1953–54 NHL season

The 1953–54 NHL season was the 37th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the final to win the team's sixth championship.

1953–54 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 8, 1953 – April 16, 1954
Number of games70
Number of teams6
Regular season
Season championDetroit Red Wings
Season MVPAl Rollins (Black Hawks)
Top scorerGordie Howe (Red Wings)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsDetroit Red Wings
  Runners-upMontreal Canadiens

Regular season

The New York Rangers decided to drop Gump Worsley and went with Johnny Bower in goal this season. Bower did well, but not well enough to get the Rangers into the playoffs. However, the Rangers managed to come up with a fine rookie in Camille Henry who won the Calder Memorial Trophy.

On December 9, the Montreal Canadiens played the Toronto Maple Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens and the teams set a record of most penalties in a game. The trouble started when Montreal's Eddie Mazur got into a fight with Toronto's George Armstrong in the first period. Both received game misconduct penalties. Early in the second period, Bud MacPherson broke his stick on the ribs of Toronto's Ron Stewart. He chose not to retaliate until a more opportune time. It came at 18:12 of the third period when Stewart and MacPherson collided again. This time they pushed and shoved and the gloves came off and they began to pummel each other. Tom Johnson came to MacPherson's aid by putting a headlock on Stewart and Stewart threw a punch that landed on Johnson's jaw. Stewart pursued MacPherson again, now that he was in combat with Eric Nesterenko of Toronto and soon the benches emptied and everyone was fighting except Maurice Richard and Tim Horton who merely grabbed each other's sweaters. Referee Frank Udvari handed out 36 penalties, including 15 misconducts for a record 204 minutes in penalties. With almost 2 minutes left in the game, only 8 players from each team excluding the goaltenders Gerry McNeil and Harry Lumley, who did battle in the brawl, were permitted to finish the game. Almost forgotten was that Toronto won the game 3–0.

The Rangers gained some publicity by using a so-called elixir prepared by restaurateur Gene Leone, but no conclusive results were reported.

There were persistent rumours that the Chicago Black Hawks would fold due to the poor performance of the team and fans staying away in droves. NHL president Clarence Campbell discussed the problems with Arthur M. Wirtz and it was announced that the rumours were without foundation.

President Campbell was busy this year imposing fines and suspensions. As a result of pushing referee Frank Udvari into the boards during a November 12 game, Bernie Geoffrion was fined $250. Later, in a December 20 game, he and Ron Murphy engaged in stick swinging which left Murphy with a broken jaw. Both players were suspended.

There was trouble brewing for Maurice Richard when he ghosted an article in the Samedi Dimanche newspaper, calling NHL president Clarence Campbell a dictator and took exception to Campbell's suspension of Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion for the stick swinging incident. Richard was required to post a $1000 bond and refrain from any more articles.[1]

The Detroit Red Wings were first overall in the National Hockey League for the sixth straight season.

Final standings

National Hockey League[2]
GP W L T GF GA DIFF Pts
1Detroit Red Wings70371914191132+5988
2Montreal Canadiens70352411195141+5481
3Toronto Maple Leafs70322414152131+2178
4Boston Bruins70322810177181−474
5New York Rangers70293110161182−2168
6Chicago Black Hawks7012517133242−10931

Playoffs

After losing four straight games to the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins general manager Art Ross, their manager from the day the Bruins came into the NHL, announced his retirement. He had been grooming Lynn Patrick to succeed him and Patrick took over as general manager.

Playoff bracket

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

Semifinals

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

Detroit won series 4–1

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

Montreal won series 4–0

Stanley Cup Finals

Detroit won series 4–3

Awards

The James Norris Memorial Trophy made its debut this season and its first winner was Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings. The Norris Trophy goes to the top defenceman each year and was named in honour of James E. Norris,[1] owner of the Detroit Red Wings franchise from 1932 until his death in 1952.

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)
Camille Henry, New York Rangers
Hart Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Al Rollins, Chicago Black Hawks
James Norris Memorial Trophy: