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The 1967-68 NHL season was the 51st season of the National Hockey League. Twelve teams each played 74 games. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup against the St. Louis Blues.

League Business

1967-68 Penguins just before the season start.

This season saw the NHL expand from the "Original Six" teams by adding six new franchises. The St. Louis Blues, California Seals, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Los Angeles Kings were all put into the Western Division. On December 8, 1967, the California Seals were renamed the Oakland Seals.[1]

This year also saw the addition of two new awards. With expansion came format change and with format change came a need for a new trophy for the winner of the newly formed West Division. The new trophy, called the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, was for the winner of the West while the older trophy, the Prince of Wales, was now to be given to the winner of the East Division. Because of that, the NHL increased its regular-season schedules from 70 games per club (14 games x five opponents) to 74 games per club (50 games with teams within its own division, 24 games with teams in the opposite division).

The other new award was the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which was named in honour of Bill Masterton who died on 15 January, 1968 after sustaining an injury during a game (the first time a NHL player had ever died directly as a result of an on-ice injury).

The minimum age of players subject to amateur draft was changed to 20.[1]

There were a large number of holdouts this year. Three New York Ranger players, including Rod Gilbert, Arnie Brown and Orland Kurtenbach were fined $500 by their team. However, Ed Van Impe of the Flyers refused to sign his contract, followed by Earl Ingarfield, Al MacNeil, then Tim Horton of Toronto, Norm Ullman of Detroit and Ken Wharram and Stan Mikita of Chicago. Led by Alan Eagleson, the new NHL Players Association was up and running.

Training Camps

Regular Season

On October 11, 1967, Jean Beliveau scored his 400th career goal on goaltender Hank Bassen of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Montreal Canadiens stumbled out of the gate. In their first west coast road trip, the Seals beat them 2-1 and the Kings beat them 4-2. The Habs lost quite a few more and were in last place by December. But by January, Jean Beliveau began to score and others were inspired also. The Habs got very hot, winning 12 consecutive games and then put together 10 more wins to take the East Division lead. Paced by Gump Worsley, who had 6 shutouts and a 1.98 goals against average and backstopped the team to the fewest goals allowed in the league, managed to keep first place thereafter. Worsley, for the first time, made the First All Star team.

After Brian Conacher broke Bobby Orr's nose, a bench clearing brawl broke out, November 5, 1967.

The November 6, 1967 Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs match saw a bench clearing brawl at 5:28 of the second period. With the Bruins leading 1-0 on an Orr Power play goal, Leafs Brian Conacher was killing a penalty and dumped the puck into the Bruins zone as Bobby Orr approached him. Conacher's stick came up and broke Orr's nose. John McKenzie starting pummelling Conacher, who fell to the ice. Orr then joined in on beating Conacher, which resulted in the Leafs bench clearing, followed by the Bruins. It was the first bench clearing brawl in the league since December 6, 1963. The game ended in a 2-2 tie.

Garry Unger's 1st NHL goal, November 18, 1967.

J. P. Parisé played his only game for the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 15, 1967 in a 4-2 win over the Bruins and recorded an assist. Having signed a contract with Toronto, Garry Unger was given a regular shift with Pete Stemkowski and Jim Pappin for the November 18, 1967 game versus the Chicago Black Hawks. Trailing 1-0 early in the second period, Stemkowski dug the puck out of the corner and his centering pass caromed to Unger who whacked in his first NHL goal past Denis DeJordy.

The Seals started the season as the "California Seals" but changed their name to the "Oakland Seals" on December 8, 1967.

Frank Mahovlich breaks Bobby Orr's collarbone, December 9, 1967.

Disaster struck during the December 9, 1967 Bruins-Leafs game in Toronto. In the first period while killing a penalty to Skip Krake, Bobby Orr began to carry the puck from in front of the Bruins net. He was hit with a clean check by Frank Mahovlich which broke his left collarbone. Amazingly, Orr played another penalty-killing shift before leaving the game. Later, a Mahovlich slap shot hit Ted Green above the knee and he was forced to leave the game. Green's injury caused him to miss only two games but Orr was out until Christmas.

On February 24, 1968, Rogatien Vachon of Montreal was the victim of four goals by Rod Gilbert, who set an NHL record with 16 shots on goal.

Ed Giacomin again led the league with 8 shutouts, and led the Rangers to second place, bolstered by Jean Ratelle's emergence into stardom.

Boston obtained Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield in a blockbuster trade with Chicago. This trade, as shown over time, heavily favored the Bruins. Coinciding with the rise of Bobby Orr, led to an improvement in Boston's play, and the Bruins led the league in scoring behind Esposito's 84 points and made the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. Though he missed action with two shoulder injuries and a knee injury, Orr still won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman.

By contrast, the Chicago Black Hawks fell into a tailspin, and despite the scoring heroics of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, were hard pressed to make the playoffs. Mediocre team defense and goaltending was the culprit.

Roger Crozier felt the strain of goaltending and walked out on Detroit. He came back, but the Red Wings finished last anyway in the East Division, despite a potent offense led by Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio and Norm Ullman. Even a late season trade of Ullman and Paul Henderson for Toronto star Frank Mahovlich and future Blues star Garry Unger was too little, too late. However, on March 24, 1968, Mahovlich became only the 11th player to score 300 goals as he scored both his 300th and 301st goals in a 5-3 win over the Boston Bruins.

Meanwhile, the defending Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs, still steady on defense in front of elder statesman Johnny Bower and backup Bruce Gamble, had numerous problems. Mahovlich spent time in hospital with a nervous breakdown, and the season was marred by contract disputes and tension with the high-strung coach, Punch Imlach. A late season charge failed to win a playoff berth.

John Bucyk scores on Bernie Parent, January 20, 1968.

In the West Division, the Philadelphia Flyers became the first regular season champion of the expansion clubs. While their offense was poor (career minor-league Leon Rochefort led the team with just 21 goals), Boston Bruins goaltendering products Bernie Parent and Doug Favell showed surprising form. With hardnosed players as Gary Dornhoefer, Ed Van Impe, Larry Zeidel and Forbes Kennedy, the team showed the first glimmers of the "Broad Street Bullies" of future years.

Brian Smith scores his first career goal, October 22, 1967.

The Los Angeles Kings were a team that writers predicted to finish last in the new West Division. [2] Owner Jack Kent Cooke had purchased the American Hockey League's Springfield Indians for $1 million to bolster the Kings roster. Surprisingly, the Kings finished second, just one point out of first. Bill Flett scored 26 goals, while Eddie Joyal scored 23 goals, adding 34 assists for 57 points and was the second leading scorer in the West Division.

Gerry Melnyk from Don McKenney and Red Berenson, December 27, 1967.

Glenn Hall may have been deemed too old by the Black Hawks, which left him unprotected in the expansion draft, but not for the St. Louis Blues, who rode his five shutouts to a third place finish. But the season turning point for the Blues was the hiring of Scotty Bowman as coach in late November 1967. Soon after, on November 29, St. Louis made a trade with the New York Rangers that would shape the franchise for the next decade. Red Berenson and Barclay Plager were acquired for Ron Stewart and Ron Attwell. Both immediately became regulars, both would become captain of the team and Plager would play his entire career for the Blues. Berenson led the Blues in scoring in 1967-68, more than doubling his career point total in only 55 games.

First goal of Gerry Ehman's hat trick, January 7, 1968.

The Oakland Seals were predicted to finish first. The team started the season well, winning their first game 5-1 on October 11, 1967 over the Philadelphia Flyers with Kent Douglas scoring the first goal in franchise history. The Seals then beat the Minnesota North Stars 6-0 in their second game with Charlie Hodge earning the shutout. However, the team then went on a 14 game winless streak and never recovered. The Kings were the only team the Seals had some success against. In January 1968, Oakland won all three games versus Los Angeles, including shutting them out twice. Gerry Ehman had the Seals only Hat trick of the season in one of these games, on January 7, 1968 in a 6-0 win. The season series ended 4-4-2 between the teams. The Seals finished last in the West Division.

Les Binkley stops Eddie Shack, October 29, 1967.

The Pittsburgh Penguins finished fifth, led by former Ranger star Andy Bathgate. Behind an elderly roster, nine of their top ten scorers and both of their goaltenders were over thirty, they could neither muster much offense nor defense. Goalie Les Binkley played 54 games and had 20 wins.

On December 13, 1967, the Minnesota North Stars and Cesare Maniago achieved the first shutout in team history, defeating the Los Angeles Kings 4-0. Maniago and the North Stars went on a shutout streak, beating the Kings 3-0 on December 15 and the Oakland Seals 1-0 on December 16.

Bill Masterton sets up Dave Balon, January 3, 1968.

Maniago had his 4th shutout on January 3, 1968 as the Stars blanked the Kings for the third time, by 6-0. Maniago finished the season with 6 shutouts, tied for second best in the league and the most in a season in his career. On December 30, 1967, Bill Masterton and Wayne Connelly each scored goals in a 5-4 upset win over the Boston Bruins. On January 10, Connelly, who would finish the season with 35 goals to lead his team and the West Division, had a hat trick in a 6-4 win over West Division powerhouse, the Philadelphia Flyers and Masterton was the architect of all three goals. The Stars finished fourth in the West Division.

Bill Masterton being stretchered off, January 13, 1968.

Tragedy struck the league on January 13, 1968. In a game at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Oakland Seals were in town to play the North Stars and Bill Masterton led a rush into the Oakland zone. Two defenceman, Larry Cahan and Ron Harris braced for a sandwich check and as Masterton fired the puck into the Seals zone, the two hit Masterton hard but cleanly. Masterton flipped backwards and hit his head on the ice. He was removed to a Minneapolis hospital where doctors were prevented from doing surgery by the seriousness of the head injury. Early on the morning of January 15, 1968, Bill Masterton died. He was the first player to die as the direct result of injuries suffered in an NHL game, the only such incident in a professional game since 1907.

Ted Green and Doug Mohns stick-swinging incident, January 21, 1968.

During the January 21, 1968 Bruins-Black Hawks game, ex-Bruin Doug Mohns initiated a stick swinging incident with Ted Green. Stan Mikita, Kenny Wharram and Mohns had all begun wearing helmets in the wake of the death of Bill Masterton and played on the same line. Mohns' helmet saved him from serious injury as Green's stick made contact with his head. Both were given game misconducts but no suspensions.

Stick swinging incident between Eddie Shack and Larry Zeidel, March 7, 1968.

On February 7, 1968, the Bruins played the Flyers at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. At 9:33 of the first period, Eddie Shack and Larry Zeidel collided. In a grudge going back 10 years, Zeidel swung his stick twice at Shack, hitting his shoulder and then his head. Shack retaliated, resulting in both players suffering head injuries and bleeding profusely. Both were given game misconducts. Zeidel then rushed the Bruins bench and later claimed that insults about him being Jewish was the cause. Later, while Shack was being stitched up, Zeidel tried to attack him in the infirmary. The Bruins triumphed 2-1 for their fifth consecutive win. NHL President Clarence Campbell viewed game footage and declared Zeidel the instigator and suspended him for 4 games while Shack received 3.

On March 1, 1968, a portion of the roof of the Philadelphia Spectrum blew off. The Flyers were forced to play "home" games in other arenas while repairs were affected. On March 3, 1968, the Flyers played the Oakland Seals in an afternoon game at Madison Square Garden. That evening at MSG, the Rangers played the Black Hawks, making it the first double-header in NHL history.

Norm Ullman from Paul Henderson, March 9, 1968.

With playoff chances fading, the Red Wings made a blockbuster trade with the Maple Leafs on March 3, 1968, sending Norm Ullman, Paul Henderson, Floyd Smith and Doug Barrie in exchange for Frank Mahovlich, Pete Stemkowski, Garry Unger and the rights to Carl Brewer. The teams met less than a week later on March 9 at Maple Leaf Gardens. Detroit took a 4-0 lead, led by Mahovlich's goal and two assists. However, Ullman turned the tide with two goals and an assist as Toronto came back to win 7-5. Despite excellent performances from Mahovlich, Ullman, Unger and Henderson for the rest of the season, both teams missed the playoffs.

Final Standings

East Division
Montreal Canadiens 74 42 22 10 236 167 94
New York Rangers 74 39 23 12 226 183 90
Boston Bruins 74 37 27 10 259 216 84
Chicago Black Hawks 74 32 26 16 212 222 80
Toronto Maple Leafs 74 33 31 10 209 176 76
Detroit Red Wings 74 27 35 12 245 257 66
West Division
Philadelphia Flyers 74 31 32 11 173 179 73
Los Angeles Kings 74 31 33 10 200 224 72
St. Louis Blues 74 27 31 16 177 191 70
Minnesota North Stars 74 27 32 15 191 226 69
Pittsburgh Penguins 74 27 34 13 195 216 67
Oakland Seals 74 15 42 17 153 219 47

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
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 PIM
Stan Mikita Chicago Black Hawks 72 40 47 87 14
Phil Esposito Boston Bruins 74 35 49 84 21
Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings 74 39 43 82 53
Jean Ratelle New York Rangers 74 32 46 78 18
Rod Gilbert New York Rangers 74 29 48 77 12
Bobby Hull Chicago Black Hawks 71 44 31 75 39
Norm Ullman Toronto Maple Leafs 71 35 37 72 28
Alex Delvecchio Detroit Red Wings 74 22 48 70 14
John Bucyk Boston Bruins 72 30 39 69 8
Ken Wharram Chicago Black Hawks 74 27 42 69 18

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
Gump Worsley Montreal Canadiens 40 2213 73 1.98 19 9 8 6
Johnny Bower Toronto Maple Leafs 43 2239 84 2.25 14 18 7 4
Doug Favell Philadelphia Flyers 37 2192 83 2.27 15 15 6 4
Bruce Gamble Toronto Maple Leafs 41 2204 85 2.32 19 13 3 5
Eddie Giacomin New York Rangers 66 3940 160 2.44 36 20 10 8
Glenn Hall St. Louis Blues 49 2858 118 2.48 19 21 9 5
Rogie Vachon Montreal Canadiens 39 2227 92 2.48 23 13 2 4
Bernie Parent Philadelphia Flyers 38 2248 93 2.48 16 17 5 4
Seth Martin St. Louis Blues 30 1552 67 2.59 8 10 7 1
Denis DeJordy Chicago Black Hawks 50 2838 128 2.71 23 15 11 4

Stanley Cup Playoffs

Playoff Bracket

Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
1 Montreal Canadiens 4
3 Boston Bruins 0
1 Montreal Canadiens 4
East Division
4 Chicago Black Hawks 1
2 New York Rangers 2
4 Chicago Black Hawks 4
E1 Montreal Canadiens 4
W3 St. Louis Blues 0
1 Philadelphia Flyers 3
3 St. Louis Blues 4
3 St. Louis Blues 4
West Division
4 Minnesota North Stars 3
2 Los Angeles Kings 3
4 Minnesota North Stars 4

Montreal Canadiens 4, Boston Bruins 0

The teams last met a decade before in the 1958 Stanley Cup Finals where Montreal prevailed 4 games to 2. The 1968 series was characterized by Montreal taking advantage of chances and then playing excellent defensive hockey to hold leads. Canadiens veteran Gump Worsley outplayed Gerry Cheevers, particularly in Game 3. Bobby Orr was still recovering from the first surgery on his left knee, made few rushes and notched only two assists in the series.

Game 1 at the Montreal Forum was a very rough game where the teams tried to establish a physical edge. The teams' tough men, Boston's Ted Green and Montreal's John Ferguson fought in the first period while rookies Derek Sanderson and Danny Grant fought in the second period. Ken Hodge opening the scoring with his first career playoff goal, equalized by Henri Richard in the first period. Montreal pressed and outshot Boston 35-22 and Claude Provost netted the winner at 14:40 of the third period for a 2-1 Canadiens win.

Game 2 at Montreal was a tamer affair but the Canadiens once again outshot and out chanced the Bruins. In the first period, Jacques Lemaire opened the scoring with his first career playoff goal but Ken Hodge responded. In the second period, Jacques Laperriere scored and then Lemaire's second of the game staked Montreal to a 3-1 lead. With Jean Béliveau and Claude Provost both in the penalty box, Ted Green potted his first career playoff goal on the 5 on 3 Power play to cut the lead to 3-2. In the third period, Dick Duff and John McKenzie traded goals 23 seconds apart. The Bruins fought to tie up the game but Beliveau sealed the Canadiens 5-3 win.

Game 3 at the Boston Garden saw the Bruins out chance the Canadiens, particularly in the first ten minutes of the game. Ed Westfall opened the scoring and Gump Worsley made several excellent saves, particularly on Tom Williams. Jean Beliveau tipped in a Jacques Laperriere shot on the power play to tie the game 1-1. Derek Sanderson took undisciplined penalties at the end of the first period and at 6:50 of the second period which took the pressure off Montreal. On the power play, Claude Provost beat Cheevers with a long, unscreened shot that demoralized the Bruins. After that, the defensemen overcompensated and tried to block all Montreal's shots instead of checking. Dallas Smith failed to block a Ralph Backstrom shot which slide past Cheevers and later in the period, the Bruins were out-manned in front of their net and John Ferguson tapped in a goal mouth pass to make it 4-1. A Tom Williams spinning shot beat Worsley with five seconds left in the second period to make it 4-2. The Bruins pressed in the third period but Worsley was excellent, stopping Williams on a breakaway. Ted Green hit the post on a slap shot from the point and then Dick Duff scored to make it 5-2. The Bruins had few chances after Duff's goal and Montreal took a 3-0 series lead.

Game 4 at Boston was the only game of the series that the Bruins outshot the Canadiens. After a scoreless first period, Ed Westfall opened the scoring 49 seconds into the second period. Claude Larose then took over the game, evening the score at 12:58 of the second period and staking Montreal to a 2-1 lead at 7:20 of the third. He then set up Ralph Backstrom with less than four minutes to play in the game. Ken Hodge made it 3-2 with 1:26 left to play but Montreal hung on to sweep the Bruins in four games.

# Date Visitor Score Home Record
1 April 4 Boston Bruins 1-2 Montreal Canadiens 0-1
2 April 6 Boston Bruins 3-5 Montreal Canadiens 0-2
3 April 9 Montreal Canadiens 5-2 Boston Bruins 3-0
4 April 11 Montreal Canadiens 3-2 Boston Bruins 4-0

St. Louis Blues 4, Minnesota North Stars 3

Ron Schock wins Game 7 of the 1968 Semi-finals in double OT, May 3, 1968.

The West Division Final between the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota North Stars was one of the closest seven game series in NHL history. Games 2 (won by Minnesota on Parker MacDonald's goal), 4 (won by St. Louis' Gary Sabourin's goal) and 5 (won by St. Louis' Bill McCreary, Sr.'s goal) all went to overtime. Game 7 went to double overtime and was won by the Blues Ron Schock's breakaway goal.

Stanley Cup Finals

see 1968 Stanley Cup Finals

NHL Awards

1967-68 NHL Awards
Prince of Wales Trophy: Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl: Philadelphia Flyers
Art Ross Memorial Trophy: Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: Claude Provost, Montreal Canadiens
Calder Memorial Trophy: Derek Sanderson, Boston Bruins
Conn Smythe Trophy: Glenn Hall, St. Louis Blues
Hart Memorial Trophy: Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
James Norris Memorial Trophy: Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
Plus-Minus Leader: Dallas Smith, Boston Bruins
Vezina Trophy: Rogatien Vachon & Gump Worsley, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy: Thomas F. Lockhart, Walter A. Brown, General John R. Kilpatrick

All-Star Teams

First Team   Position   Second Team
Gump Worsley, Montreal Canadiens G Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins D J.C. Tremblay, Montreal Canadiens
Tim Horton, Toronto Maple Leafs D Jim Neilson, New York Rangers
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks C Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings RW Rod Gilbert, New York Rangers
Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks LW Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1967-68 (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 1967-68 (listed with their last team):



Blues-Leafs game from December 30, 1967.

Nearly three hours of video from the Bruins-Maple Leafs game on January 6, 1968. All goals are shown including one by Bobby Orr which tied the game 3-3. An interview with Derek Sanderson is shown in the first intermission. During the second intermission, highlights from the December 27, 1967 Bruins-Black Hawks game are shown including a Hat trick by Phil Esposito. Milt Schmidt is then interviewed.

Leafs-Black Hawks game from March 10, 1968.

Nearly an hour of footage from the Bruins-Canadiens Game 3 of the 1968 Semi-finals on April 9, 1968.

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 NHL Guide & Record Book 2005. 
  2. Brian McFarlane, 50 Years of Hockey, p. 140-143, Greywood Publishing Ltd, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

NHL Seasons

1963-64 | 1964-65 | 1965-66 | 1966-67 | 1967-68 | 1968-69 | 1969-70 | 1970-71 | 1971-72