Joined The Montreal Canadiens
Vezina joined the Montreal Canadiens in the fall of 1910, and he would spend his entire professional career with the team. The Canadiens were part of the National Hockey Association (NHA) until 1917, when the league folded. They then joined the NHL in 1917. Before the 1926-27 season, the Stanley Cup was played for by the team that won the NHA/NHL, against whichever team won the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) and/or the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). After Vezina made his debut with the Canadiens on December 31, 1910, he played in 328 straight games, plus an additional 39 playoffs, for 15 seasons until he was forced to leave the game because of illness. During the course of his career, the Canadiens won two NHA league championships, three NHL league championships, and two Stanley Cups.
Vezina's debut with the Canadiens was inauspicious: he lost his first game. Though the Canadiens were not a great team for his first few seasons, in the 1910-11 season, Vezina's goals against average led the five-team NHA. He repeated the feat in the 1911-12 season, when there were only four teams in the league, and Montreal was at the bottom of the standings. Vezina scored his first shutout during the 1912-13 season.
By this time, Vezina had acquired his nickname, "Chicoutimi Cucumber." On the ice, he was known for his gentlemanly play, and his steadiness in goal. Though Vezina did not get excited, he was still very competitive. Because goalies were forced to stand in goal until at least 1919—when the rules were changed because of Clint Benedict, who began dropping to his knees and sitting on the ice to make saves—Vezina's accomplishments in terms of low goals against average even more remarkable. Some believed Vezina was better with his stick than his glove. This was emphasized by his ability to clear the puck, which resulted in few rebounds. Off the ice, Vezina also had an even reputation, not indulging in smoke or drink. He also did not speak much English.