Paul Byron’s Finest Moments With The Montreal Canadiens

In October 2015, the Montreal Canadiens picked up Paul Byron off of waivers from the Calgary Flames. A fan-made video showcasing his blazing speed was convincing enough for the Canadiens’ staff to give him a shot. Eight years later, Byron is retiring from hockey, but not without a solid track record and many moments that have left Habs fans jumping out of their seats.

Not the biggest player on the ice, standing at 5-foot-9, Byron used his footwork and agility to elude the opposition and served as the catalyst for his back-to-back 20-goal seasons. What he lacked in size, he made up for with a ferocious attitude and a heart the size of la belle province. Unfortunately, Byron’s career was cut short due to nagging injuries, leaving the forward to play while in constant pain.

Related: Canadiens’ Paul Byron Retiring to Take Role With Team

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Although his time on the ice is approaching its conclusion, don’t expect Byron to be gone from the game entirely. He’ll likely take on a role with the Canadiens, as he will speak with Kent Hughes in September to decide on an off-ice position with the team. He has expressed that he wishes to stay in Montreal, and a role with the team’s management will keep him there. Until then, here are three moments from Byron’s career that stand out during his time with the Canadiens.

Byron Scores Last Minute Thriller Against Nashville

In a game against the Nashville Predators in 2017, all eyes were on P.K. Subban as he made his return to the Bell Centre for the first time since his trade for Shea Weber. A momentous occasion left Canadiens’ fans giving the defenseman a standing ovation, sparking emotions in both fans and Subban. The game itself wasn’t half bad either, as it was tightly contested and remained in a 1-1 deadlock heading into the late stages of the third period.

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It would have made it to overtime had it not been for a valiant effort made by Byron. Forcing a turnover against Roman Josi with 16 seconds left, Byron pushed the puck up the ice and used his speed to catch up to it before burying it past Pekka Rinne. The goal left Subban and the Predators stunned and the Bell Centre crowd in euphoria. It was a wonderful moment that highlighted everything Byron does right and a culmination of what a hard-working player looks like.

Byron’s First Career Hat Trick

One year after the goal against the Predators, Byron recorded his first career hat trick in a 10-1 thumping against the Detroit Red Wings. He was one of seven players to record at least two points, and the only one to register multiple goals. The game wasn’t much of a contest as the Canadiens out-shot the Red Wings 34-23 and controlled the pace for most of the encounter. Still, Byron’s hand in the Canadiens’ win did not go unnoticed by fans in attendance.

Paul Byron Montreal Canadiens
Paul Byron, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Byron opened the scoring in the first period and completed his hat trick after 40 minutes. Two of his three tallies involved him using his speed to his advantage, putting distance between himself and the Red Wings’ defenders to get a clear break. The Canadiens recorded four more goals in the third period, leading to their most-lopsided victory of the season.

Byron’s Game 1 Shorthanded Goal Against Toronto

Possibly the grandest moment of Byron’s career came in the 2021 Stanley Cup run when the Canadiens reached the Final for the first time since 1993. During Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, captain John Tavares left the game due to an accidental blow to the head caused by a falling Corey Perry. The incident left the arena in stunned silence as Tavares left the ice on a stretcher. With most of the game still remaining, the Canadiens and Maple Leafs had to shake off the cobwebs and compete for the opening-game victory.

With under eight minutes remaining, a turnover forced the puck out of the Canadiens’ zone and became a contested race between Byron and Rasmus Sandin. Despite giving up quite the distance, Byron caught up to the puck before Sandin, fighting off a diving stick check and scoring to put the Canadiens up 2-1. The moment was glorified as Byron managed to hold on to the puck despite stumbling and firing off a rocket while on one knee. The goal served as the game-winner, and the Canadiens took Game 1.

There are certainly more moments in Byron’s career that could make this list, including his top-shelf blazer on Robin Lehner in the third round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. These three plays are some of the best examples of how tenacious and determined Byron was during his time in Montreal and how effective of a player he could be in big moments.

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