1967–68 NHL season

The 1967–68 NHL season was the 51st season of the National Hockey League. The league expanded to 12 teams, putting the new six in the newly created West Division, while the original six were all placed in the newly created East Division. The regular season schedule was expanded to 74 games per team. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup against the new St. Louis Blues, in four games.

1967–68 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 11, 1967 – May 11, 1968
Number of games74
Number of teams12
Top draft pickRick Pagnutti
Picked byLos Angeles Kings
Regular season
Season championsMontreal Canadiens
Season MVPStan Mikita (Black Hawks)
Top scorerStan Mikita (Black Hawks)
Playoffs MVPGlenn Hall (Blues)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsMontreal Canadiens
  Runners-upSt. Louis Blues

League business

This season saw the NHL expand from the "Original Six" teams by adding six new franchises, including the St. Louis Blues, California Seals, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Los Angeles Kings. On December 8, 1967, the California Seals were renamed the Oakland Seals before being renamed again to the California Golden Seals in 1970.[1] As a result of the expansion, the League reorganized its teams into two divisions, placing the Original Six teams into the East Division and the expansion franchises into the West Division. The NHL, furthermore, increased its regular season schedule from 70 to 74 games per team [2] with each team playing 50 games against opponents within its own division (10 against each divisional opponent) and 24 games with teams in the opposite division (4 games per opponent). The newly created Clarence S. Campbell Bowl was awarded to the team that finished first in the West Division during the regular season, the Prince of Wales Trophy was likewise awarded the East Division first-place team. A new format for the playoffs would also be introduced which would see the top four teams in each division qualify for the post-season with the first and third and the second and fourth place teams in each respective division pairing off in a divisional semi-final series. The winners of the latter would then compete in their respective divisional final series and a berth in the Stanley Cup finals. All series would be best-of-seven contests.[2]

This season, the NHL also added a new player award called the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, named in honour of Bill Masterton who died on January 15, 1968, after sustaining an injury during a game (the first time an NHL player had ever died directly as a result of an on-ice injury).

The minimum age of players subject to amateur draft was changed to 20.[1]

There were a large number of holdouts this year. Three New York Ranger players, including Rod Gilbert, Arnie Brown and Orland Kurtenbach were fined $500 by their team. However, Ed Van Impe of the Flyers refused to sign his contract, followed by Earl Ingarfield and Al MacNeil also refused to sign, then Tim Horton of Toronto, Norm Ullman of Detroit and Kenny Wharram and Stan Mikita of Chicago. Led by Alan Eagleson, the new National Hockey League Players' Association was up and running.

Regular season


On October 11, 1967, Jean Beliveau scored his 400th career goal on goaltender Hank Bassen of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Canadiens stumbled out of the gate. In their first west coast road trip, the Seals beat them 2–1 and the Kings beat them 4–2. The Habs lost quite a few more and were in last place by December. But by January, Jean Beliveau began to score and others were inspired also. The Habs got very hot, winning 12 consecutive games and then put together 10 more wins to take the East Division lead. Paced by Gump Worsley, who had 6 shutouts and a 1.98 goals against average and backstopped the team to the fewest goals allowed in the league, managed to keep first place thereafter. Worsley, for the first time, made the first all-star team.

On February 24, 1968, Rogie Vachon of Montreal was the victim of four goals by Rod Gilbert, who set an NHL record with 16 shots on goal.

Eddie Giacomin again led the league with 8 shutouts, and led the Rangers to second place, bolstered by Jean Ratelle's emergence into stardom.

Boston obtained Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield in a blockbuster trade with Chicago. This trade, as shown over time, heavily favored the Bruins. This, coinciding with the rise of Bobby Orr, led to an improvement in Boston's play, and the Bruins led the league in scoring behind Esposito's 84 points and made the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade. Though he missed action with a knee injury, Orr still won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman.

By contrast, the Chicago Black Hawks fell into a tailspin, and despite the scoring heroics of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, were hard pressed to make the playoffs. Mediocre team defense and goaltending was the culprit.

Roger Crozier felt the strain of goaltending and walked out on Detroit. He came back, but the Red Wings finished last anyway, despite a potent offense led by Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio and Norm Ullman. Even a late season trade of Ullman and Paul Henderson for Toronto star Frank Mahovlich and future Blues star Garry Unger was too little, too late. However, on March 24, 1968, Mahovlich became only the 11th player to score 300 goals as he scored both his 300th and 301st goals in a 5–3 win over the Boston Bruins.

Meanwhile, the defending Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs, still steady on defense in front of elder statesman Johnny Bower and backup Bruce Gamble, had numerous problems. Mahovlich spent time in hospital with a nervous breakdown, and the season was marred by contract disputes and tension with the high-strung coach, Punch Imlach. A late season charge failed to win a playoff berth.

In the West Division, the Philadelphia Flyers became the first regular season champion of the expansion clubs. While their offense was poor (career minor-league Leon Rochefort led the team with just 21 goals), ex-Bruins' goaltenders Bernie Parent and Doug Favell showed surprising form. Behind such hardnosed players as Gary Dornhoefer, Ed Van Impe, Larry Zeidel and Forbes Kennedy, the team showed the first glimmers of the "Broad Street Bullies" of future years.

The Los Angeles Kings were a team that writers predicted to finish last in the new West Division.[3] Owner Jack Kent Cooke had purchased the American Hockey League's Springfield Indians for $1 million to bolster the Kings roster. Surprisingly, the Kings finished second, just one point out of first. Bill Flett scored 26 goals, while Eddie Joyal scored 23 goals, adding 34 assists for 57 points and was the second leading scorer in the West Division. Among the expansion teams, the Kings had the best record against the established teams, going 10–12–2 vs. the Eastern Division.

Oakland, predicted to finish first, fell far short of the mark, amidst poor attendance. Defenceman Kent Douglas, a former Calder Memorial Trophy winner, played far below expected form and was traded to Detroit for Ted Hampson and defenceman Bert Marshall. The Seals finished last in the West Division.

Glenn Hall may have been deemed too old by the Black Hawks, which left him unprotected in the expansion draft, but not for the St. Louis Blues, who rode his five shutouts to a third-place finish. A surprising benefit was their leading scorer, previously unheralded Red Berenson (with only 45 points in 185 previous NHL games) who exploded into stardom, more than doubling his career total in only 55 games.

By contrast, the Pittsburgh Penguins finished fifth, led by former Ranger star Andy Bathgate. Behind an elderly roster—nine of their top ten scorers and both of their goaltenders were over thirty—they could neither muster much offense nor defense.

The Minnesota North Stars had their bright moments despite finishing fourth in the West Division. On December 30, 1967, Bill Masterton and Wayne Connelly each scored goals in a 5–4 upset win over the Boston Bruins. On January 10, Connelly—who would finish the season with 35 goals to lead his team and the West Division—had a hat trick in a 6–4 win over the West Division power, the Philadelphia Flyers and Masterton was the architect on all three goals.

Tragedy struck the league on January 14, 1968. In a game at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Oakland Seals were in town to play the North Stars and Bill Masterton led a rush into the Oakland zone. Two defencemen, Larry Cahan and Ron Harris braced for the old fashioned sandwich check and as Masterton fired the puck into the Seals zone, the two hit Masterton hard but cleanly. Masterton flipped backwards and hit his head on the ice. He was removed to a Minneapolis hospital where doctors were prevented from doing surgery by the seriousness of the head injury. Early on the morning of January 15, 1968, Bill Masterton died. He was the first player to die as the direct result of injuries suffered in an NHL game, the only such incident in a senior game since 1907.

Final standings

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold

East Division[4]
1Montreal Canadiens74422210236167+6994
2New York Rangers74392312226183+4390
3Boston Bruins74372710259216+4384
4Chicago Black Hawks74322616212222−1080
5Toronto Maple Leafs74333110209176+3376
6Detroit Red Wings74273512245257−1266
West Division[4]
1Philadelphia Flyers74313211173179−673
2Los Angeles Kings74313310200224−2472
3St. Louis Blues74273116177191−1470
4Minnesota North Stars74273215191226−3569
5Pittsburgh Penguins74273413195216−2167
6Oakland Seals74154217153219−6647


All series but Bruins-Canadiens had a game postponed after the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4.[5]

Playoff bracket

Quarterfinals Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
1 Montreal 4
3 Boston 0
1 Montreal 4
East Division
4 Chicago 1
2 New York 2
4 Chicago 4
E1 Montreal 4
W3 St. Louis 0
1 Philadelphia 3
3 St. Louis 4
3 St. Louis 4
West Division
4 Minnesota 3
2 Los Angeles 3
4 Minnesota 4


The Canadiens drew the third-place Boston Bruins in the first round. The Bruins, making their first appearance in the playoffs since 1959, were swept in four games. In the other East series, the second-place Rangers faced off against the fourth-place Chicago Black Hawks. The Black Hawks, led by Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita defeated the Rangers in six to set up a Montreal-Chicago East Division showdown. The Black Hawks could not provide another upset, and lost to the Canadiens in five games, giving Montreal their only defeat of the playoffs.

In the West, all four teams played their first playoff series. The first-place Philadelphia Flyers lost their first-ever playoff series to the Blues, led by goaltender Glenn Hall and coached by future Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman in seven games, while the second-place Los Angeles Kings lost to the fourth-place Minnesota North Stars. The Blues would defeat the North Stars in seven games to advance to their first final.

(E1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (E3) Boston Bruins

Montreal won series 4–0

(E2) New York Rangers vs. (E4) Chicago Black Hawks

Chicago won series 4–2

(W1) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (W3) St. Louis Blues

St. Louis won series 4–3

(W2) Los Angeles Kings vs. (W4) Minnesota North Stars

Minnesota won series 4–3


(E1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (E4) Chicago Black Hawks

Montreal won series 4–1

(W3) St. Louis Blues vs. (W4) Minnesota North Stars

St. Louis won series 4–3

Stanley Cup Finals

The Blues faced the Canadiens for the Stanley Cup. Blues coach Bowman, a long-time member of the Canadiens organization was unable to spur the Blues to an upset, but they made it a hard-fought series, with each game being decided by one goal and two going to overtime. However, the Canadiens, led by Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard, were not to be denied and swept the series in four games. Despite this, the exceptional performance of the heavy underdog Blues impressed and surprised most hockey fans who were expecting an utter blowout by the Canadiens, to the point that their goaltender Glenn Hall, who helped lead the team to the Cup Finals, was named the MVP of the playoffs.

Montreal won series 4–0


1967–68 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(East Division champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(West Division champion)
Philadelphia Flyers
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Claude Provost, Montreal Canadiens
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Derek Sanderson, Boston Bruins
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Glenn Hall, St. Louis Blues
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
Vezina Trophy:
(Best goaltending record, regular season)
Rogatien Vachon & Gump Worsley, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
Tommy Lockhart, Walter A. Brown, General John Kilpatrick

All-Star teams

First Team  Position  Second Team
Gump Worsley, Montreal Canadiens G Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins D J. C. Tremblay, Montreal Canadiens
Tim Horton, Toronto Maple Leafs D Jim Neilson, New York Rangers
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks C Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings RW Rod Gilbert, New York Rangers
Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks LW Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

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

Player Team GP G A PTS PIM
Stan MikitaChicago Black Hawks7240478714
Phil EspositoBoston Bruins7435498421
Gordie HoweDetroit Red Wings7439438253
Jean RatelleNew York Rangers7432467818
Rod GilbertNew York Rangers7329487712
Bobby HullChicago Black Hawks7144317539
Norm UllmanToronto Maple Leafs7135377228
Alex DelvecchioDetroit Red Wings7422487014
Johnny BucykBoston Bruins723039698
Kenny WharramChicago Black Hawks7427426918

Source: NHL.[6]

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
Gump WorsleyMontreal Canadiens402213731.9819986
Johnny BowerToronto Maple Leafs432239842.25141874
Doug FavellPhiladelphia Flyers372192832.27151564
Bruce GambleToronto Maple Leafs412204852.32191335
Eddie GiacominNew York Rangers6639401602.443620108
Glenn HallSt. Louis Blues4928581182.48192195
Rogie VachonMontreal Canadiens392227922.48231324
Bernie ParentPhiladelphia Flyers382248932.48161754
Seth MartinSt. Louis Blues301552672.5981071
Denis DeJordyChicago Black Hawks5028381282.712315114

Other statistics

The NHL began tracking the plus-minus statistic this season. It measures the difference between the number of goals scored by a player's team while a player is on the ice against the number of goals scored by the opposing team. Power play goals do not count toward the statistic; it does include short-handed goals scored by the opposing team during power plays.





The following is a list of notable players who played their first NHL game in 1967–68 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last games

The following is a list of notable players who played their last game in the NHL in 1967–68 (listed with their last team):

See also


  • 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.
  • 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.
  1. NHL Guide & Record Book 2005. p. 9.
  2. "HickokSports.com – History – NHL 1967–68 Season". Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
  3. Brian McFarlane, 50 Years of Hockey, p. 140–143, Greywood Publishing Ltd, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  4. "1967–1968 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League.
  5. Stanley Cup Notebook
  6. Dinger 2011, p. 150.
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