Ice Hockey Wiki

The 1936-37 NHL season was the 20th season of the National Hockey League. Eight teams each played 48 games. The Detroit Red Wings were the Stanley Cup winners as they beat the New York Rangers three games to two in the final series.

League Business

Frank Calder had been naming the top rookies commencing with 1932-33. This year, he commenced buying a trophy for the top rookie and Syl Apps was this year's winner.

The Great Depression had been taking its toll on the NHL. At the beginning of the decade, there were ten teams. Since then, two teams folded and it looked like the New York Americans were to become the third team. The NHL, however, was not about to let that happen. So, instead of letting the team fold because of money and ownership problems, the league assumed control of the team for the 1936-37 season. It was then that owner Bill Dwyer sued. A settlement then allowed for Dwyer to own the team, run by the NHL, and that Dwyer would be given a chance to pay back his debts.

The Montreal Maroons, short of money, had to sell their star and team captain Hooley Smith to the Boston Bruins. It was hoped that Carl Voss of the Eagles would fill in adequately for him, but he came down with influenza and never was much help. But Bob Gracie started scoring and the Maroons almost nipped the Canadiens for first place in the Canadian Division.


Training camps were held in the following locations:

Regular Season


Lorne Carr scores the winner, November 15, 1936.

The New York Americans had started in first place, but then their players came down with influenza and the team sagged. Scorer Nels Stewart was acquired from the Boston Bruins and despite scoring a point a game, the Americans continued to slide and won only once in December. Disaster struck during the 7-1 loss on January 5, 1937 to the New York Rangers when goalie Roy Worters suffered a hernia and had to retire. Alfie Moore and Lorne Chabot were not adequate replacements and the Amerks finished last in the Canadian Division.

Example of the Maple Leafs defensive style, December 22, 1936.

On November 17, 1936, Art Ross sent an open letter to the NHL's general managers encouraging them to play "open hockey" with an emphasis on speed and clean play. He offered to pay $1000 to any team if the Bruins didn't play this style against them as long they agreed to the same penalty. Ross rival Conn Smythe refused the open hockey challenge and after the December 22 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was marred by boring defensive hockey, in retaliation, Ross promised "if they want defensive hockey, we'll give them an overdose of it." [1] Good to his word, the Bruins surrounded their own net and barely attacked during the December 26 re-match in Toronto and won 2-1. Habs coach Cecil Hart was a convert to "open hockey" and praised Boston's play as a "thrill a second" and "the league's greatest road attraction." He advocated the Bruins transfer to the Canadian Division and said they'd save hockey in Montreal. [2]

The Montreal Canadiens had hit the bottom in 1935-36, and Babe Siebert was obtained to shore up the defence. But the most loved of all movements was buying Howie Morenz back from the Rangers. The Canadiens went from last to first in the Canadian Division. Morenz was just hitting his stride in January of 1937, when tragedy struck. On one of his hurtling rushes, he was being checked by Earl Seibert of Chicago when his left skate got caught in the dasher of the end boards, and Morenz suffered a badly fractured leg. After suffering a nervous breakdown worrying about if he'd be able to come back, more bad luck occurred. On March 8, 1937, X-rays revealed that Howie had blood clots in his healing leg. An operation was scheduled for the next day, but when Howie ate a light supper and told the nurse he wanted to rest, in falling asleep his pallor suddenly changed and the nurse knew something was wrong. A blood clot had stopped his heart, and attempts to revive Howie failed. News of Morenz's death shocked the hockey world, and thousands filed past his bier, many in tears, to pay their last respects to the man who made the NHL a truly major league.

Detroit, led by Vezina Trophy winning Normie Smith, finished first in the American Division. The NHL lost greats in one way or the other this year. Boston's Eddie Shore suffered a broken back, and Toronto favourite King Clancy retired. But Toronto's biggest loss occurred when Charlie Conacher injured his wrist. He was never the same again.

Clem Loughlin, Mike Karakas, Ernest Klingbeil, Bun LaPrairie, Milton Brink, Al Suomi and Paul Schaefer before the last game of the season, March 21, 1937.

With five games left to play and his team hopelessly in last place, Chicago owner Frederic McLaughlin decided to try an experiment dear to his heart. He dreamed of the day that an all-American team might be able to compete at NHL calibre. He already had Mike Karakas in goal, but added Ernest Klingbeil and Paul Schaefer on defence, and Milton Brink, a fast skating center, between Al Suomi and Bun LaPrairie. The first test came on March 11 when the Boston Bruins beat the Black Hawks 6-2. None of the new players scored, but Klingbeil and Schaefer were on defence for all Boston goals. This brought complaints from Jack Adams, Lester Patrick and Art Ross who stated that such experiments should not be conducted when the other clubs were battling for playoff spots. But McLaughlin's kids didn't look bad when the Toronto Maple Leafs were lucky to win 3-2 at Maple Leaf Gardens. Klingbeil was the star of the game with a goal. The rookies checked tenaciously and at times were impressive on the attack. 9,600 fans applauded their effort. Then the Black Hawks beat the New York Rangers 3-2 with the Yanks still in the lineup. Lester Patrick had nothing to say except that the attendance had dropped. The experiment was about finished when the New York Americans walloped the Hawks 9-4, as Sweeney Schriner and Nels Stewart each had hat tricks. In a losing cause, Paul Thompson had a hat trick for Chicago.

Final Standings

Canadian Division
Montreal Canadiens 48 24 18 6 115 111 54
Montreal Maroons 48 22 17 9 126 110 53
Toronto Maple Leafs 48 22 21 5 119 115 49
New York Americans 48 15 29 4 122 161 34

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.

American Division
Detroit Red Wings 48 25 14 9 128 102 59
Boston Bruins 48 23 18 7 120 110 53
New York Rangers 48 19 20 9 117 106 47
Chicago Black Hawks 48 14 27 7 99 131 35

Scoring Leaders

Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Sweeney Schriner New York Americans 48 21 25 46 17
Syl Apps Toronto Maple Leafs 48 16 29 45 10
Marty Barry Detroit Red Wings 48 17 27 44 6
Larry Aurie Detroit Red Wings 45 23 20 43 20
Busher Jackson Toronto Maple Leafs 46 21 19 40 12
Johnny Gagnon Montreal Canadiens 48 20 16 36 38
Bob Gracie Montreal Maroons 47 11 25 36 18
Nels Stewart Boston Bruins/New York Americans 43 23 12 35 37
Paul Thompson Chicago Black Hawks 47 17 18 35 28
Bill Cowley Boston Bruins 46 13 22 35 4

Leading Goaltenders

Note: GP = Games played; Mins – Minutes played; GA = Goals against; GAA = Goals against average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts

Player Team GP Mins GA W L T SO GAA
Normie Smith Detroit Red Wings 48 2980 102 25 14 9 6 2.05
Dave Kerr New York Rangers 48 3030 106 19 20 9 4 2.10
Wilf Cude Montreal Canadiens 44 2730 99 22 17 5 5 2.18
Bill Beveridge Montreal Maroons 21 1290 47 12 6 3 1 2.19
Alec Connell Montreal Maroons 27 1710 63 10 11 6 2 2.21
Tiny Thompson Boston Bruins 48 2970 110 23 18 7 6 2.22
Turk Broda Toronto Maple Leafs 45 2780 106 22 19 4 3 2.29
Mike Karakas Chicago Black Hawks 48 2978 131 14 27 7 5 2.64
Roy Worters New York Americans 23 1430 69 6 14 3 2 2.90
Alfie Moore New York Americans 18 1100 64 7 11 0 1 3.49
Lorne Chabot New York Americans 6 370 25 2 3 1 1 4.05

Stanley Cup Playoffs

see: 1937 Stanley Cup Finals

Playoff Bracket

  Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
  C1  Montreal Canadiens 1  
    A1  Detroit Red Wings 3  
    A1  Detroit Red Wings 3
  A2  New York Rangers 2
  C2  Toronto Maple Leafs 1  
A2  New York Rangers 2  
A3  Montreal Maroons 0
    A2  New York Rangers 2  
C3  Montreal Maroons 2
  A3  Boston Bruins 1  

Montreal Maroons 2, Boston Bruins 1

Carl Voss scores, Game 1 of the 1937 Quarter-finals, March 23, 1937.

The last playoff series win for the Montreal Maroons saw them defeat the Boston Bruins 2-1 in a best of three first round series. The Bruins were without all-star defenseman Eddie Shore who was sidelined with a cracked vertebrae as well as Bun Cook and Sylvio Mantha.

Game 1 at Montreal was dominated by the Maroons who went ahead 2-0 on goals by Carl Voss and Baldy Northcott before Jack Beattie cut the lead to 2-1. Late third period goals by Herb Cain and Bob Gracie sealed a 4-1 victory. Dit Clapper received a major penalty for fighting Dave Trottier after the latter butt-ended him in the head. After referee Clarence Campbell insulted Clapper, he punched Campbell.

Tiny Thompson stops Lionel Conacher's penalty shot, Game 2 of the 1937 Quarter-finals, March 26, 1937.

Game 2 at Boston saw the Maroons without first-liner Dave Trottier, whose eye was swollen shut after his fight with Dit Clapper in Game 1. Clapper was fined $100 but not suspended for any games. Lionel Conacher took a minor penalty in the first period after a viscous cross-check in which he broke Leroy Goldsworthy's nose. Dit Clapper scored on the power play at 4:54 before Charlie Sands made it 2-0 at 15:42 after his blueline blast deflected in off Maroons defenseman Stewart Evans. In the second period, Conacher was awarded a penalty shot after Bruins goalie Tiny Thompson tripped him in a goalmouth melee. Thompson made a brilliant skate save to preserve his shutout which was the turning point in the game. Ray Getliffe scored soon after on a rebound of a Bill Cowley shot and Goldsworthy returned to action with plaster over his nose. In the third period, captain Red Beattie beat goalie Bill Beveridge with a slapshot as the Bruins won 4-0 and tied the series.

Bruins-Maroons action, Game 2 of the 1937 Quarter-finals, March 26, 1937.

Game 3 at Boston saw Bobby Bauer play his first post season match. The first period was scoreless in which Tiny Thompson's hand was cut in a goalmouth scramble. The game was delayed for 12 minutes while Thompson received stitches. In the second period, the Bruins took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Dit Clapper. After Thompson made a save, he accidentally batted the puck into his own net at 15:49. Rattled, he misplayed a Russ Blinco shot, making it 2-1 for the Maroons. The Maroons added two more in the last frame to take the series 2 games to 1. They'd lose their second round series to the New York Rangers.

# Date Visitor Score Home Record
1 March 23 Boston Bruins 1-4 Montreal Maroons 0-1
2 March 26 Montreal Maroons 0-4 Boston Bruins 1-1
3 March 28 Montreal Maroons 4-1 Boston Bruins 2-1

NHL Awards

O'Brien Trophy: Montreal Canadiens
Prince of Wales Trophy: Detroit Red Wings
Calder Memorial Trophy: Syl Apps, Toronto Maple Leafs
Hart Memorial Trophy: Babe Siebert, Montreal Canadiens
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Marty Barry, Detroit Red Wings
Vezina Trophy: Normie Smith, Detroit Red Wings

All-Star Teams

First Team   Position   Second Team
Normie Smith, Detroit Red Wings G Wilf Cude, Montreal Canadiens
Babe Siebert, Montreal Canadiens D Earl Seibert, Chicago Black Hawks
Ebbie Goodfellow, Detroit Red Wings D Lionel Conacher, Montreal Maroons
Marty Barry, Detroit Red Wings C Art Chapman, New York Americans
Larry Aurie, Detroit Red Wings RW Cecil Dillon, New York Rangers
Busher Jackson, Toronto Maple Leafs LW Sweeney Schriner, New York Americans
Jack Adams, Detroit Red Wings Coach Cecil Hart, Montreal Canadiens


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1936-37 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last Games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1936-37 (listed with their last team):



Fascinating video of December 20, 1936 game between the Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens. After a goalless first period, goals by Joffre Desilets and Aurel Joliat put the Habs up 2-0 going into the third. One of two Lynn Patrick goals that tied the game up in the third period is shown. The game went into overtime which was not sudden death. The Rangers scored three times, with the final goal by Frank Boucher shown. Toe Blake added a consolation goal and the Rangers won 5-3 (OT).

Highlights of the April 1, 1937 Stanley Cup Semi-finals Game 1 in which the New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Maroons 1-0 on a first period goal by Babe Pratt.

See Also


NHL Seasons

1932-33 | 1933-34 | 1934-35 | 1935-36 | 1936-37 | 1937-38 | 1938-39 | 1939-40 | 1940-41

  1. Boston Globe, p.8, December 24, 1936.
  2. Boston Globe, p.20, February 3, 1937.