The 1971-72 NHL season was the 55th season of the National Hockey League. Fourteen teams each played 78 games. The Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers four games to two for their second Stanley Cup in three seasons in the finals.
Four players were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this year. They were recently deceased Toronto star Busher Jackson and Detroit legend Terry Sawchuk, oldtimer Gordon Roberts, and ex-Bruin and Senator star Cooney Weiland. Arthur Wirtz, the powerful long-time owner of the Chicago Black Hawks, was inducted as a Builder.
Among notable first year players this season were Montreal's Guy Lafleur, who despite scoring 29 goals was felt lacking in comparison to newly-retired superstar Jean Beliveau by the Canadiens' faithful; Buffalo's Rick Martin, who set a new record for goals by a rookie with 44; Gilles Meloche, goaltender for the hapless California Golden Seals; and Ken Dryden, the sensational new goalie for the Canadiens, who despite winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP the previous season was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year, on the grounds that he had only played six prior regular season games.
43-year-old Gump Worsley, left unprotected (and unclaimed) in the waiver draft by the Minnesota North Stars, led the league with a 2.12 goals against average. Less fortunately, Philadelphia goaltender Bruce Gamble suffered a heart attack during a 3-1 win in Vancouver in February and was forced to retire from hockey.
In what was widely seen as preemptive moves to help forestall the incipient World Hockey Association, the NHL announced that Atlanta and Long Island had been granted expansion franchises to start in the 1972-73 season. The bids had been hastily put together in comparison with the 1967 and 1971 expansions.
Milestones this season included Gerry Cheevers setting an NHL record for the Boston Bruins (which has yet to be surpassed) with 33 straight undefeated games. On February 12, it was Gordie Howe Day in Detroit as his famous #9 was retired. On March 25, Bobby Hull scored his 600th NHL goal in a 5-5 tie with Boston at the Boston Garden.
An exciting scoring race in which Ranger Jean Ratelle had been leading Bruin Phil Esposito was shortcircuited when Ratelle suffered a serious injury costing him over a month of play. Ratelle finished third in scoring behind Esposito and Bruin Bobby Orr, while his teammates Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert finished fourth and fifth. A resurgent Frank Mahovlich, rejuvenated by a trade to Montreal, finished sixth, while Bobby Hull, in his final year in Chicago, finished seventh in points and second to Esposito in goals.
Although they had fallen somewhat from their overwhelming offensive dominance from the previous season, once again the Boston Bruins had the best record in the league and once again the Chicago Black Hawks had the best record in the West Division.
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||48||17||13||109||317||192||1010|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||78||33||31||14||80||209||208||887|
|Detroit Red Wings||78||33||35||10||76||261||262||850|
|Chicago Black Hawks||78||46||17||15||107||256||166||844|
|Minnesota North Stars||78||37||29||12||86||212||191||853|
|St. Louis Blues||78||28||39||11||67||208||247||1150|
|California Golden Seals||78||21||39||18||60||216||288||1007|
|Los Angeles Kings||78||20||49||9||49||206||305||719|
|Phil Esposito||Boston Bruins||76||66||67||133||76|
|Bobby Orr||Boston Bruins||76||37||80||117||106|
|Jean Ratelle||New York Rangers||63||46||63||109||4|
|Vic Hadfield||New York Rangers||78||50||56||106||142|
|Rod Gilbert||New York Rangers||73||43||54||97||64|
|Frank Mahovlich||Montreal Canadiens||76||43||53||96||36|
|Bobby Hull||Chicago Black Hawks||78||59||43||93||24|
|Yvan Cournoyer||Montreal Canadiens||73||47||36||83||15|
|Johnny Bucyk||Boston Bruins||78||32||51||83||4|
|Bobby Clarke||Philadelphia Flyers||78||35||46||81||87|
The New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, before sweeping the Chicago Black Hawks in four straight games in the semifinals. Chicago had beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins in four straight games.
Boston easily handled the Toronto Maple Leafs in five games, facing a St. Louis Blues team that had eked out a hard-fought seven game victory against the North Stars in the quarter finals. The powerful Bruins set a record for the most goals in a four game series by pounding the Blues 28-8 over a four-game sweep.
|E4||Toronto Maple Leafs||1|
|W3||St. Louis Blues||0|
|W2||Minnesota North Stars||3|
|W3||St. Louis Blues||4|
|E2||New York Rangers||2|
|W1||Chicago Black Hawks||4|
|W1||Chicago Black Hawks||0|
|E2||New York Rangers||4|
|E2||New York Rangers||4|
New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins
|April 30||New York Rangers||5||Boston Bruins||6|
|May 2||New York Rangers||1||Boston Bruins||2|
|May 4||Boston Bruins||2||New York Rangers||5|
|May 7||Boston Bruins||3||New York Rangers||2|
|May 9||New York Rangers||3||Boston Bruins||2|
|May 11||Boston Bruins||3||New York Rangers||0|
|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:||Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers|
|Calder Memorial Trophy:||Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens|
|Conn Smythe Trophy:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Hart Memorial Trophy:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:||Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers|
|Lester B. Pearson Award:||Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers|
|NHL Plus/Minus Award:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Vezina Trophy:||Tony Esposito & Gary Smith, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Lester Patrick Trophy:||Clarence S. Campbell, John A. "Snooks" Kelley, Ralph "Cooney" Weiland, James D. Norris|
|First Team||Position||Second Team|
|Tony Esposito, Chicago Blackhawks||G||Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens|
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins||D||Bill White, Chicago Blackhawks|
|Brad Park, New York Rangers||D||Pat Stapleton, Chicago Blackhawks|
|Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins||C||Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers|
|Rod Gilbert, New York Rangers||RW||Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens|
|Bobby Hull, Chicago Blackhawks||LW||Vic Hadfield, New York Rangers|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1971-72 (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 1971-72 listed with their last team):
|1971-72 NHL season by team|
|East||Boston • Buffalo • Detroit • Montreal • NY Rangers • Toronto • Vancouver|
|West||Chicago • Los Angeles • Minnesota • Oakland • Philadelphia • Pittsburgh • St. Louis|
|See also||1971 NHL Entry Draft • All-Star Game • 1972 Stanley Cup Finals|
|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|
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