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.
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.
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.
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.
|Detroit Red Wings||70||42||17||11||95||204||134|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||70||24||24||22||70||147||135|
|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.
Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|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|
Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts
|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
|1||Detroit Red Wings||4|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||0|
|1||Detroit Red Wings||4|
Montreal Canadiens 4, Boston Bruins 1
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.
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.
|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
|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|
|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):
- Don McKenney, Boston Bruins
- Don Cherry*, Boston Bruins (also his last season)
- Charlie Hodge, Montreal Canadiens
- Jean-Guy Talbot, Montreal Canadiens
- Lou Fontinato, New York Rangers
- Dick Duff, Toronto Maple Leafs
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):
- Gus Bodnar, Boston Bruins
- Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins
- Jim Henry, Boston Bruins
- Bill Mosienko, Chicago Black Hawks
- Paul Ronty, Montreal Canadiens
- Edgar Laprade, New York Rangers
- Bill Ezinicki, New York Rangers
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- 8th National Hockey League All-Star Game
- National Hockey League All-Star Game
|National Hockey League|
|1954–55 NHL season by team|
|Teams||Boston • Chicago • Detroit • Montreal • New York • Toronto|
|See also||All-Star Game • 1955 Stanley Cup Finals|