The 1971-72 NHL season was the 55th season of the National Hockey League. Fourteen teams each played 78 games. The Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers four games to two for their second Stanley Cup in three seasons in the finals.
Four players were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this year. They were recently deceased Toronto star Busher Jackson, Detroit legend Terry Sawchuk, oldtimer Gordon Roberts, and ex-Bruin and Senator star Cooney Weiland. Arthur Wirtz, the powerful long-time owner of the Chicago Black Hawks, was inducted as a Builder.
Among notable first year players this season were Montreal's Guy Lafleur, who despite scoring 29 goals was felt lacking in comparison to newly-retired superstar Jean Beliveau by the Canadiens' faithful. Buffalo's Rick Martin set a new record for goals by a rookie with 44. Gilles Meloche was the goaltender for the hapless California Golden Seals and Ken Dryden, the sensational new goalie for the Canadiens, who despite winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP the previous season was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year, on the grounds that he had only played six prior regular season games.
43-year-old Gump Worsley, left unprotected (and unclaimed) in the waiver draft by the Minnesota North Stars, led the league with a 2.12 goals against average. Less fortunately, Philadelphia goaltender Bruce Gamble suffered a heart attack during a 3-1 win in Vancouver in February and was forced to retire from hockey.
In what was widely seen as preemptive moves to help forestall the incipient World Hockey Association, the NHL announced that Atlanta and Long Island had been granted expansion franchises to start in the 1972-73 season. The bids had been hastily put together in comparison with the 1967 and 1971 expansions.
Milestones this season included Gerry Cheevers setting an NHL record for the Boston Bruins (which has yet to be surpassed) with 33 straight undefeated games. On February 12, it was Gordie Howe Day in Detroit as his famous #9 was retired. On March 25, Bobby Hull scored his 600th NHL goal in a 5-5 tie with Boston at the Boston Garden.
An exciting scoring race in which Ranger Jean Ratelle had been leading Bruin Phil Esposito was short-circuited when Ratelle suffered a serious injury costing him over a month of play. Ratelle finished third in scoring behind Esposito and Bruin Bobby Orr, while his teammates Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert finished fourth and fifth. A resurgent Frank Mahovlich, rejuvenated by a trade to Montreal, finished sixth, while Bobby Hull, in his final year in Chicago, finished seventh in points and second to Esposito in goals.
Although they had fallen somewhat from their overwhelming offensive dominance from the previous season, once again the Boston Bruins had the best record in the league and once again the Chicago Black Hawks had the best record in the West Division.
|New York Rangers||78||48||17||13||317||192||109|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||78||33||31||14||209||208||80|
|Detroit Red Wings||78||33||35||10||261||262||76|
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.
|Chicago Black Hawks||78||46||17||15||256||166||107|
|Minnesota North Stars||78||37||29||12||212||191||86|
|St. Louis Blues||78||28||39||11||208||247||67|
|California Golden Seals||78||21||39||18||216||288||60|
|Los Angeles Kings||78||20||49||9||206||305||49|
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.
|Phil Esposito||Boston Bruins||76||66||67||133||76|
|Bobby Orr||Boston Bruins||76||37||80||117||106|
|Jean Ratelle||New York Rangers||63||46||63||109||4|
|Vic Hadfield||New York Rangers||78||50||56||106||142|
|Rod Gilbert||New York Rangers||73||43||54||97||64|
|Frank Mahovlich||Montreal Canadiens||76||43||53||96||36|
|Bobby Hull||Chicago Black Hawks||78||59||43||93||24|
|Yvan Cournoyer||Montreal Canadiens||73||47||36||83||15|
|Johnny Bucyk||Boston Bruins||78||32||51||83||4|
|Bobby Clarke||Philadelphia Flyers||78||35||46||81||87|
Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts
|Tony Esposito||Chicago Black Hawks||48||2780||82||1.77||31||10||6||9|
|Gilles Villemure||New York Rangers||37||2129||74||2.09||24||7||4||3|
|Lorne Worsley||Minnesota North Stars||34||1923||68||2.12||16||10||7||2|
|Ken Dryden||Montreal Canadiens||64||3800||142||2.24||39||8||15||8|
|Gary Smith||Chicago Black Hawks||28||1540||62||2.42||14||5||6||5|
|Gerry Cheevers||Boston Bruins||41||2420||101||2.50||27||5||8||2|
|Jacques Caron||St. Louis Blues||28||1619||68||2.52||14||8||5||1|
|Bernie Parent||Toronto Maple Leafs||47||2715||116||2.56||17||18||9||3|
|Jacques Plante||Toronto Maple Leafs||34||1965||86||2.63||16||13||5||2|
|Cesare Maniago||Minnesota North Stars||43||2539||112||2.65||20||17||4||3|
Stanley Cup PlayoffsEdit
The New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, before sweeping the Chicago Black Hawks in four straight games in the semifinals. Chicago had beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins in four straight games.
Boston easily handled the Toronto Maple Leafs in five games, facing a St. Louis Blues team that had eked out a hard-fought seven game victory against the North Stars in the quarter finals. The powerful Bruins set a record for the most goals in a four game series by pounding the Blues 28-8 over a four-game sweep.
|E4||Toronto Maple Leafs||1|
|W3||St. Louis Blues||0|
|W2||Minnesota North Stars||3|
|W3||St. Louis Blues||4|
|E2||New York Rangers||2|
|W1||Chicago Black Hawks||4|
|W1||Chicago Black Hawks||0|
|E2||New York Rangers||4|
|E2||New York Rangers||4|
Boston Bruins 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1Edit
The Bruins and Leafs had last met in the 1969 Quarter-finals where the Bruins swept the series in four games. This series was much closer, with three games being decided by one goal. However, the Bruins prevailed in five games led by Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr who both had nine points.
Game 1 at the Boston Garden saw a scoreless first period. Phil Esposito opened the scoring at 17:24 of the second period, roofing a pass from Wayne Cashman over the shoulder of Jacques Plante. A little over two minutes later, Esposito scored his second off a rebound from a Bobby Orr wrap around. Completing a solo rush with a backhand shot, Don Marcotte made it 3-0 Boston at 3:47 of the third period. A beautiful Esposito pass to John McKenzie speeding up the right wing saw him flip it over Plante at 15:27. Right off the center ice faceoff, Fred Stanfield took a John Bucyk pass and fired a shot over Plante's shoulder eleven seconds after McKenzie's goal. Gerry Cheevers was stellar, earning a shutout, as the Bruins won 5-0.
Game 2 at Boston saw Bernie Parent start in goal for the Leafs. After Fred Stanfield and Phil Esposito put the Bruins up 2-0 in the first period, the Leafs countered with early second period goals by Dave Keon and Jim McKenny at 3:47. Less than a minute later, John Bucyk put the Bruins up 3-2, finishing off a great passing play from Stanfield and John McKenzie. At 9:42 of the third period, Dave Keon stripped Phil Esposito of the puck at the Leafs blueline and sent Guy Trottier in on a partial breakaway. Trottier scored with a low shot to Cheever's glove side to tie the game 3-3. Parent held the fort against many Boston chances, including poke checking the puck away from Bobby Orr as he broke in with ten seconds left in regulation. At 2:47 of overtime, Jim Harrison blasted a shot past Cheevers from just inside the Bruins blueline as Toronto took the game 4-3 and tied the series at one game each.
Game 3 at Maple Leaf Gardens saw Eddie Johnston replace Cheevers in net for Boston while Parent started again for Toronto. A real goaltender's battle ensued as the first period was scoreless, despite six power plays. Penalties caught up to the Leafs in the second period as with Darryl Sittler in the box, Mike Walton blasted a point shot past Parent at 18:38. Early in the third period, Guy Trottier took a tripping penalty. Parent tried to clear a bouncing puck but hit Ken Hodge. Wayne Cashman retrieved it and passed to Orr in the slot. His shot beat Parent low to the stick side to give the Bruins an insurance goal. Johnston stopped all 30 Leafs shots, earning a shutout as the Bruins prevailed 2-0.
Game 4 at Toronto saw Ed Johnston and Bernie Parent start in goal again. Persistence by Carol Vadnais in the Leafs zone resulting in the opening goal by John Bucyk at 16:36 of the first period. However, a little over a minute later, Dave Keon's wicked slapshot from the point tied the game. In the second period, the Leafs took advantage of special teams, first with Ron Ellis tapping in a feed from Paul Henderson on the power play. While killing a penalty, Jim McKenney stripped Wayne Cashman of the puck at the Leafs blueline and scored on a breakaway to make it 3-1 Toronto heading into the third period. Ken Hodge appeared to start a comeback when he scored at 1:15 until Henderson scored off an Ellis rebound at 4:50. After assisting on Hodge's goal, Orr then took over. While short handed, he poked the puck off Dave Keon's stick to Derek Sanderson who passed it to Ed Westfall speeding up the right wing. His shot flew by Parent's stick to cut the Leafs lead to 4-3. Less than two minutes later, Orr rushed into Toronto's zone and eventually found Phil Esposito in the slot. His one-timer went over Parent's shoulder to tie the game 4-4. The Bruins completed the comeback at 16:11 as after winning a faceoff in the Leafs zone, Esposito took advantage of a Mike Pelyk miscue and saw his pass go into off Hodge's skate for the 5-4 game winner.
Game 5 at Boston saw Cheevers in goal for Boston while Parent remained in net for Toronto. Jim McKenney opened the scoring with his third of the series at 11:12 of the first period on the power play. On their own power play at 15:42, Fred Stanfield fired a low point shot past Parent, who was playing with a broken stick. At 5:18 of the second period, John McKenzie one-timed a beautiful John Bucyk centering pass to make it 2-1 Bruins. Parent held the Leafs in the game in the third period until Norm Ullman took advantage of Phil Esposito losing the puck by the Bruins net and roofed a shot at 6:09 to tie the game 2-2. Determined to make up for his mistake, less than two minutes later, Esposito took a Wayne Cashman pass in front of the Leafs net, slid a pass to Ken Hodge who whacked it past Parent's stick to make it 3-2 as Boston took the series in five games.
|1||April 5||Toronto Maple Leafs||0-5||Boston Bruins||0-1|
|2||April 6||Toronto Maple Leafs||4-3 (OT)||Boston Bruins||1-1|
|3||April 8||Boston Bruins||2-0||Toronto Maple Leafs||2-1|
|4||April 9||Boston Bruins||5-4||Toronto Maple Leafs||3-1|
|5||April 11||Toronto Maple Leafs||2-3||Boston Bruins||1-4|
Boston Bruins 4, St. Louis Blues 0Edit
The Bruins and Blues last met in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals where the Bruins swept the series in four games, highlighted by Bobby Orr's overtime winner in Game 4. Despite missing Derek Sanderson for the entire series, the Bruins swept the Blues again, winning three of the games easily. John Bucyk scored 4 goals and 13 points in the series.
Game 1 at the Boston Garden saw Eddie Johnston start in net for the Bruins and Jacques Caron for the Blues. Garry Peters dressed in his only playoff game of the year. Garry Unger opened the scoring on the power play at 3:18 of the first period, but that's all the scoring St. Louis mustered. While the Blues effectively checked the Phil Esposito line, the second line of Fred Stanfield, John Bucyk and John McKenzie ran rampant. Stanfield tied the game a little over a minute after Unger's goal before Mike Walton put the Bruins up for good. Bucyk added a goal at 17:24 to make it 3-1 Boston. At 5:39 of the second period, Curt Bennett and Carol Vadnais fought which resulted in a melee. Don Awrey was given a game misconduct for being the third man in. Stanfield scored at 10:48 on the power play and then completed the Hat trick at 19:32. Caron was pulled for Ernie Wakely to start the third period. Esposito scored at 14:44 on the power play to compete the Bruins 6-1 win.
Game 2 at Boston saw Gerry Cheevers man the pipes for Boston while Caron started for St. Louis. As in Game 1, the Blues had no answer for the Bruins offensive depth. Bucyk opened the scoring at 7:17 of the first period on the power play before Esposito added a goal a minute later. The Bruins third line of Mike Walton, Garnet Bailey and Ed Westfall combined for a goal at 9:54. In the second period, Bailey scored at 6:33, resulting in Caron being pulled for Ernie Wakely. John McKenzie scored on the power play shortly after to make it 5-0 Bruins. Bucyk scored his second of the game at 3:47 of the third period on the power play. The Blues scored two quick goals by Mike Murphy and Phil Roberto to cut the lead to 6-2. Any hope of a comeback was quickly dashed as Boston scored four goals in the last ten minutes of the game. Walton, Don Marcotte, Bucyk and Westfall were the markers as the Bruins trounced the Blues 10-2. Bucyk had a hat trick and four points while Bailey also had four points. Incredibly, St. Louis out shot Boston 33-31.
Game 3 at the St. Louis Arena saw Ed Johnston back in net for Boston and the Blues go with third-string goalie Peter McDuffe. Chris Hayes played the only NHL game of his career. Mike Murphy opened the scoring for the Blues at 2:05 of the first period, slipping a shot between Johnston's pads on the power play. The Blues were on another power play six minutes later when Ed Westfall picked off a Barclay Plager pass and went in on a breakaway. He deked McDuffe and roofed his shot to make it 1-1. On a Bruins power play, John McKenzie deflected a Bobby Orr shot in at 10:36. With seconds left in the period, Ken Hodge's pass from the corner to Phil Esposito saw him lift it over McDuffe to make it 3-1 Bruins. At 2:58 of the second period, Mike Walton scored before Ken Hodge deked Barclay Plager at the St. Louis blueline and blasted a slapshot between McDuffe's pads. At 11:12 on the power play, John McKenzie corralled a John Bucyk rebound and shot it over McDuffe's shoulder for a 6-1 Bruins lead. In the third period, Walton intercepted an errant Gary Sabourin pass and put a low shot in at 11:09. Sabourin scored a consolation goal with less than two minutes left as Boston won 7-2 and took a three games to none stranglehold on the series.
Game 4 at St. Louis saw the Bruins continue to rotate their goalies with Gerry Cheevers starting while Jacques Caron was back in net for the Blues. This was the closest game of the series, with St. Louis out shooting Boston 36-27, but penalties would be the Blues undoing. Only 1:29 into the game, Phil Esposito fired a Wayne Cashman rebound past Caron to make it 1-0. At 9:27 on the power play, Esposito kept the puck in the Blues zone, passed to Fred Stanfield who found John Bucyk alone in front of the net. His shot to Caron's glove side made it 2-0 Bruins. Terry Crisp cut the lead to 2-1 late in the period. With Garry Unger in the box, Bucyk scored his second power play goal of the game at 4:44 of the second period. At 17:53 on the power play, Esposito took a John McKenzie pass in the right slot and fired a shot past Caron's stick to make it 4-1. In the third period, Cheevers continued to hold the Blues at bay until 9:50 when André Dupont fired a slapshot that eluded him. At 15:25, Chris Evans beat Cheevers with a point shot to make it 4-3. That was as close as St. Louis came as Wayne Cashman scored his first goal of the playoffs into an empty net for a 5-3 Bruins win and a series sweep.
|1||April 18||St. Louis Blues||1-6||Boston Bruins||0-1|
|2||April 20||St. Louis Blues||2-10||Boston Bruins||0-2|
|3||April 23||Boston Bruins||7-2||St. Louis Blues||3-0|
|4||April 25||Boston Bruins||5-3||St. Louis Blues||4-0|
Boston Bruins 4, New York Rangers 2Edit
|1||April 30||New York Rangers||5-6||Boston Bruins||0-1|
|2||May 2||New York Rangers||1-2||Boston Bruins||0-2|
|3||May 4||Boston Bruins||2-5||New York Rangers||2-1|
|4||May 7||Boston Bruins||3-2||New York Rangers||3-1|
|5||May 9||New York Rangers||3-2||Boston Bruins||2-3|
|6||May 11||Boston Bruins||3-0||New York Rangers||4-2|
|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:||Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers|
|Calder Memorial Trophy:||Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens|
|Conn Smythe Trophy:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Hart Memorial Trophy:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:||Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers|
|Lester B. Pearson Award:||Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers|
|NHL Plus/Minus Award:||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Vezina Trophy:||Tony Esposito & Gary Smith, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Lester Patrick Trophy:||Clarence S. Campbell, John A. "Snooks" Kelley, Ralph "Cooney" Weiland, James D. Norris|
|First Team||Position||Second Team|
|Tony Esposito, Chicago Black Hawks||G||Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens|
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins||D||Bill White, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Brad Park, New York Rangers||D||Pat Stapleton, Chicago Blackhawks|
|Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins||C||Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers|
|Rod Gilbert, New York Rangers||RW||Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens|
|Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks||LW||Vic Hadfield, New York Rangers|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1971-72 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
- Terry O'Reilly, Boston Bruins
- Rick Martin, Buffalo Sabres
- Craig Ramsay, Buffalo Sabres
- Marcel Dionne, Detroit Red Wings
- Billy Smith, Los Angeles Kings
- Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
- Bill Clement, Philadelphia Flyers
- Dave Schultz, Philadelphia Flyers
- Mike Murphy, St. Louis Blues
- Wayne Stephenson, St. Louis Blues
- Rick Kehoe, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Jocelyn Guevremont, Vancouver Canucks
- Dennis Kearns, Vancouver Canucks
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1971-72 listed with their last team):
- John McKenzie, Boston Bruins
- Ted Green, Boston Bruins
- Dick Duff, Buffalo Sabres
- Eric Nesterenko, Chicago Black Hawks
- Ab McDonald, Detroit Red Wings
- Bob Pulford, Los Angeles Kings
- J.C. Tremblay, Montreal Canadiens
- Phil Goyette, New York Rangers
- Val Fonteyne, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Bill Hicke, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Brit Selby, St. Louis Blues
- Don Marshall, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Rosaire Paiement, Vancouver Canucks
Brief highlights of the 1972 Rangers-Canadiens Quarter-finals, Rangers-Black Hawks Semi-finals, Bruins-Leafs Quarter-finals and Bruins-Blues Semi-finals before highlights of all six games of the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals.
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- 1971 NHL Amateur Draft
- 25th National Hockey League All-Star Game
- National Hockey League All-Star Game
|1971-72 NHL season by team|
|East||Boston • Buffalo • Detroit • Montreal • NY Rangers • Toronto • Vancouver|
|West||Chicago • Los Angeles • Minnesota • Oakland • Philadelphia • Pittsburgh • St. Louis|
|See also||1971 NHL Entry Draft • All-Star Game • 1972 Stanley Cup Finals|
|National Hockey League|