The 1970-71 NHL season was the 54th season of the National Hockey League. Fourteen teams each played 78 games (six games against each opponent). Two new teams, the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks made their debuts and were both put into the East Division. The Chicago Black Hawks were moved to the West Division. Prior to the start of the season, the Oakland Seals were renamed California Golden Seals. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup by beating the Black Hawks in seven games in the finals. From this season through the 2002-03 season, teams wore their white (or yellow) jerseys at home and their dark jerseys on the road.

A new award for the most outstanding player as voted by the members of the NHL Players Association, the Lester B. Pearson Award, was introduced this season and the first winner was Phil Esposito.

Regular seasonEdit

This season saw a marked increase in goal scoring, especially by the Boston Bruins, who shattered dozens of scoring records as they set the mark for most goals by a team (399) by nearly a hundred over the previous record holder. They also set records for most victories (57) and points (121). Phil Esposito set records for most goals in a season with 76 and for most points with 152. Defenceman Bobby Orr won his second consecutive Hart Trophy and set a new record for assists with 102. The Bruins also had the four league leading scorers, the first time in history this was achieved (the only other time being by the Bruins in 1974), and seven of the top ten leading scorers, the only time in NHL history this has ever been achieved.

Boston won the East Division championship in a runaway. In the West Division, the powerful Chicago Black Hawks had been moved there partially to accommodate the expansion Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks (both of which were placed in the East Division) but more in an effort to provide greater balance between the divisions. Chicago broke St. Louis' stranglehold over the division, winning handily over the Blues and advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.

The Montreal Canadiens, who missed the playoffs in 1969-70, appeared to be sinking once more. Players did not like Claude Ruel's dictatorial rule as coach, and Ralph Backstrom and John Ferguson retired. Ruel resigned and Al MacNeil took over. Both Ferguson and Backstrom returned, but Backstrom was later traded to Los Angeles for draft choices.

The Vancouver Canucks played well at first and were around the .500 mark at mid-season. Then Orland Kurtenbach was injured and the team sagged.

On October 29th, Gordie Howe became the first player to record 1000 assists in a 5-3 win over Boston at the Detroit Olympia.

Detroit introduced a fine rookie goaltender, Jim Rutherford, who had bright moments despite the Red Wings last place finish. However, they suffered their worst defeat in franchise history January 2nd, when Toronto crushed them 13-0.

On March 12th, Boston's Phil Esposito broke Bobby Hull's record for goals by a player in a season at 7:03 of the first period on Denis DeJordy of Los Angeles at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Then, at 15:40 he became the first player to score 60 goals. The Bruins won 7-2.

Buffalo had a star, Gilbert Perreault, who on March 18th broke Nels Stewart's (and Danny Grant's, and Norm Ferguson's) rookie record with his 35th goal in a 5-3 win over St. Louis. He went on to finish the season with 38.

Billy Taylor and Don Gallinger, now middle-aged, were finally forgiven for their gambling in 1948 and were reinstated to the NHL. However, they did not return to the NHL.

Final standingsEdit

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold

East Division GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM
Boston Bruins 78 57 14 7 121 399 207 1154
New York Rangers 78 49 18 11 109 259 177 952
Montreal Canadiens 78 42 23 13 97 291 216 1271
Toronto Maple Leafs 78 37 33 8 82 248 211 1133
Buffalo Sabres 78 24 39 15 63 217 291 1188
Vancouver Canucks 78 24 46 8 56 229 296 1371
Detroit Red Wings 78 22 45 11 55 209 308 988
West Division GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM
Chicago Black Hawks 78 49 20 9 107 277 184 1280
St. Louis Blues 78 34 25 19 87 223 208 1092
Philadelphia Flyers 78 28 33 17 73 207 225 1060
Minnesota North Stars 78 28 34 16 72 191 223 898
Los Angeles Kings 78 25 40 13 63 239 303 775
Pittsburgh Penguins 78 21 37 20 62 221 240 1079
California Golden Seals 78 20 53 5 45 199 320 937

Scoring leadersEdit

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Phil Esposito Boston Bruins 78 76 76 152 71
Bobby Orr Boston Bruins 78 37 102 139 91
John Bucyk Boston Bruins 78 51 65 116 8
Ken Hodge Boston Bruins 78 43 62 105 113
Bobby Hull Chicago Black Hawks 78 44 52 96 32
Norm Ullman Toronto Maple Leafs 73 34 51 85 24
Wayne Cashman Boston Bruins 77 21 58 79 100
John McKenzie Boston Bruins 65 31 46 77 120
Dave Keon Toronto Maple Leafs 76 38 38 76 4
Jean Beliveau Montreal Canadiens 70 25 51 76 40
Fred Stanfield Boston Bruins 75 24 52 76 12

Leading goaltendersEdit

Stanley Cup playoffsEdit

A significant controversy arose before the playoffs, where the Minnesota North Stars - having had a substantial lead for third place in the West over the Philadelphia Flyers - lost several games in a row to finish in 4th place by a single point. It was widely rumored that they did so to avoid playing the far superior Chicago Black Hawks, since at this time in the playoffs the first place team played the third place team and the second played the fourth. Nothing was proven against the North Stars (who defeated their first round opponents, St. Louis, four games to two, while the Flyers were swept by the powerful Black Hawks), but the format was changed the following year to the 1-4/2-3 format that prevailed thereafter.

The Montreal Canadiens were matched against the Boston Bruins, and in one of the most extraordinary upsets in hockey history, Ken Dryden was hot in goal for the Canadiens as the Habs beat the Bears in seven games. In game 4, Bobby Orr became the first defenseman to get a hat trick in a playoff game when Boston won 5-2. The Canadiens' upset was so sensational that the Canadiens nearly suffered a fatal letdown against the Minnesota North Stars, but won the series in six games to advance to the finals. John Ferguson of Montreal openly criticized coach Al MacNeil.

New York beat Toronto, but Bobby Hull and the Chicago Black Hawks were just too much for the Rangers and the Black Hawks advanced to the finals in seven games. Hull won two games with goals on face-offs, despite Glen Sather's coverage of him to check him.

Playoff bracketEdit

  Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
  E1  Boston Bruins 3  
E3  Montreal Canadiens 4  
  E3  Montreal Canadiens 4  
  W4  Minnesota North Stars 2  
W2  St. Louis Blues 2
  W4  Minnesota North Stars 4  
    E3  Montreal Canadiens 4
  W1  Chicago Black Hawks 3
  W1  Chicago Black Hawks 4  
W3  Philadelphia Flyers 0  
W1  Chicago Black Hawks 4
  E2  New York Rangers 3  
E2  New York Rangers 4
  E4  Toronto Maple Leafs 2  


see 1971 Stanley Cup Finals

The 1971 Stanley Cup finals were played by the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Black Hawks. The series went the full seven games, with the Canadiens winning in Chicago despite trailing 2-0 halfway into the second period of game seven. Jacques Lemaire took a shot from centre ice that miraculously escaped goaltender Tony Esposito's notice, cutting the Black Hawks' lead to 2-1. Henri Richard tied the game just before the end of the second period, and scored again 2:34 into the third, giving the Habs the lead. Montreal goalie Ken Dryden kept Chicago off the board for the rest of the game, and the Habs won their third Stanley Cup in four years. It was the final game for Canadien superstar and captain Jean Beliveau, who retired after the season. To date, the Canadiens are the last road team to win a Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final. The only other team to do so were the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs. It was Al MacNeil's final game as Montreal coach — after he had benched Richard for Game 5, The Pocket Rocket declared that "[MacNeil] is the worst coach I ever played for!"[1] Although Richard retracted his "angry comment", as he called it, MacNeil still resigned.

NHL awardsEdit

Prince of Wales Trophy: Boston Bruins
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl: Chicago Black Hawks
Art Ross Memorial Trophy: Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers
Calder Memorial Trophy: Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo Sabres
Conn Smythe Trophy: Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy: Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
James Norris Memorial Trophy: Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins
Lester B. Pearson Award: Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
NHL Plus/Minus Award: Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
Vezina Trophy: Eddie Giacomin & Gilles Villemure, New York Rangers
Lester Patrick Trophy: William M. Jennings, John B. Sollenberger, Terrance G. Sawchuk

All-Star teamsEdit

First Team   Position   Second Team
Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers G Jacques Plante, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins D Brad Park, New York Rangers
J.C. Tremblay, Montreal Canadiens D Pat Stapleton, Chicago Blackhawks
Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins C Dave Keon, Toronto Maple Leafs
Ken Hodge, Boston Bruins RW Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens
Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins LW Bobby Hull, Chicago Blackhawks


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1970-71 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last gamesEdit

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1970-71 (listed with their last team):

Team Photos Edit


1970-71 Boston Bruins


1970-71 Montreal Canadiens

See also Edit


  1. Henri Richard. Retrieved on 2006-11-15. “In the 1971 Stanley Cup finals he was reported to have called his coach, Al MacNeil, the worst coach he had ever played under in the NHL.”

NHL seasons

1966-67 | 1967-68 | 1968-69 | 1969-70 | 1970-71 | 1971-72 | 1972-73 | 1973-74 | 1974-75

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