1951–52 NHL season

The 1951–52 NHL season was the 35th season of the National Hockey League. The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup by sweeping the Montreal Canadiens four games to none.

1951–52 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 11, 1951 – April 15, 1952
Number of games70
Number of teams6
Regular season
Season championDetroit Red Wings
Season MVPGordie Howe (Red Wings)
Top scorerGordie Howe (Red Wings)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsDetroit Red Wings
  Runners-upMontreal Canadiens

League business

A long standing feud between Boston president Weston Adams and general manager Art Ross ended on October 12, 1951, when Adams sold his stock in Boston Garden to Walter Brown.

The Chicago Black Hawks, who had made the mammoth nine player deal the previous season, now decided to make the largest cash deal for players to this time by paying $75,000 for Jim McFadden, George Gee, Jimmy Peters, Clare Martin, Clare Raglan and Max McNab.

Rule changes

The league mandated that road teams would now wear a basic white uniform, while home teams will wear coloured uniforms.[1]

The goal crease is enlarged from 3 × 7 feet to 4 × 8 feet. The faceoff circles are expanded from a 10-foot radius to a 15-foot radius.[1]

Regular season

Conn Smythe offered $10,000 for anyone who found Bill Barilko, missing since August 26. Barilko and Dr. Henry Hudson had left Rupert House on James Bay in the doctor's light plane for Timmins, Ontario, after a weekend fishing trip and had not been found.

For the fourth straight season, the Detroit Red Wings finished first overall in the National Hockey League.


On November 25 in Chicago, Chicago goalie Harry Lumley hurt a knee. At age 46, trainer Moe Roberts, who played his first game in the NHL for Boston in 1925–26, played the third period in goal for Chicago and did not yield a goal.[2] Roberts would stand as the oldest person to ever play an NHL game until Gordie Howe returned to the NHL at age 51 in 1979.[3]

Chicago was not drawing well and so they decided to experiment with afternoon games. It worked, as the largest crowd of the season, 13,600 fans, showed up for a January 20 game in which Chicago lost to Toronto 3–1.

Elmer Lach night was held March 8 at the Forum in Montreal as the Canadiens tied Chicago 4–4. 14,452 fans were on hand to see Lach presented with a car, rowboat, TV set, deep-freeze chest, bedroom and dining room suites, a refrigerator and many other articles.

On the last night of the season, March 23, 1952, with nothing at stake at Madison Square Garden, 3,254 fans saw Chicago's Bill Mosienko score the fastest hat trick in NHL history, 3 goals in 21 seconds. Lorne Anderson was the goaltender who gave up the goals to Chicago. Gus Bodnar also set a record with the fastest three assists in NHL history as he assisted on all three goals Mosienko scored. Chicago beat the New York Rangers 7–6.[2]

Final standings

National Hockey League[4]
1Detroit Red Wings70441412215133+82100
2Montreal Canadiens70342610195164+3178
3Toronto Maple Leafs70292516168157+1174
4Boston Bruins70252916162176−1466
5New York Rangers70233413192219−2759
6Chicago Black Hawks7017449158241−8343


Detroit finished 8–0, sweeping the defending Stanley Cup champions Toronto (the first time in NHL history the cup champs were swept in the first round) and Montreal, the first time a team had gone undefeated in the playoffs since the 1934–35 Montreal Maroons. The Wings scored 24 goals in the playoffs, compared to a combined five goals for their opponents. Detroit goaltender Terry Sawchuk did not give up a goal on home ice during the playoffs.[2]

Playoff bracket

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


(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (3) Toronto Maple Leafs

Detroit won series 4–0

(2) Montreal Canadiens vs. (4) Boston Bruins

Montreal won series 4–3

Stanley Cup Finals

Detroit won series 4–0


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)
Bernie Geoffrion, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender of team with best goals-against average)
Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings
All-Star teams
First team  Position  Second team
Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings G Jim Henry, Boston Bruins
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings D Hy Buller, New York Rangers
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens D Jimmy Thomson, Toronto Maple Leafs
Elmer Lach, Montreal Canadiens C Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins
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, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Player Team GP G A PTS PIM
Gordie HoweDetroit Red Wings7047398678
Ted LindsayDetroit Red Wings70303969123
Elmer LachMontreal Canadiens7015506536
Don RaleighNew York Rangers7019426114
Sid SmithToronto Maple Leafs702730576
Bernie GeoffrionMontreal Canadiens6730245466
Bill MosienkoChicago Black Hawks7031225310
Sid AbelDetroit Red Wings6217365332
Ted KennedyToronto Maple Leafs7019335233
Milt SchmidtBoston Bruins6921295057

Source: NHL[5]

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
Terry SawchukDetroit Red Wings7042001331.9044141212
Al RollinsToronto Maple Leafs7041701542.222924165
Gerry McNeilMontreal Canadiens7042001642.343426105
Jim HenryBoston Bruins7042001762.512529167
Chuck RaynerNew York Rangers5331801593.001825102
Emile FrancisNew York Rangers14840423.004730

Source: NHL[6]



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1951–52 (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 1951–52 (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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