Why Are the Montreal Canadiens Called the Habs?

Check out other team trivia about hockey's longest running team

The Edmonton 'Oilers' take on the Montreal 'Canadiens' in a game of ice hockey in the Bell Centre stadium.
Glenn Van Der Knijff / Getty Images

The National Hockey League team the Montreal Canadiens were founded in 1909 and are the longest continuously operating professional ice hockey team worldwide. Players and fans are often called "the Habs," which is believed to stem from the abbreviation of les habitants, meaning "the habitants."

Les habitants is the informal name given in the 17th century to the original settlers of "New France," which were the French territories in North America.

At its peak in 1712 the territory of New France, also sometimes known as the French North American Empire or Royal New France, extended from Newfoundland to the Canadian prairies and from Hudson Bay south to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, including all the Great Lakes of North America.

Other nicknames for the Canadiens include French monikers such as Les Canadiens, Le Bleu-Blanc-RougeLa Sainte-FlanelleLe TricoloreLes GlorieuxLe CH and Le Grand Club.

Habs Might Be an Erroneous Nickname

The "Habs" nickname might have been the result of an error in 1924. The first man to refer to the team as "the Habs" was Tex Rickard, owner of Madison Square Garden. Rickard apparently told a reporter that the "H" in the logo on the Canadiens' jerseys was for "Habitants," which is not true. The distinctive C-wrapped-around-H logo stands for the hockey teams ' official name, the "Club de Hockey Canadien." The "H" stands for "hockey."

Logo Changes

The current CHC logo was not the official logo until 1914. The original shirt of the 1909–10 season was blue with a white C.

The second season the team had a red shirt featuring a green maple leaf with a C logo and green pants. The season before adopting the current look, the Canadiens wore a "barber pole" design jersey with red, white and blue stripes, and the logo being a white maple leaf reading "CAC," which stood for "Club athlétique Canadien."

To commemorate their history, In the 2009-2010 season as the team was celebrating its centenary, the players featured the early logos on their jerseys.

Other Fun Facts About the Habs

The Canadiens are the only existing hockey team to predate the founding of the NHL. The Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup more times than any other franchise. The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups.

Although the team has been fondly referred to as the Habs for nearly 100 years, the team had not had a mascot until the 2004 NHL season when the Canadiens adopted Youppi! as their official mascot. Youppi! had been the longtime mascot for the Montreal Expos until the franchise moved to Washington, D.C. in 2004 and became the Washington Nationals.

This switch was historic, Youppi! was the first mascot in a professional sport to switch leagues. Youppi is a bright orange furball of a monster that was created by a division of the Jim Henson puppet company. The same designer for the mascot was the same person who designed Miss Piggy of Muppet fame.