The 1938-39 NHL season was the 22nd season of the National Hockey League. Seven teams each played 48 games. The Boston Bruins were the Stanley Cup winners as they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs four games to one in the final series.

Regular seasonEdit

Just prior to the start of the 1937-38 season, the league held a meeting to decide the fate of the Maroons. They requested a shift to St. Louis, but this was rejected after considerable discussion. And so, the Montreal Maroons dropped out of the league. They sold most of their players to the Canadiens, and it was evident that the Maroons were through for good. With only seven teams left, the NHL decided to go back to the one division format.

Also prior to the start of the season, the Boston Bruins sold their star goaltender, Tiny Thompson, who had just won a record 4th Vezina Trophy, to the Detroit Red Wings The fans thought Art Ross was crazy,but soon they were applauding rookie Frank Brimsek, would go on to back-stop the Bruins to a first overall finish and a Stanley Cup victory. He wiped out Thompson's shutout sequence record with three consecutive shutouts. He nearly equalled his new record with three more. He ended the season with 10 shutouts, and earned the nickname "Mr.Zero". He also became the first goaltender to win both the Vezina Trophy and Calder Trophy in the same season.

A sad event took place December 7, as Joseph Cattarinich died of a heart attack following an eye operation. Cattarinich was the original goaltender of the Montreal Canadiens when they were formed in 1909. He was 57.

The Montreal Canadiens eroded to the point where Jules Dugal replaced Cecil Hart as manager and coach. Dugal wasn't much better and the Canadiens finished 6th. One bright note was that Toe Blake won the scoring title, however, despite the poor showing of the team.

Chicago, after its Stanley Cup win the previous season, began floundering at mid-season and owner Frederic McLaughlin was displeased. Accordingly, he fired coach Bill Stewart and hired left wing Paul Thompson in his place. But the Black Hawks continued to lose and finished last.

The New York Americans, up in third place at mid-season, proceeded to fall into a big slump in the second half and though they finished 4th, they were below .500 and had the worst defence in the league. Part of the problem was the retirements of Ching Johnson and Hap Day on defence. Al Murray was also out of action for quite a time. Still, goaltender Earl Robertson found himself on the second all-star team.

The NHL instituted the icing rule on March 13, 1939.

Final standingsEdit

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

National Hockey League GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM
Boston Bruins 48 36 10 2 74 156 76 251
New York Rangers 48 26 16 6 58 149 105 393
Toronto Maple Leafs 48 19 20 9 47 114 107 370
New York Americans 48 17 21 10 44 119 157 276
Detroit Red Wings 48 18 24 6 42 107 128 240
Montreal Canadiens 48 15 24 9 39 115 146 294
Chicago Black Hawks 48 12 28 8 32 91 132 367

Scoring leadersEdit

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

Player Team GP G A PTS PIM
Toe Blake Montreal Canadiens 48 24 23 47 10
Sweeney Schriner New York Americans 48 13 31 44 20
Bill Cowley Boston Bruins 34 8 34 42 2
Clint Smith New York Rangers 48 21 20 41 2
Marty Barry Detroit Red Wings 48 13 28 41 4

Leading GoaltendersEdit

Stanley Cup playoffsEdit

see 1939 Stanley Cup Finals

Playoff bracketEdit

  Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
  1  Boston Bruins 4  
    2  New York Rangers 3  
    1  Boston Bruins 4
  3  Toronto Maple Leafs 1
  3  Toronto Maple Leafs 2  
4  New York Americans 0  
3  Toronto Maple Leafs 2
    5  Detroit Red Wings 1  
5  Detroit Red Wings 2

<tr> <td height="14"> </td> <td align=center bgcolor="#f2f2f2" style="border:1px solid #aaa;"> 6</td> <td style="border:1px solid #aaa;" bgcolor=#f9f9f9> Montreal Canadiens</td> <td align=center style="border:1px solid #aaa;" bgcolor=#f9f9f9>1</td> <td style="border-width:2px 0 0 0; border-style:solid;border-color:black;"> </td></tr>

NHL awardsEdit

O'Brien Trophy: Toronto Maple Leafs
Prince of Wales Trophy: Boston Bruins
Calder Memorial Trophy: Frank Brimsek, Boston Bruins
Hart Memorial Trophy: Toe Blake, Montreal Canadiens
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Clint Smith, New York Rangers
Vezina Trophy: Frank Brimsek, Boston Bruins

All-Star teamsEdit

First Team   Position   Second Team
Frank Brimsek, Boston Bruins G Earl Robertson, New York Americans
Eddie Shore, Boston Bruins D Earl Seibert, Chicago Black Hawks
Dit Clapper, Boston Bruins D Art Coulter, New York Rangers
Syl Apps, Toronto Maple Leafs C Neil Colville, New York Rangers
Gordie Drillon, Toronto Maple Leafs RW Bobby Bauer, Boston Bruins
Toe Blake, Montreal Canadiens LW Johnny Gottselig, Chicago Black Hawks
Art Ross, Boston Bruins Coach Red Dutton, New York Americans


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1938-39 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last gamesEdit

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1938-39 (listed with their last team):

See alsoEdit


NHL seasons

1934-35 | 1935-36 | 1936-37 | 1937-38 | 1938-39 | 1939-40 | 1940-41 | 1941-42 | 1942-43

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.