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The 1945-46 NHL season was the 29th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 50 games. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.

League Business

Synchronized red lights to signal goals were made obligatory for all NHL rinks. Players were also required to wear elbow pads under the jersey.

It was rumoured in the press that Lester Patrick planned to retire as general manager of the New York Rangers. On February 22, 1946, he announced his retirement from the general manager position, however he would stay on as vice president of Madison Square Garden.

Regular Season

Bill Shill scores during the Leafs home opener, October 27, 1945.

The Boston Bruins were part of a special home opener for the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 27, 1945. Six winners of the Victoria Cross were in attendance and the puck drop was conducted by "Smokey" Smith. Fittingly, the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Veterans came back to their teams this year, as World War II ended, but many found they could not regain their form. One who did regain his form was the man formerly known as "Mr. Zero" — Boston Bruins' goaltender Frank Brimsek. He was shelled in an 8-3 contest with Chicago, but got better game by game. The Bruins had first place at one point, then finished second. Brimsek made the Second All-Star Team as a result.

Max Bentley of Chicago led the league in scoring, and, because of the "Pony Line" including him, his brother Doug and Bill Mosienko, the Black Hawks were in first place at one point. But misfortune hit the Black Hawks when Doug Bentley injured his knee in a January 23 game and the team sagged.

Don Gallinger and Herb Cain of the Bruins battle Chicago goalie Mike Karakas, March 17, 1946.

Frank Patrick, former Pacific Coast Hockey Association president and former managing director for the NHL, suffered a heart attack and was not released from the hospital for several weeks.

A news bombshell exploded on January 30, 1946 when Leafs defenceman Babe Pratt was expelled from the NHL for betting on games. However, he only bet on his own team and appealed his expulsion. On his promise he would not bet on any more games, he was reinstated. Pratt missed 9 games during his suspension.

Maple Leaf Gaye Stewart led the league in goals with 37, but Toronto finished fifth and missed the playoffs.

Bill Durnan equalled George Hainsworth's record of three consecutive Vezina Trophies and led the league in shutouts with 4.

Final Standings

National Hockey League
Montreal Canadiens 50 28 17 5 61 172 134 337
Boston Bruins 50 24 18 8 56 167 156 273
Chicago Black Hawks 50 23 20 7 53 200 178 339
Detroit Red Wings 50 20 20 10 50 146 159 298
Toronto Maple Leafs 50 19 24 7 45 174 185 247
New York Rangers 50 13 28 9 35 144 191 285

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

Scoring Leaders

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

Max Bentley Chicago Black Hawks 47 31 30 61 6
Gaye Stewart Toronto Maple Leafs 50 37 15 52 8
Toe Blake Montreal Canadiens 50 29 21 50 2
Clint Smith Chicago Black Hawks 50 26 24 50 2
Bill Mosienko Chicago Black Hawks 40 18 30 48 12
Maurice Richard Montreal Canadiens 50 27 21 48 50

Leading Goaltenders

Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts

Player Team GP MIN GA GAA W L T SO
Bill Durnan Montreal Canadiens 40 2400 104 2.60 24 11 5 4
Paul Bibeault Boston/Montreal 26 1560 75 2.88 12 10 4 2
Harry Lumley Detroit Red Wings 50 3000 159 3.18 20 20 10 2
Frank Brimsek Boston Bruins 34 2040 111 3.26 16 14 4 2
Mike Karakas Chicago Black Hawks 48 2880 166 3.46 22 19 7 1
Turk Broda Toronto Maple Leafs 15 900 53 3.53 6 6 3 0
Frank McCool Toronto Maple Leafs 22 1320 81 3.68 10 9 3 0
Chuck Rayner New York Rangers 40 2377 149 3.76 12 21 7 1
Jim Henry New York Rangers 11 623 42 4.04 1 7 2 1

Stanley Cup Playoffs

see 1946 Stanley Cup Finals

Playoff Bracket

Semifinals Finals
1 Montreal Canadiens 4
3 Chicago Black Hawks 0
1 Montreal Canadiens 4
2 Boston Bruins 1
2 Boston Bruins 4
4 Detroit Red Wings 1

Boston Bruins 4, Detroit Red Wings 1

Meeting for the 5th time in the last six years in the playoffs, the Bruins would overcome the Wings in five games to avenge losing the previous three series. The return of the Kraut Line from war service saw them score half the Bruins goals in the series and Frank Brimsek out dueled Wings goalie Harry Lumley.

Game 1 saw the home town Bruins jump out to a 2-0 first period lead on a Shorthanded goal by defenseman Pat Egan and rookie Bill Shill. Harry Watson responded for the Wings in the second but Brimsek shut the door and Bep Guidolin sealed a 3-1 win for the Bruins.

Game 2 featured shutout play by Wings goalie Lumley. Pat Lundy opened the scoring at 7:32 of the first period on a breakaway. However, he crashed into the crossbar after scoring, separated his shoulder and was lost for the rest of the playoffs. Jim Conacher scored nearly six minutes after Lundy and and Watson's second of the series late in the third period led the Wings to a 3-0 win, tying the series 1-1.

Game 3 shifted the series to the Detroit Olympia where the Kraut Line dominated with a pair of goals each by Milt Schmidt and Woody Dumart plus a marker by Egan. Two late third period goals by the Wings Fern Gauthier and Carl Liscombe weren't enough as the Bruins won 5-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4 was a very clean game with only one penalty in which the Kraut Line continued to produce on first period goals by Dumart and Bobby Bauer. After a scoreless second period, Bep Guidolin's 2nd of the series saw the Bruins up 3-0. Fern Gauthier responded but a goal by the Bruins Terry Reardon sank any hopes of a comeback. The Bruins outshot the Wings 35-19, won 4-1 and took a 3-1 stranglehold on the series.

Game 5 saw the series back in the Boston Garden where first period goals by Bauer and Guidolin put the Bruins up 2-0. Gauthier responded in the second period but Reardon tallied early in the third. The Wings mounted a furious comeback with a goal by Adam Brown and then Ed Bruneteau tied it up in the last minute, sending the game into overtime. The Bruins survived a penalty in OT by Egan and Don Gallinger was the hero with the winner at 9:51 on a solo rush that began behind the Bruins net and ended when he split the Wings defense and fired a shot home.

# Date Visitor Score Home Record
1 March 19 Detroit Red Wings 1-3 Boston Bruins 0-1
2 March 21 Detroit Red Wings 3-0 Boston Bruins 1-1
3 March 24 Boston Bruins 5-2 Detroit Red Wings 2-1
4 March 26 Boston Bruins 4-1 Detroit Red Wings 3-1
5 March 28 Detroit Red Wings 3-4 (OT) Boston Bruins 1-4

NHL Awards

O'Brien Trophy: Boston Bruins
Prince of Wales Trophy: Montreal Canadiens
Calder Memorial Trophy: Edgar Laprade, New York Rangers
Hart Memorial Trophy: Max Bentley, Chicago Black Hawks
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Toe Blake, Montreal Canadiens
Vezina Trophy: Bill Durnan, Montreal Canadiens

All-Star Teams

First Team   Position   Second Team
Bill Durnan, Montreal Canadiens G Frank Brimsek, Boston Bruins
Jack Crawford, Boston Bruins D Ken Reardon, Montreal Canadiens
Butch Bouchard, Montreal Canadiens D Jack Stewart, Detroit Red Wings
Max Bentley, Chicago Black Hawks C Elmer Lach, Montreal Canadiens
Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens RW Bill Mosienko, Chicago Black Hawks
Gaye Stewart, Toronto Maple Leafs LW Toe Blake, Montreal Canadiens
Dick Irvin, Montreal Canadiens Coach Johnny Gottselig, Chicago Black Hawks


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1945-46 (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 1945-46 (listed with their last team):


  • Chicago: 440,049 (new league record)



Highlights of the December 16, 1945 game between the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens which the Habs took 4-2. Goalie Jim Henry of the Rangers is under siege but keeps the game close. First goal of the game by Canadiens Billy Reay is shown as the last goal by Canadiens Bob Fillion.

See Also


NHL Seasons

1941-42 | 1942-43 | 1943-44 | 1944-45 | 1945-46 | 1946-47 | 1947-48 | 1948-49 | 1949-50