1963–64 NHL season

The 1963–64 NHL season was the 47th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs won their third consecutive Stanley Cup by defeating the Detroit Red Wings four games to three in the final series.

1963–64 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 8, 1963 – April 25, 1964
Number of games70
Number of teams6
Top draft pickGarry Monahan
Picked byMontreal Canadiens
Regular season
Season championMontreal Canadiens
Season MVPJean Beliveau (Canadiens)
Top scorerStan Mikita (Black Hawks)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsToronto Maple Leafs
  Runners-upDetroit Red Wings


The biggest trade of the offseason took place in June, 1963, with the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens swapping starting goaltenders. Ranger Gump Worsley went to Montreal, along with Dave Balon, Leon Rochefort and minor-leaguer Len Ronson, for six-time Vezina Trophy winner Jacques Plante – whose relationship with Canadiens' coach Toe Blake had seriously soured – along with Don Marshall and Phil Goyette.[1] Among other noteworthy transactions was the Boston Bruins drafting former Norris Trophy winner Tom Johnson from Montreal.[2] Howie Young of the Red Wings, who'd likewise worn out his welcome in Detroit, was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks for goaltender Roger Crozier, who would make an immediate impact in Detroit.[3] Billy Reay, the former coach of the Maple Leafs who had been coaching the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League,[4] was named coach of the Black Hawks, a position he would hold for a record thirteen seasons.[5]

At the league meeting on June 5, the governors noted the death of William Northey, who had died in April at age 92, and established a memorial on behalf of Montreal Children's Hospital in Northey's name.[6] It was announced at the league's October 4 meeting that Ron Andrews would replace Ken McKenzie, whose work as publisher and editor of The Hockey News was taking priority, as the NHL's director of publicity.[7] Furthermore, the waiver rules were liberalized, so that a player not on the 20-man protected list submitted in June could be dispatched to the minors without clearing waivers.[8]

The 17th National Hockey League All-Star Game was held on October 5 in Toronto and resulted in a 3–3 tie between the Stanley Cup champion Maple Leafs and the NHL All-Stars. Frank Mahovlich, who scored on two of Toronto's goals and assisted on the third, was named Most Valuable Player. Stan Mikita of the Black Hawks, the First Team All-Star center, at the time unsigned, was not permitted to play. Unusually, six All-Stars were named from the Boston BruinsJohn Bucyk, Leo Boivin, Murray Oliver, Dean Prentice, Doug Mohns and Tom Johnson – the most of any other team, although the Bruins had finished the 1963 season in last place.[9]

Regular season

Plante made his debut as a Ranger on October 9 against Chicago, losing 3–1 and being cut by an elbow from Black Hawk Johnny McKenzie. He fared no better four nights later in the home opener in Montreal against the Canadiens, losing 6–2 in the Forum while the fans both applauded and jeered their former goaltender.[10]

While Mikita signed his contract in time for the start of the season, star defenseman Carl Brewer of the Maple Leafs was a holdout and claimed he was going to retire from hockey to attend the University of Toronto; contract terms were agreed upon by the end of October.[11]

Montreal defeated the Red Wings 6–4 in Detroit, but the highlight of the game was Gordie Howe scoring his 544th goal to tie Maurice Richard's all-time career goal scoring mark and he drew a five-minute ovation from the capacity crowd.[12]

Toronto defeated Montreal 6–3 at Maple Leaf Gardens on October 30 in a penalty-filled game; the most prominent fight featured Canadien Terry Harper and Maple Leaf Bob Pulford who drew fighting majors. There were two lasting consequences; Canadien goaltender Gump Worsley badly pulled his hamstring in the match and was eventually replaced by Charlie Hodge for the remainder of the season. Furthermore, on November 8, Maple Leaf Gardens became the first arena in the NHL to have separate penalty boxes installed.[13]

The first penalty shot of the season was taken on November 3, with the Canadiens defeating the Rangers 5–3 in Madison Square Garden. Don Marshall, having been tripped by Jean Beliveau of Montreal, took the shot, but Canadien goaltender Charlie Hodge made the save. Nonetheless, the Rangers' management was not happy with the officiating of referee Vern Buffey, and called for the removal of referee-in-chief Carl Voss, a demand rejected by league president Clarence Campbell.[14]

Detroit defeated the Canadiens 3–0 on November 10. Famously, two longtime career records were set in this match. Gordie Howe scored a shorthanded goal on Charlie Hodge for his 545th career goal, breaking Maurice Richard's record. Further, Detroit netminder Terry Sawchuk recorded his 94th career NHL shutout, tying him with George Hainsworth as the all-time NHL shutout leader.[15] Howe would hold the all-time career goalscoring record for thirty seasons until broken by Wayne Gretzky in 1994,[16] while Sawchuk would hold the all-time shutout record for forty-five seasons, when it was broken in 2009 by Martin Brodeur.

By late November it was clear to Ranger management that Doug Harvey had lost his form entirely and was given his release.[17] He finished out the season in the AHL with the Quebec Aces.

Another career milestone fell on December 4, when Andy Hebenton of the Bruins broke the all-time career iron man streak, playing in his 581st consecutive game, to surpass Johnny Wilson's mark.[18] He would extend the streak to 630 games, his last in the NHL, while continuing his career in the minors, where he would play ten more straight seasons without missing a match.

An unusual record fell on December 12, in a Montreal–New York match won 6–4 by the Canadiens. Dave Balon and Gilles Tremblay of Montreal and Camille Henry of the Rangers scored goals within a frame of eighteen seconds, setting a mark for the fastest three goals by two teams.[19]

In a game on December 22 when Montreal exploded for five goals in nine minutes of the second period in a 6–1 win against Detroit, Canadien Jean Beliveau scored a goal to make him the highest scoring center in league history.[20]

Rookie Detroit goaltender Roger Crozier, substituting for injured Terry Sawchuk, recorded his second shutout against Boston on January 7. Only 7,000 fans attended in Boston Garden to see the last place Bruins play, chanting "We shall overcome" to register their opinion on their team's performance.[21]

On January 18, Terry Sawchuk broke George Hainsworth's NHL career shutout record with his 95th in a 2–0 win over Montreal. That same night, cellar dwelling Boston staggered the Maple Leafs 11–0 in Toronto, Andy Hebenton and Dean Prentice each scoring hat tricks.[22]

On February 1, Montreal forward Bobby Rousseau scored five goals against Detroit in a 9–3 whipping of the Red Wings, one behind the league record for a single game and the first time five goals had been scored by a player in a single match in nearly a decade.[23]

A trade rumored most of the season finally took place on February 22 when the New York Rangers traded Andy Bathgate – whom the Maple Leafs had coveted for some time – and Don McKenney to Toronto in exchange for Dick Duff, Bob Nevin, Arnie Brown, Bill Collins and Rod Seiling. Ranger fans did not like the deal and in the next game chants of "Muzz must go!" were heard, referring to Muzz Patrick, the Rangers' general manager.[24] However, Bathgate – his days as a scoring star through – and McKenney both would be gone from Toronto by the end of the next season, while Seiling, Nevin and Brown would star for the Rangers for many years to come.[25]

Several players scored their 200th goal in the season, with Camille Henry of the Rangers scoring his against Boston on October 20, Bobby Hull of the Black Hawks against the Rangers on December 11, Dean Prentice of the Bruins against the Hawks on December 12, as well as George Armstrong and Frank Mahovlich.[26]

Goaltender Eddie Johnston played every minute of all 70 games for the Boston Bruins, the last time in NHL history a goaltender played every minute of every game.

The regular season title was secured by the Canadiens after Chicago, which had a substantial lead halfway through the season, played little better than .500 hockey the rest of the way; a Habs' 2–1 win against the Rangers on the road the last game of the season was needed to nose ahead of the Black Hawks, which had never to that date finished first in the league standings.[27]

Final standings

National Hockey League[28]
1Montreal Canadiens70362113209167+4285
2Chicago Black Hawks70362212218169+4984
3Toronto Maple Leafs70332512192172+2078
4Detroit Red Wings70302911191204−1371
5New York Rangers70223810186242−5654
6Boston Bruins70184012170212−4248


For the first time since the league began using the best-of-seven playoff format in 1939, all three series went the full seven games.

Playoff bracket

Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
1 Montreal Canadiens 3
3 Toronto Maple Leafs 4
3 Toronto Maple Leafs 4
4 Detroit Red Wings 3
2 Chicago Black Hawks 3
4 Detroit Red Wings 4


The playoffs had the same match-ups as the previous season in each round with the two Canadian teams, Toronto and Montreal, and two American teams, Detroit and Chicago meeting in Semifinals. As with the previous season, the Maple Leafs ousted the Canadiens and the Red Wings again defeated the Black Hawks.

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (3) Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto won series 4–3

(2) Chicago Black Hawks vs. (4) Detroit Red Wings

Detroit won series 4–3

Stanley Cup Finals

Toronto won series 4–3


1963–64 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Regular season champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer)
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
Jacques Laperriere, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Pierre Pilote, Chicago Black Hawks
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Ken Wharram, Chicago Black Hawks
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender of team with the best goals-against average)
Charlie Hodge, Montreal Canadiens

All-Star teams

First team  Position  Second team
Glenn Hall, Chicago Black Hawks G Charlie Hodge, Montreal Canadiens
Pierre Pilote, Chicago Black Hawks D Moose Vasko, Chicago Black Hawks
Tim Horton, Toronto Maple Leafs D Jacques Laperrière, Montreal Canadiens
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks C Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens
Kenny Wharram, Chicago Black Hawks RW Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks LW Frank Mahovlich, 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
Stan MikitaChicago Black Hawks70395089146
Bobby HullChicago Black Hawks7043448750
Jean BeliveauMontreal Canadiens6828507842
Andy BathgateNew York Rangers / Toronto Maple Leafs7119587734
Gordie HoweDetroit Red Wings6926477370
Kenny WharramChicago Black Hawks7039327118
Murray OliverBoston Bruins7024446841
Phil GoyetteNew York Rangers6724416515
Rod GilbertNew York Rangers7024406462
Dave KeonToronto Maple Leafs702337606


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
Johnny BowerToronto Maple Leafs5130091062.112416115
Charlie HodgeMontreal Canadiens6237201402.263318118
Glenn HallChicago Black Hawks6538601482.303419117
Terry SawchukDetroit Red Wings5331401382.64252075
Eddie JohnstonBoston Bruins7042002113.011840126
Don SimmonsToronto Maple Leafs211191633.179913
Jacques PlanteN.Y. Rangers6539002203.38223673
Roger CrozierDetroit Red Wings15900513.405642



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1963–64 (listed with their first team):

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1963–64 (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.
  • McFarlane, Brian (1973). The Story of the National Hockey League. New York, NY: Pagurian Press. ISBN 0-684-13424-1.
  • McFarlane, Brian (1969), 50 Years Of Hockey, Winnipeg, MAN: Greywood Publishing, ASIN B000GW45S0
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