dahlin would go on to play the next four seasons in the Swedish Elite League, where he would register 66 goals and 50 assists for 96 points in 139 games. Dahlin would make the jump to the NHL for the 85-86 season and boy did he ever impress.
Dahlin had an absolutely outstanding rookie season for the Canadiens. Playing on a line next to fellow countryman Mats Naslund and Bobby Smith, Dahlin was lights out during the first half of the 85-86 season scoring 25 goals. However, his production fell off, as Dahlin only scored seven goals for the remainder of the season. Despite this, the 32 goals he scored that year set a new franchise record for a rookie. He also tied Mats Naslund rookie point scoring record with 71 points in 77 games. Dahlin would be named to the all-rookie team that season and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy, however, lost out in voting to Calgary Flames defenceman Gary Suter. That didn’t matter much to Dahlin though, as he captured an even bigger award, the Stanley Cup that season.
After The Wonder
Dahlin could never come close to matching that production for the rest of the career. He endured two injury-riddled seasons from 86-88 where he would only manage to play a total of 89 games scoring just 25 goals and 20 assists for 45 points. A massive decline in production compared to his rookie season. That would be the end of Dahlin in the NHL, as he made his way back to Sweden to play with Farjestads BK Karlstad. He would spend six seasons with the club before he would eventually retire.
Keith Acton was drafted by the Canadiens in the sixth round, 103rd overall in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft. After being drafted by the Canadiens, Acton spent two years in the AHL playing for the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. There, he accumulated 60 goals and 139 points in 154 games. He made his NHL debut during the 79-80 season where he registered one assist in two games.
Acton’s first full season with the Canadiens came during the 80-81 season. In 61 games, Acton recorded 15 goals and 24 assists for 39 points. He also played in two playoff games for the Canadiens, however, failed to register a point. It was after that season that Acton’s production really boomed.
After spending the first season on the pesky line next Mario Tremblay and Yvon Lambert, Acton was rewarded for his strong offensive abilities and put between two of the Habs best players, Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt. Acton found instant success with his new linemates, leading the Canadiens in points that year with 88 in 78 games. His 36 goals were second to just Mark Napier, who had scored 40 that season. His excellent play was rewarded as he was selected to play in the 1982 all-star game. Acton had some success in the playoffs that year as well, registering four assists in five games. However, the Canadiens were ousted by the Quebec Nordiques.
After The Wonder
The 1981-82 season was by far the best of Acton’s career. Although he’s not your typical one-hit wonder, as he had a respectable career, he just could not find the same magic he has during the 81-82 season. Acton’s production took a massive drop during the 82-83 season where he scored 24 goals and 50 points. Still very respectable, however, a 12 goal and 38 points drop off is quite significant.
After playing nine games with the Canadiens during the 83-84 season, Acton was dealt to the Minnesota North Stars in a deal that brought Bobby Smith to the Canadiens. Acton would go on to score 55 points in 62 games for the North Stars that season. He would then put up back to back 58 point seasons before he saw his production significantly drop off. Acton would end up playing for four more teams including the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders before he would retire after the 93-94 season.