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.
- 1 League Business
- 2 Pre-season
- 3 Regular Season
- 4 Stanley Cup Playoffs
- 5 NHL Awards
- 6 All-Star Teams
- 7 Debuts
- 8 Last Games
- 9 Gallery
- 10 Video
- 11 See Also
- 12 References
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:
- Boston Bruins - Boston
- Chicago Black Hawks - Hibbing, Minnesota
- Detroit Red Wings - Detroit
- Montreal Canadiens - Montreal
- Montreal Maroons - Montreal
- New York Americans - Oshawa, Ontario
- New York Rangers - Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Toronto Maple Leafs - Galt & Preston, Ontario
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.
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."  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. 
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.
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.
|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.
|Detroit Red Wings||48||25||14||9||128||102||59|
|New York Rangers||48||19||20||9||117||106||47|
|Chicago Black Hawks||48||14||27||7||99||131||35|
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|
Note: GP = Games played; Mins – Minutes played; GA = Goals against; GAA = Goals against average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts
|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
|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|
|A2||New York Rangers||2|
Montreal Maroons 2, Boston Bruins 1
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.
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.
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.
|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|
|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|
|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):
- Bobby Bauer, Boston Bruins
- Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins
- Clint Smith, New York Rangers
- Bryan Hextall, New York Rangers
- Syl Apps, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Gordie Drillon, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Turk Broda, Toronto Maple Leafs
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):
- Bun Cook, Boston Bruins
- Sylvio Mantha, Boston Bruins
- Andy Blair, Chicago Black Hawks
- Wildor Larochelle, Chicago Black Hawks
- Howie Morenz, Montreal Canadiens
- George Hainsworth, Montreal Canadiens
- Lionel Conacher, Montreal Maroons
- Alex Connell, Montreal Maroons
- Baldy Cotton, New York Americans
- Harry Oliver, New York Americans
- Lorne Chabot, New York Americans
- Roy Worters, New York Americans
- Bill Cook, New York Rangers
- Murray Murdoch, New York Rangers
- King Clancy, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Frank Finnigan, Toronto Maple Leafs
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.
|1936–37 NHL season by team|
|Canadian||Montreal Canadiens • Montreal Maroons • NY Americans • Toronto|
|American||Boston • Chicago • Detroit • NY Rangers|
|See also||1937 Stanley Cup Finals|
|National Hockey League|
|Structure||Playoffs (Streaks • Droughts • All-time playoff series) • Conference Finals • Finals|
|Annual events||Seasons • Stanley Cup (Champions • Winning players • Traditions and anecdotes) • Presidents' Trophy • All-Star Game • Draft • Awards • All-Star Teams|
|Players||List of players • Association • Retired jersey numbers • Captains|
|History||Lore • Organizational changes :: • Defunct teams • NHA • Original Six • 1967 Expansion • WHA Merger • Lockouts|
|Others||Outdoor games (Winter Classic • Heritage Classic • Stadium Series) • Potential expansion • Hall of Fame (Members) • Rivalries • Arenas • Rules • Fighting • Violence : International games • Kraft Hockeyville • Collective bargaining agreement • Television and radio coverage|
|Category • 2019–20 Season • 2020–21 Season • 2021–22 Season|
- Boston Globe, p.8, December 24, 1936.
- Boston Globe, p.20, February 3, 1937.