The 1953-54 NHL season was the 37th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The James Norris Memorial Trophy made its debut this season and its first winner was Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings. The Norris Trophy goes to the top defenceman each year and was named in honour of James E. Norris, owner of the Detroit Red Wings franchise from 1932 until his death in 1952.
In October, 1953, Dave Gatherum was called up by the Detroit Red Wings to replace the injured Terry Sawchuk in goal. In his first game, Gatherum shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 on October 11, 1953. He then held the Chicago Black Hawks scoreless until early in the third period of the 2-2 tie game on October 16. He ended up with a 2-0-1 record in three games but was never recalled to the NHL. His name was put on the Stanley Cup as the Wings won it in 1953-54. Gatherum held the record for longest shutout streak to start an NHL career (100.21 minutes) until the 2011–12 NHL season when it was surpassed by Matt Hackett.
The New York Rangers decided to drop Gump Worsley and went with Johnny Bower in goal this season. Bower did well, but not well enough to get the Rangers into the playoffs. However, the Rangers managed to come up with a fine rookie in Camille Henry who won the Calder Memorial Trophy.
On December 9th, the Montreal Canadiens played the Toronto Maple Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens and the teams set a record of most penalties in a game. The trouble started when Montreal's Ed Mazur got into a fight with Toronto's George Armstrong in the first period. Both received game misconduct penalties. Early in the second period, Bud MacPherson broke his stick on the ribs of Toronto's Ron Stewart. He chose not to retaliate until a more opportune time. It came at 18:12 of the third period when Stewart and MacPherson collided again. This time they pushed and shoved and the gloves came off and they began to pummel each other. Tom Johnson came to MacPherson's aid by putting a headlock on Stewart and Stewart threw a punch that landed on Johnson's jaw. Stewart pursued MacPherson again, now that he was in combat with Eric Nesterenko of Toronto and soon the benches emptied and everyone was fighting except Maurice Richard and Tim Horton who merely grabbed each other's sweaters. Referee Frank Udvari handed out 36 penalties, including 15 misconducts for a record 204 minutes in penalties. With almost 2 minutes left in the game, only 8 players from each team excluding the goaltenders Gerry McNeil and Harry Lumley, who did battle in the brawl, were permitted to finish the game. Almost forgotten was that Toronto won the game 3-0.
President Campbell was busy this year imposing fines and suspensions. As a result of pushing referee Frank Udvari into the boards during a November 12th game, Bernie Geoffrion was fined $250. Later, the December 20, 1953 game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens saw stick work between Ron Murphy and Bernie Geoffrion. Geoffrion wanted to fight and had dropped his stick but Murphy wouldn't let go of his. Geoffrion retrieved his stick and swung it at Murphy until he made contact with his head. Murphy was knocked unconscious, suffered a broken jaw and concussion and missed the reason of the season recovering from the attack. Geoffrion was suspended for all remaining games versus the Rangers for the season.
The Rangers gained some publicity by using a so-called elixir prepared by restaurateur Gene Leone, but no conclusive results were reported.
There were persistent rumours that the Chicago Black Hawks would fold due to the poor performance of the team and fans staying away in droves. NHL president Clarence Campbell discussed the problems with Arthur M. Wirtz and it was announced that the rumours were without foundation. However, Wirtz decided to play several home games in other locations. Three games were played in Indianapolis at the State Fair Coliseum.
There was trouble brewing for Maurice Richard when he ghosted an article in the Samedi Dimanche newspaper, calling NHL president Clarence Campbell a dictator and took exception to Campbell's suspension of Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion for the stick swinging incident. Richard was required to post a $1000 bond and refrain from any more articles.
The Detroit Red Wings were first overall in the National Hockey league for the sixth straight season.
Detroit Red Wings Prison GameEdit
On February 2, 1954 the Red Wings played an exhibition game outdoors at the Marquette Branch Prison. Invited by the warden, they played a team of convicts called the "Marquette Prison Pirates." It was the first ever outdoor game played by the Detroit Red Wings. After the first period the Red Wings were winning 18–0, and the scores for the remainder of the match were not kept. To make things interesting, the Wings swapped a few players, trading goalie Terry Sawchuk, among others, and exchanged one set of defensemen. Ted Lindsay, skated on the opposite wing as Gordie Howe with an inmate as their centerman. Howe then skated the second half of the game with the prisoners, wearing a #16 Pirates jersey.
|National Hockey League||GP||W||L||T||Pts||GF||GA|
|Detroit Red Wings||70||37||19||14||88||191||132|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||70||32||24||14||78||152||131|
|New York Rangers||70||29||31||10||68||161||182|
|Chicago Black Hawks||70||12||51||7||31||133||242|
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.
Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|Gordie Howe||Detroit Red Wings||70||33||48||81||109|
|Maurice Richard||Montreal Canadiens||70||37||30||67||112|
|Ted Lindsay||Detroit Red Wings||70||26||36||62||110|
|Bernie Geoffrion||Montreal Canadiens||54||29||25||54||87|
|Bert Olmstead||Montreal Canadiens||70||15||37||52||85|
Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts
|Jacques Plante||Montreal Canadiens||17||1020||27||1.59||7||5||5||5|
|Harry Lumley||Toronto Maple Leafs||69||4140||128||1.86||32||24||13||13|
|Terry Sawchuk||Detroit Red Wings||67||4004||129||1.93||35||19||13||12|
|Gerry McNeil||Montreal Canadiens||53||3180||114||2.15||28||19||6||6|
|Jim Henry||Boston Bruins||70||4200||181||2.59||32||28||10||8|
|Johnny Bower||New York Rangers||70||4200||182||2.60||29||31||10||5|
|Al Rollins||Chicago Black Hawks||66||3960||213||3.23||12||47||7||5|
Stanley Cup PlayoffsEdit
|1||Detroit Red Wings||4|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||1|
|1||Detroit Red Wings||4|
Montreal Canadiens 4, Boston Bruins 0Edit
The teams met the previous year in the 1953 Stanley Cup Finals where Montreal prevailed 4 games to 1. The Canadiens won in convincing fashion, never trailing in a game and despite Maurice Richard not registering a point in the series. Jacques Plante was brilliant, allowing only 4 goals in 4 games and posting 2 shutouts. At the end of the playoffs, after managing the Bruins since their first season in 1924-25, Art Ross announced his retirement and was replaced by Lynn Patrick.
Game 1 at the Montreal Forum saw the Canadiens pepper Bruins goalie Jim Henry with 43 shots. After Canadiens Lorne Davis opened the scoring at 4:25 in the second period it appeared Boston had tied it up when a Doug Mohns shot eluded Plante and skittered towards the open net. Doug Harvey batted it out and the goal judge declared the puck hadn't crossed the line. The Bruins couldn't solve Plante and Bernie Geoffrion scored in the third period for a 2-0 Montreal win.
Game 2 in Montreal saw the Canadiens dominate from the opening faceoff as Dickie Moore scored 10 seconds into the game. Montreal scored three more in the first period then Moore potted his second for a 5-0 lead. After Jean Béliveau scored his first career playoff goal early in the second, the game got chippy. Fleming Mackell scored Boston's only goal of the game at 13:02 and then several fights broke out. The fighting continued in the third period as 94 minutes in penalties were called in the game. Paul Meger and Beliveau added goals for a 8-1 Canadiens romp and 2-0 series lead.
Game 3 at the Boston Garden was the closest game of the series. After a scoreless first period, Butch Bouchard and Cal Gardner traded goals in the first minute of the second period. Geoffrion and Bouchard made it 3-1 going into the third period. The Bruins fought back hard and goals by Doug Mohns and Milt Schmidt (the last of his career) tied it up with four minutes left. Dickie Moore scored with 1:30 left to win it 4-3 for Montreal.
Game 4 in Boston saw Montreal sweep the series on goals by Floyd Curry and Dickie Moore's 4th of the series.
|1||March 23||Boston Bruins||0-2||Montreal Canadiens||0-1|
|2||March 25||Boston Bruins||1-8||Montreal Canadiens||0-2|
|3||March 28||Montreal Canadiens||4-3||Boston Bruins||3-0|
|4||March 30||Montreal Canadiens||2-0||Boston Bruins||4-0|
Detroit Red Wings 4, Montreal Canadiens 3Edit
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1953-54 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
- Doug Mohns, Boston Bruins
- Earl Reibel, Detroit Red Wings
- Camille Henry, New York Rangers
- Johnny Bower, New York Rangers
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1953-54 (listed with their last team):
- Woody Dumart, Boston Bruins
- George Gee, Chicago Black Hawks
- Jack Gelineau, Chicago Black Hawks
- Sid Abel, Chicago Black Hawks
- Jim McFadden, Chicago Black Hawks
- Elmer Lach, Montreal Canadiens
- Gaye Stewart, Montreal Canadiens
- Doug Bentley, New York Rangers
- Max Bentley, New York Rangers
- Leo Reise, Jr., New York Rangers
- Howie Meeker, Toronto Maple Leafs
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- 7th National Hockey League All-Star Game
- National Hockey League All-Star Game
|National Hockey League|
|1953–54 NHL season by team|
|Teams||Boston • Chicago • Detroit • Montreal • New York • Toronto|
|See also||All-Star Game • 1954 Stanley Cup Finals|