The 1970-71 NHL season was the 54th season of the National Hockey League. Fourteen teams each played 78 games (six games against each opponent). Two new teams, the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks made their debuts and were both put into the East Division. The Chicago Black Hawks were moved to the West Division. Prior to the start of the season, the Oakland Seals were renamed California Golden Seals. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup by beating the Black Hawks in seven games in the finals. From this season through the 2002-03 season, teams wore their white jerseys at home and their dark jerseys on the road.
This season saw a marked increase in goal scoring, especially by the Boston Bruins, who shattered dozens of scoring records as they set the mark for most goals by a team (399) by nearly a hundred over the previous record holder. They also set records for most victories (57) and points (121). Phil Esposito set records for most goals in a season with 76 and for most points with 152. Defenceman Bobby Orr won his second consecutive Hart Trophy and set a new record for assists with 102. The Bruins also had the four league leading scorers, the first time in history this was achieved (the only other time being by the Bruins in 1974), and seven of the top ten leading scorers, the only time in NHL history this has ever been achieved.
Boston won the East Division championship in a runaway. In the West Division, the powerful Chicago Black Hawks had been moved there partially to accommodate the expansion Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks (both of which were placed in the East Division) but more in an effort to provide greater balance between the divisions. Chicago broke St. Louis' stranglehold over the division, winning handily over the Blues and advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.
The Montreal Canadiens, who missed the playoffs in 1969-70, appeared to be sinking once more. Players did not like Claude Ruel's dictatorial rule as coach, and Ralph Backstrom and John Ferguson retired. Ruel resigned and Al MacNeil took over. Both Ferguson and Backstrom returned, but Backstrom was later traded to Los Angeles for draft choices.
The Vancouver Canucks played well at first and were around the .500 mark at mid-season. Then Orland Kurtenbach was injured and the team sagged.
On October 29th, Gordie Howe became the first player to record 1000 assists in a 5-3 win over Boston at the Detroit Olympia.
Detroit introduced a fine rookie goaltender, Jim Rutherford, who had bright moments despite the Red Wings last place finish. However, they suffered their worst defeat in franchise history January 2nd, when Toronto crushed them 13-0.
On March 12th, Boston's Phil Esposito broke Bobby Hull's record for goals by a player in a season at 7:03 of the first period on Denis DeJordy of Los Angeles at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Then, at 15:40 he became the first player to score 60 goals. The Bruins won 7-2.
Buffalo had a star, Gilbert Perreault, who on March 18th broke Nels Stewart's (and Danny Grant's, and Norm Ferguson's) rookie record with his 35th goal in a 5-3 win over St. Louis. He went on to finish the season with 38.
Billy Taylor and Don Gallinger, now middle-aged, were finally forgiven for their gambling in 1948 and were reinstated to the NHL. However, they did not return to the NHL.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold
|New York Rangers||78||49||18||11||109||259||177||952|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||78||37||33||8||82||248||211||1133|
|Detroit Red Wings||78||22||45||11||55||209||308||988|
|Chicago Black Hawks||78||49||20||9||107||277||184||1280|
|St. Louis Blues||78||34||25||19||87||223||208||1092|
|Minnesota North Stars||78||28||34||16||72||191||223||898|
|Los Angeles Kings||78||25||40||13||63||239||303||775|
|California Golden Seals||78||20||53||5||45||199||320||937|
|Phil Esposito||Boston Bruins||78||76||76||152||71|
|Bobby Orr||Boston Bruins||78||37||102||139||91|
|John Bucyk||Boston Bruins||78||51||65||116||8|
|Ken Hodge||Boston Bruins||78||43||62||105||113|
|Bobby Hull||Chicago Black Hawks||78||44||52||96||32|
|Norm Ullman||Toronto Maple Leafs||73||34||51||85||24|
|Wayne Cashman||Boston Bruins||77||21||58||79||100|
|John McKenzie||Boston Bruins||65||31||46||77||120|
|Dave Keon||Toronto Maple Leafs||76||38||38||76||4|
|Jean Beliveau||Montreal Canadiens||70||25||51||76||40|
|Fred Stanfield||Boston Bruins||75||24||52||76||12|
A significant controversy arose before the playoffs, where the Minnesota North Stars - having had a substantial lead for third place in the West over the Philadelphia Flyers - lost several games in a row to finish in 4th place by a single point. It was widely rumored that they did so to avoid playing the far superior Chicago Black Hawks, since at this time in the playoffs the first place team played the third place team and the second played the fourth. Nothing was proven against the North Stars (who defeated their first round opponents, St. Louis, four games to two, while the Flyers were swept by the powerful Black Hawks), but the format was changed the following year to the 1-4/2-3 format that prevailed thereafter.
The Montreal Canadiens were matched against the Boston Bruins, and in one of the most extraordinary upsets in hockey history, Ken Dryden was hot in goal for the Canadiens as the Habs beat the Bears in seven games. In game 4, Bobby Orr became the first defenseman to get a hat trick in a playoff game when Boston won 5-2. The Canadiens' upset was so sensational that the Canadiens nearly suffered a fatal letdown against the Minnesota North Stars, but won the series in six games to advance to the finals. John Ferguson of Montreal openly criticized coach Al MacNeil.
New York beat Toronto, but Bobby Hull and the Chicago Black Hawks were just too much for the Rangers and the Black Hawks advanced to the finals in seven games. Hull won two games with goals on face-offs, despite Glen Sather's coverage of him to check him.
|W4||Minnesota North Stars||2|
|W2||St. Louis Blues||2|
|W4||Minnesota North Stars||4|
|W1||Chicago Black Hawks||3|
|W1||Chicago Black Hawks||4|
|W1||Chicago Black Hawks||4|
|E2||New York Rangers||3|
|E2||New York Rangers||4|
|E4||Toronto Maple Leafs||2|
The 1971 Stanley Cup finals were played by the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Black Hawks. The series went the full seven games, with the Canadiens winning in Chicago despite trailing 2-0 halfway into the second period of game seven. Jacques Lemaire took a shot from centre ice that miraculously escaped goaltender Tony Esposito's notice, cutting the Black Hawks' lead to 2-1. Henri Richard tied the game just before the end of the second period, and scored again 2:34 into the third, giving the Habs the lead. Montreal goalie Ken Dryden kept Chicago off the board for the rest of the game, and the Habs won their third Stanley Cup in four years. It was the final game for Canadien superstar and captain Jean Beliveau, who retired after the season. To date, the Canadiens are the last road team to win a Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final. The only other team to do so were the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs. It was Al MacNeil's final game as Montreal coach — after he had benched Richard for Game 5, The Pocket Rocket declared that "[MacNeil] is the worst coach I ever played for!" Although Richard retracted his "angry comment", as he called it, MacNeil still resigned.
|Prince of Wales Trophy:||Boston Bruins|
|Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:||Chicago Black Hawks|
|Art Ross Memorial Trophy:||Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins|
|Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:||Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers|
|Calder Memorial Trophy:||Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo Sabres|
|Conn Smythe Trophy:||Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens|
|Hart Memorial Trophy:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:||Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins|
|Lester B. Pearson Award:||Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins|
|NHL Plus/Minus Award:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Vezina Trophy:||Eddie Giacomin & Gilles Villemure, New York Rangers|
|Lester Patrick Trophy:||William M. Jennings, John B. Sollenberger, Terrance G. Sawchuk|
|First Team||Position||Second Team|
|Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers||G||Jacques Plante, Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins||D||Brad Park, New York Rangers|
|J.C. Tremblay, Montreal Canadiens||D||Pat Stapleton, Chicago Blackhawks|
|Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins||C||Dave Keon, Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Ken Hodge, Boston Bruins||RW||Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens|
|Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins||LW||Bobby Hull, Chicago Blackhawks|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1970-71 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1970-71 (listed with their last team):
|National Hockey League (2007-08)|
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|New Jersey Devils||Boston Bruins||Atlanta Thrashers||Chicago Blackhawks||Calgary Flames||Anaheim Ducks|
|New York Islanders||Buffalo Sabres||Carolina Hurricanes||Columbus Blue Jackets||Colorado Avalanche||Dallas Stars|
|New York Rangers||Montreal Canadiens||Florida Panthers||Detroit Red Wings||Edmonton Oilers||Los Angeles Kings|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Ottawa Senators||Tampa Bay Lightning||Nashville Predators||Minnesota Wild||Phoenix Coyotes|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Toronto Maple Leafs||Washington Capitals||St. Louis Blues||Vancouver Canucks||San Jose Sharks|
|Seasons (structure) · Stanley Cup (Playoffs–Finals–Champions) · Presidents' Trophy · All-Star Game · Draft · Players (Association) · All-Star Teams · Awards|
|History · Timeline · Defunct teams · NHA · Original Six · 1967 Expansion · WHA · Streaks · Droughts · Hall of Fame (members) · Rivalries · Arenas · Rules · Violence|