1950–51 NHL season

The 1950–51 NHL season was the 34th season of the National Hockey League. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens four games to one for the Stanley Cup to win their fifth Cup in seven years.

1950–51 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 11, 1950 – April 21, 1951
Number of games70
Number of teams6
Regular season
Season championDetroit Red Wings
Season MVPMilt Schmidt (Bruins)
Top scorerGordie Howe (Red Wings)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsToronto Maple Leafs
  Runners-upMontreal Canadiens

League business

The league implemented a rule requiring all teams to provide an emergency goaltender for every game, for use by either team in case of illness or injury.[1]

Regular season

The biggest trade in NHL history at the time took place in July 1950 with Sugar Jim Henry, Gaye Stewart, Bob Goldham and Metro Prystai of Chicago going to Detroit for Harry Lumley, Black Jack Stewart, Al Dewsbury, Don Morrison and Pete Babando, an exchange of nine players altogether.

Joe Primeau was named coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs with Hap Day kicked upstairs to assistant general manager. Toronto came flying out of the gate, undefeated in 11 games. Al Rollins had a great year, finishing with a 1.75 goals against average in 40 games. The Leafs had hoped to have Rollins share the Vezina Trophy with Turk Broda, but the league decided Rollins alone would be the recipient. The Leafs' .679 win percentage remains their all time best for a season, despite the fact that they were second in the league standings behind Detroit.

With the New York Rangers slumping this season, they hired a hypnotist, Dr. David Tracy, to help relax the team. The treatment remained in doubt and the Rangers lost to Boston November 12. Asked why the treatment didn't work, Dr. Tracy said that he should have worked with the goaltender (Chuck Rayner) as he wasn't relaxed enough.

Montreal fans were excited when it was reported that two junior stars, Jean Beliveau and Bernie Geoffrion, would be given a trial in a December 16 game with the Rangers. The Canadiens played a 1–1 tie before 14,158 fans. Geoffrion scored the Canadiens goal in his debut.

Chicago was in third place at mid-season when bad luck struck. Their captain, Black Jack Stewart, ruptured a disc in his back and had to undergo surgery. He was finished for the season and his career was in jeopardy. Aggravating things were injuries to Gus Bodnar and Bill Gadsby. The Black Hawks won only two games in the second half and finished last.

In March, Rocket Richard ran into trouble in a game with Detroit. Richard was tripped and rose with a cut between the eyes. No penalty was called and Richard commenced an argument with referee Hugh McLean. He continued his argument too long and was given a misconduct penalty. Richard then skated to the penalty box and found Leo Reise of Detroit there to welcome him with derisive remarks which infuriated Richard, who then punched Reise, and when linesman Jim Primeau rushed to intervene, Richard took a poke at him and Richard was given a game misconduct. The Canadiens took a train to New York for a game against the Rangers, and the next morning, Richard encountered referee McLean and linesman Primeau in the lobby of the Picadilly Hotel. No punches were thrown, but Richard grabbed McLean by the tie and then Primeau intervened. Considerable profanity filled the air, but cooler heads separated the trio before fists could fly. NHL President Clarence Campbell took a dim view of the matter and fined the Rocket $500 for conduct prejudicial to the welfare of hockey.

The Detroit Red Wings got hot in the second half, overtaking Toronto and finished in first place again, becoming the first team with more than 100 points. Gordie Howe led the NHL in goals, assists, and points while goaltender Terry Sawchuk won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's best rookie. Sawchuk set a record for most wins by a goalie, as he was in net for all of Detroit's 44 victories.

Final standings

National Hockey League[2]
1Detroit Red Wings70441313236139+97101
2Toronto Maple Leafs70411613212138+7495
3Montreal Canadiens70253015173184−1165
4Boston Bruins70223018178197−1962
5New York Rangers70202921169201−3261
6Chicago Black Hawks70134710171280−10936


The second seed Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated the fourth seed Boston Bruins in five games, and the third seed Montreal Canadiens upset the first overall Detroit Red Wings in six, setting up a Leafs – Canadiens Stanley Cup Finals, won by the Leafs 4–1.

Playoff bracket

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


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

Montreal won series 4–2

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

Toronto won series 4–1

Stanley Cup Finals

Toronto won series 4–1


Award winners
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Regular season champion)
Detroit Red Wings
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer)
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings
Hart Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender of team with best goals-against record)
Al Rollins, Toronto Maple Leafs
All-Star teams
First team  Position  Second team
Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings G Chuck Rayner, New York Rangers
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings D Jimmy Thomson, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bill Quackenbush, Boston Bruins D Leo Reise, Detroit Red Wings
Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins C Ted Kennedy, Toronto Maple Leafs

Sid Abel, Detroit Red Wings (tied)

Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings RW Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens
Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings LW Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points

Player Team GP G A Pts
Gordie HoweDetroit Red Wings70434386
Maurice RichardMontreal Canadiens65422466
Max BentleyToronto Maple Leafs67214162
Sid AbelDetroit Red Wings69233861
Milt SchmidtBoston Bruins62223961
Ted KennedyToronto Maple Leafs63184361
Ted LindsayDetroit Red Wings67243559
Tod SloanToronto Maple Leafs70312556
Red KellyDetroit Red Wings70173754
Sid SmithToronto Maple Leafs70302151

Source: NHL[3]

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
Al RollinsToronto Maple Leafs402373701.7727585
Terry SawchukDetroit Red Wings7042001391.9944131311
Turk BrodaToronto Maple Leafs311827682.23141156
Gerry McNeilMontreal Canadiens7042001842.632530156
Jack GelineauBoston Bruins7042001972.812230184
Chuck RaynerNew York Rangers663940872.851928192
Emile FrancisNew York Rangers5260143.231120
Harry LumleyChicago Black Hawks6437852463.901241103
Marcel PelletierChicago Black Hawks6355294.901500



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1950–51 (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 1950–51 (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.
  • 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.
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