1959–60 NHL season

The 1959–60 NHL season was the 43rd season of the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens were the Stanley Cup winners as they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs four games to none for their fifth straight Stanley Cup.

1959–60 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 7, 1959 – April 14, 1960
Number of games70
Number of teams6
Regular season
Season championMontreal Canadiens
Season MVPGordie Howe (Red Wings)
Top scorerBobby Hull (Black Hawks)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsMontreal Canadiens
  Runners-upToronto Maple Leafs

Regular season

This regular season, like the two preceding it and the two following it, belonged to the Montreal Canadiens, who were in the midst of five straight first overall finishes and at the tail end of five straight Stanley Cup victories. The Detroit Red Wings, who were dead last and missed the playoffs the previous season, squeaked into the playoffs by riding a Hart Memorial Trophy performance by their ageless star right-winger, Gordie Howe.

The season was marked by important changes in the NHL, as Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante, like Clint Benedict before him, began to wear a mask in hockey games. Plante, who had asthma-related problems throughout his career, first began wearing a mask in practice shortly after a sinus operation in 1957. On November 1, 1959, Plante's nose was broken by a shot from New York Rangers right-winger Andy Bathgate. After being stitched up, Plante insisted on wearing a mask for the remainder of the game. Montreal coach Toe Blake was bitterly opposed to the idea, but did not have a backup goaltender and relented after Plante said he would not return to the ice without a mask. Although many in the NHL disapproved of Plante's decision due to NHL tradition at the time, many followed suit after Plante went undefeated in ten games with the mask on.

Phil Watson suffered an ulcer and was quietly dismissed as Ranger coach and replaced by Alf Pike. Gump Worsley was demoted to the Springfield Indians of the AHL and Worsley screamed he was finished with hockey, but reported to Springfield anyway. Indians owner Eddie Shore, known for his criticism of his players, gave Worsley a surprise vote of confidence. Gump played well for the Indians.

There was trouble brewing for Rangers right-winger Andy Bathgate, who had ripped open Plante's nose on the night of the goalie mask's official NHL debut. In a January 1960 True Magazine article ghosted by Dave Anderson, the defending league MVP listed the names of players whom he considered guilty of the dangerous act of spearing. This was brought to the attention of NHL President Clarence Campbell, who fined Bathgate $500 and Ranger general manager Muzz Patrick $100 on the grounds the article was prejudicial to and against the welfare of the league.

After being demoted to Springfield, Gump Worsley was brought back up as Marcel Paille was even worse in goal for New York. Gump and the Rangers beat the Canadiens 8–3 in his first game back on January 3, but on January 21, Montreal bombed Worsley 11-2. Later against the Chicago Black Hawks, Worsley suffered an injury that finished him for the season; Hawks' winger Bobby Hull skated over his catching glove and severed two tendons in his fingers. Al Rollins was called up to replace him. Later, Olympic hero Jack McCartan played a few games for the Rangers, acquitting himself very well.

The Boston Bruins narrowly missed the playoffs despite a flurry of offense, sparked by the "Uke Line" of Johnny Bucyk, Vic Stasiuk, and Bronco Horvath. Horvath finished a close second to Chicago's Bobby Hull in the scoring race and was named to the Second All-Star Team. Slick centre Don McKenney led the NHL in assists while winning the Lady Byng Trophy and versatile Doug Mohns also contributed. 1959–60 saw two veteran Bruins, centre Fleming MacKell and goaltender Harry Lumley, play their last campaigns before retirement.

This season marked the first season of the Original Six era during which every active player had played for Original Six teams only. Ken Mosdell, the last player to play for another team, retired the previous season.

Final standings

National Hockey League[1]
1Montreal Canadiens70401812255178+7792
2Toronto Maple Leafs7035269199195+479
3Chicago Black Hawks70282913191180+1169
4Detroit Red Wings70262915186197−1167
5Boston Bruins7028348220241−2164
6New York Rangers70173815187247−6049

Stanley Cup playoffs

Montreal played the minimum number of games to win the Stanley Cup and in the process, became the last Cup winners in NHL history to go undefeated in the playoffs to date. After winning the Stanley Cup, Maurice Richard retired from the NHL as a champion.

Playoff bracket

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


(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (3) Chicago Black Hawks

Montreal won series 4–0
Toronto won series 4–2

Stanley Cup Finals

Montreal won series 4–0


Gordie Howe won the Hart Trophy to become the first five-time winner of the Hart. In voting, he received 118 votes of a possible 180, twice as many as runner-up Bobby Hull.[2] Howe was the last winner of the original Hart Trophy. The trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame and the NHL began presenting a new trophy, which was dubbed the Hart Memorial Trophy in its place.[3] Hull won the Art Ross Trophy for the scoring championship, his first. Doug Harvey won the Norris Trophy for the fifth time, and the fifth time in the seven times it had been awarded. The Canadiens had the lowest goals against average, for the fifth consecutive time, and Jacques Plante was awarded his fifth Vezina Trophy. The Black Hawks' Glenn Hall was named to the First All-Star team as goaltender.

1959–60 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Regular season champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer)
Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
Bill Hay, Chicago Black Hawks
Hart Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Don McKenney, Boston Bruins
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender of team with the best goals-against average)
Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens

All-Star teams

First team  Position  Second team
Glenn Hall, Chicago Black Hawks G Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens D Allan Stanley, Toronto Maple Leafs
Marcel Pronovost, Detroit Red Wings D Pierre Pilote, Chicago Black Hawks
Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens C Bronco Horvath, Boston Bruins
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings RW Bernie Geoffrion, Montreal Canadiens
Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks LW Dean Prentice, New York Rangers

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

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

Player Team GP G A Pts
Bobby HullChicago Black Hawks70394281
Bronco HorvathBoston Bruins68394180
Jean BeliveauMontreal Canadiens60344074
Andy BathgateNew York Rangers70264874
Henri RichardMontreal Canadiens70304373
Gordie HoweDetroit Red Wings70284573
Bernie GeoffrionMontreal Canadiens59304171
Don McKenneyBoston Bruins70204969
Vic StasiukBoston Bruins69293968
Dean PrenticeNew York Rangers70323466


Leading goaltenders

Note: GP = Games played; MIN = Minutes played; GA = Goals against; SO = Shut outs; AVG = Goals against average

Jacques PlanteMontreal Canadiens69414017532.54
Glenn HallChicago Black Hawks70420017962.56
Terry SawchukDetroit Red Wings58348015552.67
Johnny BowerToronto Maple Leafs66396017752.68
Don SimmonsBoston Bruins2816809123.25
Harry LumleyBoston Bruins42252014623.48
Gump WorsleyNew York Rangers39230113503.52



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1959–60 (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 1959–60 (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.
  • Dowbiggin, Bruce (2008), The Meaning Of Puck: How Hockey Explains Modern Canada, Toronto: Key Porter Books, ISBN 978-1-55470-041-7
  • 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.
  • Hollander, Zander; Bock, Hal, eds. (1970). The Complete Encyclopedia of Ice Hockey. Prentice-Hall Inc. ISBN 0-13-159905-4.
  • 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. "1959–1960 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League.
  2. "Fifth Hart Trophy for Gordie Howe". Montreal Gazette. May 7, 1960. p. 37.
  3. Hollander & Bock 1970, p. 311.
  4. Dinger 2011, p. 149.
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