The 1951-52 NHL season was the 35th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup by sweeping the Montreal Canadiens four games to none.
Chicago, who had made a mammoth nine player deal the previous season, now decided to make the largest cash deal for players to this time by paying $75,000 for Jim McFadden, George Gee, Jimmy Peters, Clare Martin, Clare Raglan, and Max McNab.
On October 13, 1951, the Leafs played an afternoon pre-season versus the Chicago Blackhawks which was attended by her Highness, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. The Princess asked Conn Smythe many questions about hockey while the Prince enjoyed the bodychecking. No goals were scored before the royal couple had to depart. The Leafs then played their home opener that evening against the Hawks but not before unfurling their Stanley Cup banner.
Conn Smythe offered $10,000 for anyone who found Bill Barilko, missing since August 26th. Barilko and Dr. Henry Hudson had left Rupert House on James Bay in the doctor's light plane for Timmins, Ontario after a weekend fishing trip and had not been found.
For the fourth straight season, the Detroit Red Wings finished first overall in the National Hockey League.
Montreal opened the season before a crowd of 15,100 fans as the Canadiens beat Chicago 4-2. Rocket Richard had a goal and Bernie Geoffrion had two. On the same night, Terry Sawchuk had his first shutout of the season as Detroit beat Boston 1-0.
Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were in attendance at the Montreal Forum, and Floyd Curry came alive with the hat trick and Richard scored two goals as Montreal beat the New York Rangers 6-1.
Inspired by the return of Black Jack Stewart to the lineup, Chicago had a rare trouncing of the Red Wings right at the Olympia, 6-2. During the game, Chicago's Gus Bodnar twisted his shoulder and Harry Lumley hurt a knee. Trainer Moe Roberts, who played his first game in the NHL for Boston in 1925-26, played the rest of the way in goal for Chicago and played quite well at age 46. Roberts would stand as the oldest person to ever play an NHL game until Gordie Howe returned to the NHL at age 51 in 1979.
Chicago wasn't drawing well and so they decided to experiment with afternoon games. It worked, as the largest crowd of the season, 13,600 fans, showed up for a January 20 game in which Chicago lost to Toronto 3-1.
Elmer Lach night was held March 8 at Montreal Forum as the Canadiens tied Chicago 4-4. 14,452 fans were on hand to see Lach presented with a car, rowboat, TV set, deepfreeze chest, bedroom and dining room suites, a refrigerator and many other articles.
Kraut Line night was celebrated at the Boston Garden before the March 18, 1952 game versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Having last played in the NHL 5 years previously, 37 year old Bobby Bauer comes out of retirement and plays in the game. With the Bruins up 1-0, Milt Schmidt scores his 200th career goal, assisted by Woody Dumart and Bauer. Bauer then adds a goal (assisted by Schmidt and Real Chevrefils) and then Schmidt assists on a goal by Chevrefils in Boston's 4-0 blanking of Chicago. Dave Creighton wears jersey #4 so that Bauer can wear the #17 he made famous.
On the last night of the season, March 23, 1952, with nothing at stake at Madison Square Garden, 3,254 fans saw Chicago's Bill Mosienko score the fastest hat trick in NHL history, 3 goals in 21 seconds on goalie Lorne Anderson. Gus Bodnar also set a record with the fastest three assists in NHL history as he assisted on all three goals Mosienko scored. Chicago beat the New York Rangers 7-6.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|National Hockey League||GP||W||L||T||Pts||GF||GA||PIM|
|Detroit Red Wings||70||44||14||12||100||215||133||694|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||70||29||25||16||74||168||157||841|
|New York Rangers||70||23||34||13||59||192||219||532|
|Chicago Black Hawks||70||17||44||9||43||158||241||627|
Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|Gordie Howe||Detroit Red Wings||70||47||39||86||78|
|Ted Lindsay||Detroit Red Wings||70||30||39||69||123|
|Elmer Lach||Montreal Canadiens||70||15||50||65||36|
|Don Raleigh||New York Rangers||70||19||42||61||14|
|Sid Smith||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||27||30||57||6|
Stanley Cup PlayoffsEdit
In the playoffs, Detroit finished 8-0, the first time a team had gone undefeated in the playoffs since the 1934-35 Montreal Maroons. The Wings scored 24 goals in the playoffs, compared to a combined 5 goals for their opponents.
|1||Detroit Red Wings||4|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||0|
|1||Detroit Red Wings||4|
Montreal Canadiens 4, Boston Bruins 3Edit
Having last met in the 1946 Stanley Cup Finals where the Habs defeated the Bruins 4 games to 1 with three games going to overtime, the 1952 Semi-final series would be even closer with Montreal edging Boston 4 games to 3. The series is famous for Jim Henry playing Games 6 and 7 with a broken nose and Maurice Richard scoring the Game 7 winning goal having been concussed and cut. The photo of the two battered players shaking hands has become iconic.
Game 1 at the Montreal Forum was a clean game that was dominated by Montreal. After Richard put the Habs up in the first period, he assisted on a goal by Dickie Moore in the second. The Bruins Pentti Lund, playing blind in one eye, cut the lead to 2-1 but Richard's second of the game made it 3-1 Montreal at the end of the second period. Goals by Billy Reay and Floyd Curry completed Montreal's 5-1 win.
Game 2 at Montreal was a repeat of Game 1 with a goal by Ken Mosdell and a Hat trick by Bernie Geoffrion. However, Mosdell collided with Boston's Ed Sandford, broke his right leg and was lost for the playoffs. Boston's Gus Kyle was also lost for the remainder of the series and was replaced with rookie Bob Armstrong, who'd go on to become a regular on the Bruins blueline for the next decade.
Game 3 at the Boston Garden had no goals in the first period. At 2:05 of the second period, Hal Laycoe's shot deflected off Doug Harvey's stick past Gerry McNeil for the Bruins first lead of the series. 33 seconds later, Dave Creighton made it 2-0 Boston. 29 seconds later, Ed Sandford's shot fell in the crease and as McNeil tried to clear it, he ran into Paul Meger who accidentally put the puck in his own net. Boston led 3-0 after scoring three goals in 1:02. In the third period, Fleming Mackell made it 4-0 until Montreal's Floyd Curry scored a consolation goal for a 4-1 Bruins win.
Game 4 at Boston saw the first career playoff goal by Real Chevrefils put the Bruins up 1-0 at 9:53 of the first period. In the second period, Milt Schmidt made it 2-0 until Mackell took a tripping penalty and Curry scored a late power play goal. At 6:48 of the third period, Curry tied the score until Mackell scored the game winner on a three on two break. With a 3-2 win, the Bruins had evened the series.
Game 5 at Montreal saw the Bruins play a defensive game. After two scoreless periods, Dave Creighton forced a turnover, passed to Johnny Peirson who fed it to Jack McIntyre. Flying down the right wing, the left shooting McIntyre fired a shot far side that beat McNeil. The Bruins held a 3-2 series lead with Jim Henry posting his first playoff shutout in 10 years.
Game 6 at Boston saw the Bruins jump out to a 2-0 lead on first period goals by Dave Creighton and Milt Schmidt. The Habs Eddie Mazur, who'd never appeared in a regular season game for them, cut the lead in half at 4:53 of the second period. Eight minutes into the third period, Bruins goalie Jim Henry had his nose broken by a Doug Harvey shot. The game was delayed for 17 minutes as Henry was treated. He courageously returned to play but with both eyes black and swollen, he struggled to see the puck at times. At 11:05, Richard fired a 30 foot shot through a screen that sent the game into overtime. After a scoreless first OT, Paul Masnick rapped in a rebound from a Harvey shot that ended the game at 7:49 of the second OT. The series was tied heading back to Montreal.
Game 7 at Montreal was an iconic game for Maurice Richard. In the second period, with the score tied on goals by Eddie Mazur and Ed Sandford, Richard's attempt to cut between Bruins Hal Laycoe and Leo Labine resulted in him falling and hitting his head on the ice. Bleeding from a cut above his left eye and unconscious, he was roused and brought to the dressing room for repairs. While being stitched up, he lost consciousness again. With five minutes left in the game and the teams playing four on four (Laycoe and Billy Reay were in the box for high sticking), Richard made his way back to the Habs bench. Assuring coach Dick Irvin that he was all right, Irvin could see Richard wasn't as he didn't know the game's score and admitted his vision was blurry. Nevertheless, Richard went on the ice, took a pass from Butch Bouchard on the right wing, beat Bill Quackenbush to the outside, faked a shot to the near post on Jim Henry, cut in front of the Bruins net and put the puck in the far side of the net (see Gallery for a photo). Deliriously happy Montreal fans rained debris on the ice and the game was stopped for 5 minutes to clean the mess up. With the Bruins goalie pulled, Bill Reay scored with 34 seconds left for a 3-1 Habs victory and the series win. The players shook hands after the game with Milt Schmidt congratulating Habs rookie Dickie Moore, who he'd battled for most of the series. Jim Henry and Richard's handshake became one of hockey's most iconic photos with Henry's blackened eyes from his broken nose and Richard's bandaged eye still bleeding.
|1||March 25||Boston Bruins||1-5||Montreal Canadiens||0-1|
|2||March 27||Boston Bruins||0-4||Montreal Canadiens||0-2|
|3||March 30||Montreal Canadiens||1-4||Boston Bruins||2-1|
|4||April 1||Montreal Canadiens||2-3||Boston Bruins||2-2|
|5||April 3||Boston Bruins||1-0||Montreal Canadiens||3-2|
|6||April 6||Montreal Canadiens||3-2 (2OT)||Boston Bruins||3-3|
|7||April 8||Boston Bruins||1-3||Montreal Canadiens||3-4|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1951-52 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
- Leo Labine, Boston Bruins
- Real Chevrefils, Boston Bruins
- Kenny Wharram, Chicago Black Hawks
- Don Marshall, Montreal Canadiens
- Dickie Moore, Montreal Canadiens
- Wally Hergesheimer, New York Rangers
- Eric Nesterenko, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Leo Boivin, Toronto Maple Leafs
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1951-52 (listed with their last team):
- Bobby Bauer, Boston Bruins
- Roy Conacher, Chicago Black Hawks
- Jack Stewart, Chicago Black Hawks
- Bep Guidolin, Chicago Black Hawks
- Turk Broda, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Bill Juzda, Toronto Maple Leafs
Regular Season Only
- Montreal: 503,993
- Toronto: 467,356
- Detroit: 419,862
- New York: 376,645
- Chicago: 297,316
- Boston: 245,144
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- 5th National Hockey League All-Star Game
- National Hockey League All-Star Game
- Ice hockey at the 1952 Winter Olympics
|1951–52 NHL season by team|
|Teams||Boston • Chicago • Detroit • Montreal • New York • Toronto|
|See also||All-Star Game • 1952 Stanley Cup Finals|
|National Hockey League|