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View of the melee that would lead to the "Richard Riot" with Maurice Richard and Hal Laycoe marked with arrows, March 13, 1955.

The 1954-55 NHL season was the 38th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Detroit Red Wings were the Stanley Cup winners as they beat the Montreal Canadiens four games to three in the best-of-seven final series.

Art Ross announced at the league governors meeting that his connection with Boston would terminate at the end of September. As this would be his last appearance at a league meeting, he took the opportunity to thank the governors and others associated with the league during the 30 years of his being officer of the Boston club for the kindness, courtesy and cooperation he had received, and extended his good wishes for the continued success of the league. Conn Smythe and Frank Selke voiced the good wishes of all present to Ross on his retirement.

Regular Season[]

Prior to the season, Red Wings head coach Tommy Ivan left Detroit to become general manager of the Chicago Black Hawks, and Jimmy Skinner replaced him behind the bench in the Motor City. One of the first things Ivan did at Chicago was to establish an extensive farm system, something the Black Hawks never had.

On November 3, although he was booed throughout most of the game, Eric Nesterenko of Toronto scored the tying goal to salvage a 1-1 tie with Detroit. The main feature of the game was the constant heckling of referee Red Storey by Red Wings assistant trainer Ross "Lefty" Wilson. Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe demanded that Wilson be fined $1,000 by the league. NHL President Clarence Campbell disagreed, but told Wilson to cork it or face a heavy fine.

Sawchuk, Skov and Lindsay go after a heckler, November 11, 1954.

On November 11, the Detroit Red Wings were playing a home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Angry that Metro Prystai had been traded to the Chicago Black Hawks at the bequest of Leafs Conn Smythe in the name of league parity, the Wings were in a foul mood. Ted Lindsay fought with Leafs Jim Thomson and then coach King Clancy. The Leafs won 1-0 and as the Wings were leaving the ice, a hometown fan heckled Glen Skov. Skov, goalie Terry Sawchuk, Sid Abel and Lindsay scaled the wire mesh over the boards to get at the fan, with Lindsay punching the heckler in the eye.

With poor attendance at home and having played three home games in Indianapolis the previous season, the Chicago Black Hawks played six home games in St. Louis in 1954-55.

On December 2 at the Detroit Olympia, Montreal beat the Red Wings 4-1. Maurice "Rocket" Richard got his 398th goal and a misconduct penalty for an argument with referee Bill Chadwick. With two minutes left to play, a free-for-all broke out in front of the Detroit bench and both teams had to be sent to their dressing rooms to cool off. Detroit coach Jimmy Skinner exchanged punches with Butch Bouchard in the melee.

On December 18, Richard scored his 400th career goal against Chicago netminder Al Rollins in a 4-1 Canadiens victory over the Black Hawks.

Montreal and Toronto played to a 1-1 tie on December 29, at Maple Leaf Gardens. Rocket Richard got a standing ovation when he scored his 401st goal late in the first period. With five minutes left in the game, Bob Bailey gave Richard a heavy check near the boards, sending him to the ice. Richard went after Bailey and fists flew before officials restrained them. Richard tried to get a stick from a teammate but was restrained. He finally broke away from linesman George Hayes and struck the linesman with an empty glove. The fans laid a barrage of boos for Richard, whom they had cheered in the first period. Richard received a major penalty and two misconducts, while Bailey also received a major penalty and two misconducts. Ten days later, Richard was fined $250 for his attack on Hayes.

During a Montreal-Detroit clash on New Year's Day, NHL president Clarence Campbell went to the Detroit bench to warn Detroit coach Jimmy Skinner about his players using obscene language. Campbell was told to mind his own business, and that he was only a spectator. Campbell agreed that he was a spectator, but only had the league interest in mind.

On January 22, the Leafs defeated Detroit 3-1 at Maple Leaf Gardens when Ted Lindsay got into trouble. A spectator grabbed Gordie Howe's stick as he was skating by, and the fan and Howe scuffled briefly. As Howe skated away, the fan made a futile attempt to strike Howe. At that point Lindsay rushed over and struck the spectator with his stick. President Campbell took a dim view of this incident and suspended Lindsay for ten days (five games). Lindsay appealed the suspension, but the board of governors upheld Campbell's actions.

In a scoreless tie at the Montreal Forum on March 10, a new ice cleaner and resurfacer called a Zamboni was used for the first time. The fans were not appreciative of Toronto's defensive style in this game and threw garbage, including pig's feet, on the ice.

Hal Laycoe on the far left with Bert Olmstead while Jean Béliveau restrains #8 Fleming Mackell. Richard is behind Beliveau with linesman Cliff Thompson.

With three games left in the season, Rocket Richard, the famous 50-in-50 goal scorer, got into a stick-swinging fight with Hal Laycoe of Boston Bruins and then punched linesman Cliff Thompson, who was trying to restrain him. NHL President Clarence Campbell suspended the Rocket for the remaining three games of the season and the playoffs. At the time, the Canadiens held a two point lead over the Red Wings for first overall in the NHL and Richard held a two point lead over teammate Bernie Geoffrion for the NHL scoring lead. Geoffrion ended up passing Richard in total points and was awarded the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL leading scorer. Two days after the Campbell handed out the suspension, Richard attended a game at the Montreal Forum between the Canadiens and Red Wings. The Wings assumed a 4-1 lead,and then NHL president Clarence Campbell rubbed salt into the fans wounds when he showed up near the end of the first period. He was showered with pig's feet and other debris, and a fan punched him. One fan rubbed a tomato on his chest. Then a policeman, realizing the president's life was in danger, threw a tear gas bomb near the Canadiens goal during the intermission. A stampede for the exits commenced, and the fire director ordered the game called off for the safety of the public. The "Richard Riot" ensued that ended the game and carried over to the next day. The Red Wings won the game by forfeit and eventually went on to take first overall in the NHL for a record seventh straight season.

Final Standings[]

National Hockey League
Detroit Red Wings 70 42 17 11 95 204 134
Montreal Canadiens 70 41 18 11 93 228 157
Toronto Maple Leafs 70 24 24 22 70 147 135
Boston Bruins 70 23 26 21 67 169 188
New York Rangers 70 17 35 18 52 150 210
Chicago Black Hawks 70 13 40 17 43 161 235

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

Player Team GP G A PTS PIM
Bernie Geoffrion Montreal Canadiens 70 38 37 75 57
Maurice Richard Montreal Canadiens 67 38 36 74 125
Jean Beliveau Montreal Canadiens 70 37 36 73 58
Earl Reibel Detroit Red Wings 70 25 41 66 15
Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings 64 29 33 62 68

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
Harry Lumley Toronto Maple Leafs 69 4140 133 1.93 23 24 22 8
Terry Sawchuk Detroit Red Wings 68 4080 132 1.94 40 17 11 12
Jacques Plante Montreal Canadiens 52 3120 109 2.10 31 13 7 5
Charlie Hodge Montreal Canadiens 14 820 31 2.27 7 3 4 1
John Henderson Boston Bruins 45 2652 109 2.47 15 14 15 5
Gump Worsley New York Rangers 65 3900 195 3.00 15 33 17 4
Jim Henry Boston Bruins 27 1548 79 3.06 8 12 6 1
Hank Bassen Chicago Black Hawks 21 1260 63 3.00 4 9 8 0
Al Rollins Chicago Black Hawks 44 2640 149 3.39 9 27 8 0

Stanley Cup Playoffs[]

Playoff Bracket[]

Semifinals Finals
1 Detroit Red Wings 4
3 Toronto Maple Leafs 0
1 Detroit Red Wings 4
2 Montreal Canadiens 3
2 Montreal Canadiens 4
4 Boston Bruins 1

Montreal Canadiens 4, Boston Bruins 1[]

Plante subs in for Hodge, Semi-finals Game 2, March 24, 1955.

For the fourth year in a row Montreal met Boston in the post season. The Canadiens would defeat the Bruins 4 games to 1. In the first three games of the series, Montreal goalies Jacques Plante and Charlie Hodge were continually swapped in and out of goal.

Game 1 at the Montreal Forum had NHL president Clarence Campbell in attendance and security was provided by nearly 300 policemen. Though John Henderson played most of the Bruins regular season games, Jim Henry started in net while Jacques Plante manned the pipes for the Habs. After a scoreless first period, Montreal scored two goals on the Power play in the second period, Bernie Geoffrion and then Jean Béliveau. In a surprising move, Canadiens coach Dick Irvin kept swapping Charlie Hodge and Plante in goal. Neither surrendered a goal and Montreal won 2-0.

Game 2 at the Montreal had John Henderson start in goal for the Bruins while Plante started again for the Canadiens. All goals were scored in the second period. Montreal's Floyd Curry marked first then Irvin again swapped out Plante for Hodge. Montreal made it 3-0 on goals by Calum MacKay and Beliveau before Real Chevrefils scored for Boston. The game ended 3-1 with Montreal taking a 2-0 series lead.

Game 3 at the Boston Garden saw the Bruins bounce back and roar ahead 3-0 on first period goals by Leo Labine, Fern Flaman and Chevrefils. Hal Laycoe added one late in the second period to make it 4-0 Boston. Irvin kept swapping Jacques Plante out for Charlie Hodge and each gave up two goals. Ken Mosdell scored early in the third and Jack LeClair added a Shorthanded goal with a little over a minute left to make it 4-2 Boston.

Bruins Don McKenney and Canadiens Jacques Plante, Tom Johnson and Bert Olmstead during Game 4 of the 1955 Semi-finals, March 29, 1955.

Game 4 at Boston saw Plante in net for the entire game and Jim Henry for the Bruins. After a scoreless first period, Tom Johnson and Don McKenney swapped goals in the second period, followed by Leo Labine and Floyd Curry. Ed Sandford put the Bruins up 3-2 at 8:52 of the third period until Bernie Geoffrion tied it and sent the game into overtime. A minute into OT, Butch Bouchard took a high-sticking penalty. However, Dickie Moore intercepted a Bruins pass and sent Don Marshall in on a breakaway. Marshall fired the puck into the bottom left corner past Henry for his first career playoff goal and a 4-3 Montreal win.

Game 5 at the Montreal saw Henderson replace Henry in the net for Boston as Henry suffered a broken jaw in Game 4. Fern Flaman (foot injury) and Warren Godfrey (hand injury) also missed the game resulting in the call-up of defenseman Don Cherry for his only NHL game. Cherry acquitted himself well but the Bruins were outmatched and Montreal never trailed in the game. Two goals by Jack LeClair and markers by Dickie Moore and Floyd Curry had the Habs up 4-0 before Lorne Ferguson scored on the power play late in the second period to make it 4-1. Beliveau added his third of the playoffs in the third period and Montreal won 5-1 and took the series 4 games to 1.

# Date Visitor Score Home Record
1 March 22 Boston Bruins 0-2 Montreal Canadiens 0-1
2 March 24 Boston Bruins 1-3 Montreal Canadiens 0-2
3 March 27 Montreal Canadiens 2-4 Boston Bruins 2-1
4 March 29 Montreal Canadiens 4-3 (OT) Boston Bruins 3-1
5 March 31 Boston Bruins 1-5 Montreal Canadiens 1-4

Stanley Cup Finals[]

see 1955 Stanley Cup Finals

NHL Awards[]

Prince of Wales Trophy: Detroit Red Wings
Art Ross Memorial Trophy: Bernie Geoffrion, Montreal Canadiens
Calder Memorial Trophy: Ed Litzenberger, Chicago Black Hawks
Hart Memorial Trophy: Ted Kennedy, Toronto Maple Leafs
James Norris Memorial Trophy: Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs
Vezina Trophy: Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings

All-Star Teams[]

First Team   Position   Second Team
Harry Lumley, Toronto Maple Leafs G Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens D Bob Goldham, Detroit Red Wings
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings D Fern Flaman, Boston Bruins
Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens C Ken Mosdell, Montreal Canadiens
Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens RW Bernie Geoffrion, Montreal Canadiens
Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs LW Danny Lewicki, New York Rangers


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1954-55 (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 1954-55 (listed with their last team):

See Also[]



A little over a minute worth of highlights of Semi-finals game 4 which the Red Wings won 3-0 to sweep the Maple Leafs. Goals by Vic Stasiuk and an empty netter by Tony Leswick are shown.


NHL Seasons

1950-51 | 1951-52 | 1952-53 | 1953-54 | 1954-55 | 1955-56 | 1956-57 | 1957-58 | 1958-59