1976–77 NHL season

The 1976–77 NHL season was the 60th season of the National Hockey League. The Kansas City Scouts moved to Denver, Colorado, and became the Colorado Rockies and the California Golden Seals moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and became the Cleveland Barons. The Montreal Canadiens once again dominated the playoffs as, for the second straight year, they swept their opponent four games to none in the final series for the Stanley Cup.

1976–77 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 5, 1976 – May 14, 1977
Number of games80
Number of teams18
Top draft pickRick Green
Picked byWashington Capitals
Regular season
Season championsMontreal Canadiens
Season MVPGuy Lafleur (Canadiens)
Top scorerGuy Lafleur (Canadiens)
Playoffs MVPGuy Lafleur (Canadiens)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsMontreal Canadiens
  Runners-upBoston Bruins

League business

Two teams would relocate: The Kansas City Scouts moved to Denver, Colorado, and became the Colorado Rockies and the California Golden Seals moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and became the Cleveland Barons. The last time a relocation had occurred was when the original Ottawa Senators had relocated in 1934 to become the St. Louis Eagles. Instability and the poor performances of the Washington Capitals and the Scouts since the 1974 expansion caused the league to shelve an expansion to Denver and Seattle that had been proposed for this season.

This season was Clarence Campbell's last as NHL President. He would be succeeded by John Ziegler.

Regular season

The previous season saw the Montreal Canadiens set new records in wins and points. Both of those records were broken again by the Canadiens this season as, with the highest points percentage in post-expansion NHL history (.825), they had 60 wins and 132 points. Their home record was 33 wins, 1 loss, and 6 ties. Scoring two hundred goals more than they allowed, the Canadiens were a full 20 points ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers, however, were swept in four straight games by the third-place Boston Bruins in the semi-finals. The Bruins were in turn swept by the Canadiens in four straight in the finals.

On February 2, 1977, Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Ian Turnbull became the first player in NHL history to score five goals on five shots.[1]

Final standings

Prince of Wales Conference
Adams Division
Boston Bruins8049238312240106
Buffalo Sabres8048248301220104
Toronto Maple Leafs8033321530128581
Cleveland Barons8025421324029263


Norris Division
Montreal Canadiens8060812387171132
Los Angeles Kings8034311527124183
Pittsburgh Penguins8034331324025281
Washington Capitals8024421422130762
Detroit Red Wings801655918330941


Clarence Campbell Conference
Patrick Division
  GP W L T GF GA Pts
Philadelphia Flyers80481616323213112
New York Islanders80472112288193106
Atlanta Flames8034341226426580
New York Rangers8029371427231072


Smythe Division
St. Louis Blues803239923927673
Minnesota North Stars8023391824031064
Chicago Black Hawks8026431124029863
Vancouver Canucks8025421323529463
Colorado Rockies8020461422630754



The New York Islanders won six consecutive games before the semi-final and were the only team from the preliminary round to make it to the semi-finals, where they lost to the first-ranked, defending champion and eventual champion Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens swept the St. Louis Blues, dispatched the Islanders in six to reach the final. The losses to the Islanders were the Canadiens' only losses of their playoff run. Second-ranked Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the quarter-final, before being swept by the third-ranked Boston Bruins in the semi-final.

Playoff structure

For the 1976–77 Stanley Cup playoff tournament, the top three teams in each division were awarded playoff berths. These twelve teams were then ranked 1 through 12 according to their regular season records, regardless of divisional affiliation. The four division winners automatically qualified for the quarterfinals, while the remaining eight teams (2nd and 3rd place teams in each division) played a preliminary round. For the preliminary round, the top-ranked non-division winner played the twelfth-ranked team, the second top ranked non-division winner played the eleventh-ranked team, the third ranked non-division winner played the third-lowest ranked non-division winner. (This did not necessarily have to be the tenth-ranked team, as it was possible for a tenth-ranked team to win its division. In fact, St. Louis did win the Smythe Division as the tenth-ranked playoff team.) The remaining two non-division winners formed the final preliminary round pairing. The preliminary round consisted of a best-of-three series with the first game played on the home ice of the higher-ranked team, and the second game on the home ice of the lower-ranked team. If a third and deciding game was necessary, it was played on the home ice of the higher-ranked team.

For the quarterfinal, semifinal, and the Stanley Cup Finals, each series was a best-of-seven, with home-ice advantage in games 1, 2, 5 and 7 going to the team with the better regular season record. The other team hosted games 3 and 4, and game 6 if it was necessary. The four preliminary round winners joined the four division winners for the quarterfinals. The matchups were determined according to regular season records regardless to divisional affiliations. Of the eight remaining teams, the top-ranked team played the lowest-ranked remaining team, the second-highest-ranked remaining team played the second-lowest-ranked remaining team, and so on. The four quarterfinal winners advanced to the semifinals, with the match-ups again are reseeded by regular season records. The highest-ranked remaining team played the lowest-ranked remaining team, and the other two teams formed the second semifinal. The two semifinal winners played each other in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Playoff seeds

The twelve teams that qualified for the playoffs are ranked 1–12 based on regular season points.

Note: Only teams that qualified for the playoffs are listed here.

  1. Montreal Canadiens, Norris Division champions, Prince of Wales Conference regular season champions – 132 points
  2. Philadelphia Flyers, Patrick Division champions, Clarence Campbell Conference regular season champions – 112 points
  3. Boston Bruins, Adams Division champions – 106 points (49 wins)
  4. New York Islanders – 106 points (47 wins)
  5. Buffalo Sabres – 104 points
  6. Los Angeles Kings – 83 points
  7. Pittsburgh Penguins – 81 points (34 wins)
  8. Toronto Maple Leafs – 81 points (33 wins)
  9. Atlanta Flames – 80 points
  10. St. Louis Blues, Smythe Division champions – 73 points
  11. Minnesota North Stars – 64 points
  12. Chicago Black Hawks – 63 points

Playoff bracket

  Preliminary Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
  1 Montreal 4  
    8 St. Louis 0  
  1 Montreal 4  
  4 NY Islanders 2  
1 NY Islanders 2  
8 Chicago 0  
  4 NY Islanders 4
    5 Buffalo 0  
2 Buffalo 2
7 Minnesota 0  
  1 Montreal 4
  3 Boston 0
  2 Philadelphia 4
    7 Toronto 2  
4 Pittsburgh 1
5 Toronto 2  
  2 Philadelphia 0
  3 Boston 4  
  3 Boston 4
    6 Los Angeles 2  
3 Los Angeles 2
6 Atlanta 1  
  • Division winners earned a bye to the Quarterfinals
  • Teams were re-seeded based on regular season record after the Preliminary and Quarterfinal rounds

Preliminary Round

(1) New York Islanders vs. (8) Chicago Black Hawks

New York won series 2–0

(2) Buffalo Sabres vs. (7) Minnesota North Stars

Buffalo won series 2–0

(3) Los Angeles Kings vs. (6) Atlanta Flames

Los Angeles won series 2–1

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto won series 2–1


(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (8) St. Louis Blues

Montreal won series 4–0

(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Toronto Maple Leafs

Philadelphia won series 4–2

(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Los Angeles Kings

Boston won series 4–2

(4) New York Islanders vs. (5) Buffalo Sabres

New York won series 4–0


(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (4) New York Islanders

Montreal won series 4–2

(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (3) Boston Bruins

Boston won series 4–0

Stanley Cup Finals

The defending champion Montreal Canadiens took on the "Original Six" rival, the third-ranked Boston Bruins in the Final. Both teams had swept a series and had lost only two games in the earlier rounds. The Canadiens swept the series in four games to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

Montreal won series 4–0


1977 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Wales Conference regular season champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(Campbell Conference regular season champion)
Philadelphia Flyers
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Ed Westfall, New York Islanders
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Willi Plett, Atlanta Flames
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
Jack Adams Award:
(Best coach)
Scotty Bowman, Montreal Canadiens
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Larry Robinson, Montreal Canadiens
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender(s) of team(s) with best goaltending record)
Ken Dryden & Michel Larocque, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
John Bucyk, Murray Armstrong, John Mariucci

All-Star teams

First Team  Position  Second Team
Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens G Rogie Vachon, Los Angeles Kings
Larry Robinson, Montreal Canadiens D Denis Potvin, New York Islanders
Borje Salming, Toronto Maple Leafs D Guy Lapointe, Montreal Canadiens
Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings C Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo Sabres
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens RW Lanny McDonald, Toronto Maple Leafs
Steve Shutt, Montreal Canadiens LW Rick Martin, Buffalo Sabres

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points, PIM = Penalties In Minutes

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Guy Lafleur Montreal Canadiens80568013620
Marcel Dionne Los Angeles Kings80536912212
Steve Shutt Montreal Canadiens80604510528
Rick MacLeish Philadelphia Flyers7949489742
Gilbert Perreault Buffalo Sabres8039569530
Tim Young Minnesota North Stars8029669558
Jean Ratelle Boston Bruins7833619422
Lanny McDonald Toronto Maple Leafs8046449077
Darryl Sittler Toronto Maple Leafs7338529089
Bobby Clarke Philadelphia Flyers8027639071

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
Michel LarocqueMontreal Canadiens261525532.0919244
Ken DrydenMontreal Canadiens5632751172.14416810
Chico ReschN.Y. Islanders4627111032.28261364
Billy SmithN.Y. Islanders362089982.5021862
Don EdwardsBuffalo Sabres251480622.5116722
Gerry DesjardinsBuffalo Sabres4928711262.63311263
Bernie ParentPhiladelphia Flyers6135251592.713513125
Rogatien VachonL.A. Kings6840591842.723323128
Denis HerronPittsburgh Penguins341920942.94151151
Dunc WilsonPittsburgh Penguins4526271292.95181985


Patrick Division

Adams Division

Norris Division

Smythe Division


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1976–77 (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 1976–77 (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.
  1. Hockey's Book of Firsts, p.27, James Duplacey, JG Press, ISBN 978-1-57215-037-9
  2. Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Dan Diamond & Associates. p. 151. ISBN 9781894801225.
  3. Dinger 2011, p. 150.
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