1948–49 NHL season

The 1948–49 NHL season was the 32nd season of the National Hockey League. In a rematch of the previous season, Toronto defeated Detroit in the Stanley Cup final to win the championship.

1948–49 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 13, 1948 – April 16, 1949
Number of games60
Number of teams6
Regular season
Season championDetroit Red Wings
Season MVPSid Abel (Red Wings)
Top scorerRoy Conacher (Black Hawks)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsToronto Maple Leafs
  Runners-upDetroit Red Wings

League business

Rule changes

A new rule, often called the "Durnan Rule", was introduced for the start of the season stating that goalies cannot be the captain or an alternate captain and wear the "C" or "A". Specifically, NHL Rule 14-D (today's rule 6.1) read: No playing Coach or playing Manager or goalkeeper shall be permitted to act as Captain or Alternate Captain.[1][2]

This rule was introduced because Bill Durnan, Montreal Canadiens goalie and captain, would frequently leave his crease to dispute calls with the referees. Opposing teams claimed that this would give the Canadiens unscheduled timeouts during strategic points in games. It would be another sixty years before another goalie would be captain. From 2008 until 2010, the Vancouver Canucks had Roberto Luongo as their captain, the seventh goalie to serve as a captain in the NHL. The rule remained in place, however, and Luongo could not 'act' as captain during games.

Regular season

Don Gallinger of the Boston Bruins, hopeful he could win an appeal of his suspension in the gambling scandal, finally admitted to gambling and was expelled from the NHL for life in September.

On October 8, 1948, the New York Rangers were due to start their season against the Montreal Canadiens, when the team suffered misfortune. Buddy O'Connor, Frank Eddolls, Edgar Laprade, Bill Moe, and Tony Leswick were travelling in their car from Montreal to Saranac Lake, New York when their car was struck by a truck near Rouses Point. O'Connor suffered several broken ribs, Eddolls a severed tendon in his knee, Laprade suffered a broken nose, Moe had a cut in the head requiring several stitches and Leswick escaped with a few bruises.

On November 10, 1948, unseasonably warm temperatures caused a fog bank to occur inside the Boston Garden during a game between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Referee Bill Chadwick abandoned the game after only 9 minutes of the first period due to poor visibility. The game was replayed the following night, with Boston winning 4–1.[3]

A league record of ten major penalties was set November 25, 1948, when 11,000 fans at the Montreal Forum witnessed a donnybrook. It started when the Habs' Ken Mosdell elbowed Maple Leaf Gus Mortson. Mortson retaliated by knocking Elliot de Grey down with his stick. Montreal's Maurice Richard then sprang onto Mortson's back and they fought, and then all hands joined in. Mortson, Richard, Toronto's Howie Meeker and Mosdell were banished with majors. Play had scarcely begun when Ken Reardon (Montreal) and Joe Klukay (Toronto) began fencing and Bill Barilko went at Reardon, while Klukay got into it with Billy Reay, and Hal Laycoe fought Garth Boesch. In the game itself, Turk Broda picked up his first shutout of the year as the Leafs won, 2–0.

A sad note was the death of former Pittsburgh Pirates defenceman Tex White, who was found dead in his bed at his home in Port Colborne, Ontario on December 12. He was only 48 years old.

Both Detroit and Montreal lost key players to injury this year. Montreal lost Elmer Lach with a fractured jaw when he collided with Toronto defenceman Bob Goldham, and Emile "Butch" Bouchard injured a knee. Detroit lost Gordie Howe, who underwent knee surgery.

Bill Durnan got hot in the second half of the season and recorded four consecutive shutouts, going 309 minutes and 21 seconds without giving up a goal. In all, Durnan had 10 shutouts and won his fifth Vezina Trophy in six years.

Final standings

National Hockey League[4]
1Detroit Red Wings6034197195145+5075
2Boston Bruins6029238178163+1566
3Montreal Canadiens6028239152126+2665
4Toronto Maple Leafs60222513147161−1457
5Chicago Black Hawks6021318173211−3850
6New York Rangers60183111133172−3947


Playoff bracket

Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
1 Detroit 4
3 Montreal 3
1 Detroit 0
4 Toronto 4
2 Boston 1
4 Toronto 4


(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (3) Montreal Canadiens

Detroit won series 4–3

(2) Boston Bruins vs. (4) Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto won series 4–1

Stanley Cup Finals

Toronto won series 4–0


Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Pentti Lund, New York Rangers
Hart Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Sid Abel, Detroit Red Wings
Lady Byng Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Bill Quackenbush, Detroit Red Wings
O'Brien Cup:
(Stanley Cup runner-up)
Detroit Red Wings
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Top regular-season record)
Detroit Red Wings
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer)
Roy Conacher, Chicago Black Hawks
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender of team with lowest GAA)
Bill Durnan, Montreal Canadiens

All-Star teams

First team  Position  Second team
Bill Durnan, Montreal Canadiens G Chuck Rayner, New York Rangers
Bill Quackenbush, Detroit Red Wings D Glen Harmon, Montreal Canadiens
Jack Stewart, Detroit Red Wings D Ken Reardon, Montreal Canadiens
Sid Abel, Detroit Red Wings C Doug Bentley, Chicago Black Hawks
Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens RW Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
Roy Conacher, Chicago Black Hawks LW Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Roy ConacherChicago Black Hawks602642688
Doug BentleyChicago Black Hawks5823436638
Sid AbelDetroit Red Wings6028265449
Ted LindsayDetroit Red Wings5026285497
Jim ConacherDetroit Red Wings / Chicago Black Hawks5926234943
Paul RontyBoston Bruins6020294911
Harry WatsonToronto Maple Leafs602619450
Billy ReayMontreal Canadiens6022234533
Gus BodnarChicago Black Hawks5919264514
Johnny PeirsonBoston Bruins5922214345

Source: NHL[5]

Leading goaltenders

Note: GP = Games played; Mins – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts

Player Team GP Mins GA GAA W L T SO
Bill DurnanMontreal Canadiens6036001262.102823910
Harry LumleyDetroit Red Wings6036001452.42341976
Turk BrodaToronto Maple Leafs6036001612.682225135
Frank BrimsekBoston Bruins5432401472.72262081
Chuck RaynerNew York Rangers5834801682.901631117
Jim HenryChicago Black Hawks6036002113.52213180



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1948–49 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last games

The following is a list of players of note who played their last game in the NHL in 1948–49 (listed with their last team):

See also


  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (1994). Years of glory, 1942–1967: the National Hockey League's official book of the six-team era. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-2817-2.
  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Hockey. Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-85-X.
  • Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Toronto, ON: Dan Diamond & Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-22-5.
  • Dryden, Steve, ed. (2000). Century of hockey. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. ISBN 0-7710-4179-9.
  • Duplacey, James (1996). Diamond, Dan (ed.). The annotated rules of hockey. Lyons & Burford. ISBN 1-55821-466-6.
  • Fischler, Stan; Fischler, Shirley; Hughes, Morgan; Romain, Joseph; Duplacey, James (2003). The Hockey Chronicle: Year-by-Year History of the National Hockey League. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International Inc. ISBN 0-7853-9624-1.
  • McFarlane, Brian (1973). The Story of the National Hockey League. New York, NY: Pagurian Press. ISBN 0-684-13424-1.
  1. "Captain Puckstopper". Greatest Hockey Legends.com. 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  2. Duplacey 1996, p. 25.
  3. Weekes, Don (2003). The Best and Worst of Hockey's Firsts: The Unofficial Guide. Canada: Greystone Books. pp. 240. ISBN 9781550548600.
  4. "1948–1949 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League.
  5. Dinger 2011, p. 148.
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