1955–56 NHL season

The 1955–56 NHL season was the 39th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Montreal Canadiens were the Stanley Cup champions as they beat the Detroit Red Wings four games to one in the best-of-seven final series.

1955–56 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 6, 1955 – April 10, 1956
Number of games70
Number of teams6
Regular season
Season championMontreal Canadiens
Season MVPJean Beliveau (Canadiens)
Top scorerJean Beliveau (Canadiens)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsMontreal Canadiens
  Runners-upDetroit Red Wings

League business

At a governors' meeting in December, a discussion took place concerning the uniforms worn by officials. It was contended that the present orange and black uniforms were confusing to players and fans, particularly when red uniforms are worn by either of the participating teams. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the existing uniforms showed up black on television. It was unanimously agreed that officials' uniforms should be changed to black and white vertical stripes. The black and white uniforms were first worn on December 29, 1955.

With Montreal frequently racking up two or three goals on any one power play, NHL President Clarence Campbell said he'd like the penalty rule revised to a penalized player returning to the ice when a power play goal is scored on a minor penalty. The Canadiens were the lone club to vote against the new legislation.

Regular season

The streak of seven straight seasons at the top of the NHL held by the Detroit Red Wings' dynasty came to an end as the Montreal Canadiens were tops. The Canadiens set a new record for wins in a season with 45. The Canadiens had a new coach, their one-time great former All-Star left-winger, Hector "Toe" Blake.

Dick Irvin, formerly the coach in Montreal, whom Habs' GM Frank Selke Sr. found a little truculent, took over as coach in Chicago, but could not get them out of the cellar, though they did improve. It was sort of a homecoming for Irvin as he started his coaching career with Chicago in 1930.


When the Hawks went to the Montreal Forum on October 22, Irvin was presented with a set of silver flatware by William Northey, representing the Canadian Arena Company. In the game itself, rookie Henri Richard scored two goals as Montreal shut out Chicago 6–0.

On November 5, Jean Beliveau scored three goals in 44 seconds as Montreal beat Boston 4–3. The record for fastest hat trick still was held by Bill Mosienko with three goals in 21 seconds.

On December 29, officials debut the new "zebra" outfits in a game between the Canadiens and Maple Leafs.[1]

On January 11, a crowd of 15,570 delighted fans at Madison Square Garden watched the Rangers trounce the Canadiens 6–1. Pete Conacher was a star for the Rangers with two goals. Lou Fontinato and Maurice Richard had a gala fight and Fontinato knocked out Richard with a punch that required several stitches above Richard's eye.

Montreal routed the Rangers 9–4 on February 18 as Beliveau had the hat trick and Richard two. The Rocket was incensed when referee Louis Maschio gave his brother a misconduct penalty and his teammates had to cool him off.

Beliveau set a record for goals by a center when he scored his 45th goal on March 15. Maurice Richard was hurt in this game when he fell over Hawk defenceman Pierre Pilote's skate and went headlong into the goal. He required stitches and was taken to hospital for X-rays. The Rocket was back in the lineup on St. Patrick's Day as the Canadiens trounced the Rangers 7–2 and Richard had the hat trick.

Rookie Glenn Hall had a fabulous year with 12 shutouts and a 2.11 goals against average for the ever-powerful Detroit Red Wings. He received the Calder Memorial Trophy over Henri "Pocket Rocket" Richard.

Final standings

National Hockey League[2]
1Montreal Canadiens70451510222131+91100
2Detroit Red Wings70302416183148+3576
3New York Rangers70322810204203+174
4Toronto Maple Leafs70243313153181−2861
5Boston Bruins70233413147185−3859
6Chicago Black Hawks70193912155216−6150


Playoff bracket

Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
1 Montreal 4
3 New York 1
1 Montreal 4
2 Detroit 1
2 Detroit 4
4 Toronto 1


(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (3) New York Rangers

Montreal won series 4–1

(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (4) Toronto Maple Leafs

Detroit won series 4–1

Stanley Cup Finals

Montreal won series 4–1


Award winners
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Regular season champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer)
Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
Glenn Hall, Detroit Red Wings
Hart Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Earl Reibel, Detroit Red Wings
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender of team with the best goals-against average)
Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens

All-Star teams

First team  Position  Second team
Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens G Glenn Hall, Detroit Red Wings
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens D Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings
Bill Gadsby, New York Rangers D Tom Johnson, Montreal Canadiens
Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens C Tod Sloan, Toronto Maple Leafs
Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens RW Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
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
Jean BeliveauMontreal Canadiens70474188143
Gordie HoweDetroit Red Wings70384179100
Maurice RichardMontreal Canadiens7038337189
Bert OlmsteadMontreal Canadiens7014567094
Tod SloanToronto Maple Leafs70372966100
Andy BathgateNew York Rangers7019476659
Bernie GeoffrionMontreal Canadiens5929336266
Earl ReibelDetroit Red Wings6817395610
Alex DelvecchioDetroit Red Wings7025265124
Dave CreightonNew York Rangers7020315143

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
Jacques PlanteMontreal Canadiens6438401191.864212107
Glenn HallDetroit Red Wings7042001472.1030241612
Terry SawchukBoston Bruins6840801772.602233139
Harry LumleyToronto Maple Leafs5935271592.702128103
Lorne WorsleyNew York Rangers7042001992.843228104
Al RollinsChicago Black Hawks5834801722.971730113



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1955–56 (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 1955–56 (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.
  1. Finger, Scott. "This Day In Hockey History - December 29". hookedonhockeymagazine.com. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  2. "1955–1956 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League.
  3. Dinger 2011, p. 149.
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