1952–53 NHL season

The 1952–53 NHL season was the 36th season of the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens were the Stanley Cup winners as they beat the Boston Bruins four games to one in the final series.

1952–53 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 9, 1952 – April 16, 1953
Number of games70
Number of teams6
Regular season
Season championDetroit Red Wings
Season MVPGordie Howe (Red Wings)
Top scorerGordie Howe (Red Wings)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsMontreal Canadiens
  Runners-upBoston Bruins

League business

The NHL almost had a seventh franchise, as the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League applied for a franchise. They were accepted with the proviso that they deposit $425,000 to show good faith, and prove they had sufficient working capital to consort with the other NHL teams. They could not come up with the working capital and transfer of applicants stock to Cleveland residents. As a result, the Barons were told to apply at a later date.

A big deal was made between Toronto and Chicago as the Maple Leafs shipped Al Rollins, Gus Mortson, and Cal Gardner for goaltender Harry Lumley.

Sid Abel was signed by Chicago to be player-coach.

What was rumoured became fact in September when Arthur M. Wirtz and James D. Norris became the new owners of the near bankrupt Chicago Black Hawks.

James E. Norris, owner of the Detroit Red Wings since 1932 and father of James D. Norris, Chicago owner, died of a heart attack on December 4, 1952, and his daughter Marguerite became the owner. She became the first female owner of an NHL franchise since Ida Querrie owned the Toronto St. Patricks in 1923 when her husband Charlie transferred his stock in the team to her to avoid paying Eddie Livingstone any money in Livingstone's lawsuit against him.

NHL on-ice officials changed to orange-coloured uniforms in March 1953. The officials had worn cream-coloured uniforms which were not distinguishable from some team's home-ice uniforms.

Regular season

For the fifth straight season, the Detroit Red Wings lead the league in points. Gordie Howe won the Hart Trophy over Al Rollins, but on the strength of Rollins' goaltending, Chicago made the playoffs for the first time since 1946.

The first television broadcast in Canada of an NHL game occurred on October 11 of this year. It was a French language broadcast of a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings with the Canadiens winning 2–1.[1] The French language telecast was produced by 24-year-old Gerald Renaud. On November 1, the first English language broadcast aired, with Foster Hewitt calling the action, starting in the second period because Conn Smythe was concerned that it would cut into the crowds at the arena.[2] Smythe, the Leafs' managing director, sold the Leafs' television rights for a paltry $100 per game.


Gump Worsley made his NHL debut October 9, 1952, in goal for the New York Rangers at the Detroit Olympia and lost 5–3, as Ted Lindsay scored in a tip-in on the power play for Worsley's first goal against him. The Production line scored 3 goals that night as Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe also had goals. Marty Pavelich scored what proved to be the winning goal.

On November 8, 14,562 fans were in attendance at the Montreal Forum when the Canadiens beat Chicago 6–4. Elmer Lach scored his 200th career goal. Fifty seconds later, after Emile "Butch" Bouchard fed him the puck, Rocket Richard rifled a puck past Al Rollins for his 325th goal, breaking Nels Stewart's record for career goals.[2] It was ten years to the day since Richard had scored his first NHL goal.[2] "Old Poison" sent the following telegram: "Congratulations on breaking record. Hope you will hold it for many seasons. Best of luck to you and rest of team."

When Terry Sawchuk was injured in practice, the Red Wings brought up Glenn Hall and he made his NHL debut on December 27 and played well in a 2–2 tie with Montreal. Hall then picked up his first career shutout January 7, blanking Boston 4–0.

Red Wings General Manager Jack Adams got into some trouble on January 18 when, after a 3–2 loss to Montreal, he entered the officials room and argued with referee Red Storey. Dick Irvin, coach of Montreal, was very upset over this and NHL president Clarence Campbell agreed, fining Adams $500.

Gump Worsley got his first career shutout January 11 when the New York Rangers defeated the Canadiens 7–0 in Montreal.

Butch Bouchard Night was held on February 28 and he was presented with a car and a TV set. Detroit spoiled the night with a 4–3 victory.

There was consternation in Toronto when Max Bentley suddenly vanished and was reported back at his home in Delisle, Saskatchewan. Conn Smythe convinced him to return and he did, playing the remaining games of the schedule.

Ted Lindsay scored 4 goals on March 2 as Detroit pummeled Boston by a score of 10–2.

Gordie Howe scored 49 goals to nearly tie Rocket Richard's record. Howe was held off the scoresheet in the final game of the season by Richard's Canadiens. Howe set a new points record for the season with 95 points and won the Art Ross and Hart trophies.[2]

Final standings

National Hockey League[3]
1Detroit Red Wings70361618222133+8990
2Montreal Canadiens70282319155148+775
3Boston Bruins70282913152172−2069
4Chicago Black Hawks70272815169175−669
5Toronto Maple Leafs70273013156167−1167
6New York Rangers70173716152211−5950


In a major upset, first-place Detroit was defeated in the semifinal by the Boston Bruins in six games. In the other semifinal, the fourth-place Chicago Black Hawks, making their first playoff appearance in seven years, took a 3–2 series lead after losing the first two games to the second-place Montreal Canadiens, but could not finish the job, losing in seven games.

Playoff bracket

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


(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (3) Boston Bruins

Boston won series 4–2

(2) Montreal Canadiens vs. (4) Chicago Black Hawks

Montreal won series 4–3

Stanley Cup Finals

In the Finals, the Bruins could not continue their winning ways, and lost to Montreal in five games.

After the Finals, the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League applied to play a Stanley Cup challenge. The NHL governors turned down the challenge, stating that the Cleveland club operated in a league of lower standing.[4][2]

Montreal won series 4–1


Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Best regular-season record)
Detroit Red Wings
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer)
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Lorne "Gump" Worsley, New York Rangers
Hart Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender of team with best goals-against record)
Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings

All-Star teams

First team  Position  Second team
Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings G Gerry McNeil, Montreal Canadiens
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings D Bill Quackenbush, Boston Bruins
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens D Bill Gadsby, Chicago Black Hawks
Fleming MacKell, Boston Bruins C Alex Delvecchio, Detroit Red Wings
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings RW Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens
Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings LW Bert Olmstead, Montreal Canadiens

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 Wings7049469557
Ted LindsayDetroit Red Wings70323971111
Maurice RichardMontreal Canadiens70283361112
Wally HergesheimerNew York Rangers7030295910
Alex DelvecchioDetroit Red Wings7016435928
Paul RontyNew York Rangers7016385420
Metro PrystaiDetroit Red Wings7016345012
Red KellyDetroit Red Wings701927468
Bert OlmsteadMontreal Canadiens6917284583
Fleming MackellBoston Bruins6527174463


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 Wings6337801201.903215169
Gerry McNeilMontreal Canadiens6639601402.1225231810
Harry LumleyToronto Maple Leafs7042001672.3927301310
Jim HenryBoston Bruins7042001422.462829137
Al RollinsChicago Black Hawks7042001752.502728156
Chuck RaynerNew York Rangers201200582.904881
Lorne WorsleyNew York Rangers5030001533.06132982



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1952–53 (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 1952–53 (listed with their last team):

See also


  • Coleman, Charles L. (1976), Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol III, Sherbrooke, QC: Progressive Publications
  • 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. Kingston, NY: 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 (2008), Hockey's Book of Firsts, North Dighton, MA: JG Press, ISBN 978-1-57215-037-9
  • 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 (1969), 50 Years Of Hockey, Winnipeg, MAN: Greywood Publishing, ASIN B000GW45S0
  • McFarlane, Brian (1973). The Story of the National Hockey League. New York, NY: Pagurian Press. ISBN 0-684-13424-1.* Mouton, Claude (1987). Montreal Canadiens. Key Porter Books. ISBN 1-55013-051-X.
  1. CBC Archives. (May 29, 2009). " Hockey Night in Canada." CBC. Retrieved November 10, 2009.
  2. Dryden 2000, p. 55.
  3. "1952–1953 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League.
  4. Mouton(1987), p. 117
  5. Dinger 2011, p. 149.
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