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Bill Barilko lauded after scoring the 1951 Cup winning goal.

The 1950-51 NHL season was the 34th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens four games to one for the Stanley Cup to win their fifth Cup in seven years.

League Business[]

In order to provide better contrast when viewing teams on black and white television, the league had its six member teams pick what jersey (light or dark) they'd wear at home. Montreal chose their red jersey, the Rangers their blue while the other four teams adopted their white jerseys for use at home.

Regular Season[]

The biggest trade in NHL history at the time took place in July of 1950 with Sugar Jim Henry, Gaye Stewart, Bob Goldham, and Metro Prystai of Chicago going to Detroit for Harry Lumley, Black Jack Stewart, Al Dewsbury, Don Morrison, and Pete Babando, an exchange of nine players altogether.

Joe Primeau was named coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs with Hap Day kicked upstairs to assistant general manager. Toronto came flying out of the gate, undefeated in 11 games. Al Rollins had a great year, finishing with a 1.75 goals against average in 40 games. The Leafs had hoped to have Rollins share the Vezina Trophy with Turk Broda, but the league decided Rollins alone would be the recipient. The Leafs' .679 win percentage remains their all time best for a season, despite the fact that they were second in the league standings behind Detroit.

With the New York Rangers slumping this season, they hired a hypnotist, Dr. David Tracy, to help relax the team. The treatment remained in doubt and the Rangers lost to the Boston Bruins on November 12th. Asked why the treatment didn't work, Dr. Tracy said that he should have worked with the goaltender (Chuck Rayner) as he wasn't relaxed enough.

Montreal fans were excited when it was reported that two junior stars, Jean Beliveau and Bernie Geoffrion, would be given a trial in a December 16th game with the Rangers. The Canadiens played a 1-1 tie before 14,158 fans. Geoffrion scored the Canadiens goal in his debut.

Chicago was in third place at mid-season when bad luck struck. Their captain, Black Jack Stewart, ruptured a disc in his back and had to undergo surgery. He was finished for the season and his career was in jeopardy. Aggravating things were injuries to Gus Bodnar and Bill Gadsby. The Black Hawks won only two games in the second half and finished last.

In March, Rocket Richard ran into trouble in a game with Detroit. Richard was tripped and rose with a cut between the eyes. No penalty was called and Richard commenced an argument with referee Hugh McLean. He continued his argument too long and was given a misconduct penalty. Richard then skated to the penalty box and found Leo Reise of Detroit there to welcome him with derisive remarks which infuriated Richard, who then punched Reise, and when linesman Jim Primeau rushed to intervene, Richard took a poke at him and Richard was given a game misconduct. The Canadiens took a train to New York for a game against the Rangers, and the next morning, Richard encountered referee McLean and linesman Primeau in the lobby of the Picadilly Hotel. No punches were thrown, but Richard grabbed McLean by the tie and then Primeau intervened. Considerable profanity filled the air, but cooler heads separated the trio before fists could fly. NHL President Clarence Campbell took a dim view of the matter and fined the Rocket $500 for conduct prejudicial to the welfare of hockey.

Commemorative patch worn by the Red Wings in 1951.

Beginning in the 1951, the Red Wings wore a patch on the left sleeve of their jerseys commemorating the city of Detroit's 250th anniversary.

The Detroit Red Wings got hot in the second half, overtaking Toronto and finished in first place again, becoming the first team with more than 100 points. Gordie Howe led the NHL in goals, assists, and points while goaltender Terry Sawchuk won the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie. Sawchuk set a record for most wins by a goalie, as he was in net for all of Detroit's 44 victories.

Final Standings[]

National Hockey League
Detroit Red Wings 70 44 13 13 101 236 139
Toronto Maple Leafs 70 41 16 13 95 212 138
Montreal Canadiens 70 25 30 15 65 173 184
Boston Bruins 70 22 30 18 62 178 197
New York Rangers 70 20 29 21 61 169 201
Chicago Black Hawks 70 13 47 10 36 171 280

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

Player Team GP G A Pts
Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings 70 43 43 86
Maurice Richard Montreal Canadiens 65 42 24 66
Max Bentley Toronto Maple Leafs 67 21 41 62
Sid Abel Detroit Red Wings 69 23 38 61
Milt Schmidt Boston Bruins 62 22 39 61
Ted Kennedy Toronto Maple Leafs 63 18 43 61
Ted Lindsay Detroit Red Wings 67 24 35 59

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
Al Rollins Toronto Maple Leafs 40 2373 70 1.77 27 5 8 5
Terry Sawchuk Detroit Red Wings 70 4200 139 1.99 44 13 13 11
Turk Broda Toronto Maple Leafs 31 1827 68 2.23 14 11 5 6
Gerry McNeil Montreal Canadiens 70 4200 184 2.63 25 30 15 6
Jack Gelineau Boston Bruins 70 4200 197 2.81 22 30 18 4
Chuck Rayner New York Rangers 66 3940 87 2.85 19 28 19 2
Emile Francis New York Rangers 5 260 14 3.23 1 1 2 0
Harry Lumley Chicago Black Hawks 64 3785 246 3.90 12 41 10 3
Marcel Pelletier Chicago Black Hawks 6 355 29 4.90 1 5 0 0

Stanley Cup Playoffs[]

All dates in 1951

The second seed Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated the fourth seed Boston Bruins in five games, and the third seed Montreal Canadiens upset first overall Detroit Red Wings in six, setting up a Leafs – Canadiens Stanley Cup final series, won by the Leafs 4–1.

Playoff Bracket[]

Semifinals Finals
1 Detroit Red Wings 2
3 Montreal Canadiens 4
3 Montreal Canadiens 1
2 Toronto Maple Leafs 4
2 Toronto Maple Leafs 4
4 Boston Bruins 1

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Boston Bruins 1 (One tie)[]

Having last met in the 1949 Semi-finals, the Leafs dispatched the Bruins again by a 4-1 series score with one game ending in a tie, the last playoff tie in NHL history.

Game 1 at Maple Leaf Gardens saw two rookie goalies play their first career playoff game. The Bruins Jack Gelineau would record his only career playoff shutout in Game 1 while the Leafs Al Rollins had a fantastic regular season and won the Vezina Trophy. Game 1 wouldn't turn out well for Rollins who gave up a goal to Lorne Ferguson at 14:48 of the first period. Less than two minutes later, Rollins was knocked out of the series after a collision with the Bruins Pete Horeck. Veteran goalie Turk Broda, who'd retire the next season, stepped in for Rollins. Broda gave up a goal early in the third period to Woody Dumart and Gelineau stopped all 24 Leaf shots for a 2-0 win.

Game 2 at Toronto was a rough affair that had a very strange ending. After Bill Barilko put the Leafs up 1-0, he'd become involved in several incidents. The second period saw seven fights break out and Barilko received a game misconduct for a hit on Dunc Fisher that resulted in Fisher leaving the game on a stretcher. Johnny Peirson tied the game up at the 9:26 of the second. The game went scoreless in the third, resulting in overtime. The first OT period was also scoreless and it was 11:45pm on a Saturday night. The city of Toronto had a curfew law that prohibited professional sporting events from occurring on Sunday. As a result, the game ended after one overtime period and was declared a draw. The game is not officially counted in NHL game registers though the statistics in the game are. In OT, Johnny Peirson suffered a broken cheek and was lost for the remainder of the series.

Game 3 at Boston Garden saw the 36 year old Broda play brilliantly and shut the Bruins out. Cal Gardner opened the scoring at 3:02 of the second period on a solo rush. Stopped in front of the Bruins net by Bill Quackenbush and Murray Henderson, he managed to get off a shot as he was falling that eluded Gelineau. Fern Flaman got revenge for the Bruins trading him with a Power play goal on a point shot at 13:11. Max Bentley added a goal in the third period and the series was tied.

Game 4 at Boston saw the Leafs outlast the Bruins who opened the scoring at 7:50 of the first period with Dunc Fisher's only point of the series. The Leafs Sid Smith evened the score on the power play with the Bruins Bill Ezinicki in the box. Max Bentley put the Leafs up for good two minutes later. Barilko's second of the series in the third period finished a 3-1 win and a 2-1-1 series lead for the Leafs.

Game 5 at Toronto was held after a three day layoff. With Gord Henry replacing Jack Gelineau in the Bruins net, the Leafs dominated the ailing Bruins with two goals by Joe Klukay (including one shorthanded), Fleming Mackell and Ted Kennedy before Bill Ezinicki scored a consolation goal for the Bruins.

Game 6 at Boston saw the Leafs win the series with a 6-0 whitewashing of the Bruins with Gord Henry again in net. Klukay scored twice with individual markers by Kennedy, Mackell, Sid Smith and Tod Sloan. The Leafs took the series 4-1-1.

# Date Visitor Score Home Record
1 March 28 Boston Bruins 2-0 Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0
2 March 31 Boston Bruins 1-1 (OT) Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0-1
3 April 1 Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 Boston Bruins 1-1-1
4 April 3 Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 Boston Bruins 2-1-1
5 April 7 Boston Bruins 1-4 Toronto Maple Leafs 1-1-3
6 April 8 Toronto Maple Leafs 6-0 Boston Bruins 4-1-1

Montreal Canadiens 4, Detroit Red Wings 2[]

Date Away Score Home Score Notes
March 27 Montreal Canadiens 3 Detroit Red Wings 2 4 OT
March 29 Montreal Canadiens 1 Detroit Red Wings 0 3 OT
March 31 Detroit Red Wings 2 Montreal Canadiens 0
April 3 Detroit Red Wings 4 Montreal Canadiens 1
April 5 Montreal Canadiens 5 Detroit Red Wings 2
April 7 Detroit Red Wings 2 Montreal Canadiens 3


see 1951 Stanley Cup Finals

Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Date Away Score Home Score Notes
April 11 Montreal Canadiens 2 Toronto Maple Leafs 3 OT-Smith
April 14 Toronto Maple Leafs 2 Montreal Canadiens 3 OT-M. Richard
April 17 Montreal Canadiens 1 Toronto Maple Leafs 2 OT-Kennedy
April 19 Montreal Canadiens 2 Toronto Maple Leafs 3 OT-Watson
April 21 Montreal Canadiens 2 Toronto Maple Leafs 3 OT-Barilko (2:53)

Toronto wins best-of-seven series 4 games to 1

Playoff Scoring Leaders[]

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points

Player Team GP G A Pts
Maurice Richard Montreal Canadiens 11 9 4 13
Max Bentley Toronto Maple Leafs 11 2 11 13
Sid Smith Toronto Maple Leafs 11 7 3 10

NHL Awards[]

Prince of Wales Trophy: Detroit Red Wings
Art Ross Memorial Trophy: Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
Calder Memorial Trophy: Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings
Hart Memorial Trophy: Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings
Vezina Trophy: Al Rollins, Toronto Maple Leafs

All-Star Teams[]

First Team   Position   Second Team
Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings G Chuck Rayner, New York Rangers
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings D Jimmy Thomson, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bill Quackenbush, Boston Bruins D Leo Reise, Jr., Detroit Red Wings
Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins C Ted Kennedy, Toronto Maple Leafs

Sid Abel, Detroit Red Wings (tied)

Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings RW Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens
Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings LW Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1950-51 (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 1950-51 (listed with their last team):


Regular Season Only

  1. Montreal: 502,403
  2. Toronto: 471,516
  3. Detroit: 400,731
  4. New York: 349,251
  5. Chicago: 330,341
  6. Boston: 308,650



An incredible video featuring the 1951 off-season activities of 15 NHL players in the days when most worked during the summer. Brief, excellent game footage of each is shown. Players featured are Ted Lindsay, Johnny Peirson, Bill Mosienko, Bill Gadsby, Bill Juzda, Leo Reise, Jack Gelineau, Edgar Laprade, Doug and Max Bentley, Chuck Rayner, Gus Mortson, Pentti Lund, Glen Harmon, Elmer Lach.

See Also[]


NHL Seasons

1946-47 | 1947-48 | 1948-49 | 1949-50 | 1950-51 | 1951-52 | 1952-53 | 1953-54 | 1954-55