1980–81 NHL season

The 1980–81 NHL season was the 64th season of the National Hockey League. The New York Islanders were the top regular season team and the top playoff team, winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

1980–81 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 9, 1980 – May 21, 1981
Number of games80
Number of teams21
Top draft pickDoug Wickenheiser
Picked byMontreal Canadiens
Regular season
Season championsNew York Islanders
Season MVPWayne Gretzky (Oilers)
Top scorerWayne Gretzky (Oilers)
Playoffs MVPButch Goring (Islanders)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsNew York Islanders
  Runners-upMinnesota North Stars

League business

This was the first season that the Calgary Flames played in Calgary, Alberta. Previously, they were the Atlanta Flames and played in Atlanta, Georgia.

Regular season

The season featured notable individual scoring milestones.

Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers broke Bobby Orr's single season assist record, scoring 109 assists, and Phil Esposito's point record, scoring 164 points. He won his second of an unmatched eight straight Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player

Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders became only the second man in NHL history to score 50 goals in his first 50 games. In the 50th game, played at his home rink, he had 48 goals going into the 3rd and final period (before the advent of overtime games). Bossy admitted being so embarrassed and upset that he contemplated not going out on the ice for the final period. However, Bossy got his 49th goal with 5:15 left to go in the game and the 50th with 1:50 remaining, sending the Nassau Coliseum into a delirium. Maurice Richard, the only other man to accomplish this feat, was on hand to congratulate Bossy.

Bossy's Islanders finished as regular season champions with 110 points with the St. Louis Blues finishing a close second at 107 points.

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

Prince of Wales Conference

Adams Division
Buffalo Sabres80392021327250119499
Boston Bruins80373013316272183687
Minnesota North Stars80352817291263162487
Quebec Nordiques80303218314318152478
Toronto Maple Leafs80283715322367183071


Norris Division
Montreal Canadiens80452213332232103
Los Angeles Kings8043241333729099
Pittsburgh Penguins8030371330234573
Hartford Whalers8021411829237260
Detroit Red Wings8019431825233956


Clarence Campbell Conference

Patrick Division
New York Islanders80481814355260110
Philadelphia Flyers8041241531324997
Calgary Flames8039271432929892
New York Rangers8030361431231774
Washington Capitals8026361828631770


Smythe Division
St. Louis Blues80451817352281107
Chicago Black Hawks8031331630431578
Vancouver Canucks8028322028930176
Edmonton Oilers8029351632832774
Colorado Rockies8022451325834457
Winnipeg Jets809571424640032



The Stanley Cup playoffs would see the New York Islanders dominate on their way to winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup. Notably, in the first round against the Maple Leafs, the Isles swept a three-game series, outscoring Toronto 20-4. The Islanders would go on to defeat Edmonton in six games in the quarter-finals, and in the semi-finals, the Islanders swept the Rangers and outscored them 22-8.

In game one of the Edmonton-Montreal series, Wayne Gretzky had five assists. This was a single game playoff record.[2] Another distinction was in the Minnesota North Stars' sweep of the Boston Bruins; the two games the North Stars won in Boston Garden were the first games that the team had won in Boston, either regular season or playoff, since the team had joined the NHL in 1967.

Playoff bracket

  Preliminary Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
1 NY Islanders 3  
16 Toronto 0  
  1 NY Islanders 4  
  8 Edmonton 2  
2 St. Louis 3
15 Pittsburgh 2  
  1 NY Islanders 4  
  4 NY Rangers 0  
3 Montreal 0  
14 Edmonton 3  
  2 St. Louis 2
  7 NY Rangers 4  
4 Los Angeles 1
13 NY Rangers 3  
  1 NY Islanders 4
(Pairings are re-seeded after the first and second rounds.)
  3 Minnesota 1
5 Buffalo 3  
12 Vancouver 0  
  3 Buffalo 1
  6 Minnesota 4  
6 Philadelphia 3
11 Quebec 2  
  2 Calgary 2
  3 Minnesota 4  
7 Calgary 3  
10 Chicago 0  
  4 Philadelphia 3
  5 Calgary 4  
8 Boston 0
9 Minnesota 3  

Stanley Cup Finals

The Islanders easily defeated the Minnesota North Stars in the finals in five games. The Islanders were defeated three times during the playoffs.

New York Islanders vs. Minnesota North Stars

New York won series 4–1


1981 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Wales Conference regular season champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(Campbell Conference regular season champion)
New York Islanders
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Blake Dunlop, St. Louis Blues
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Peter Stastny, Quebec Nordiques
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Butch Goring, New York Islanders
Frank J. Selke Trophy:
(Top defensive forward)
Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Jack Adams Award:
(Best coach)
Gordon "Red" Berenson, St. Louis Blues
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Randy Carlyle, Pittsburgh Penguins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Rick Kehoe, Pittsburgh Penguins
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Mike Liut, St. Louis Blues
NHL Plus/Minus Award:
(Player with best plus/minus record)
Brian Engblom, Montreal Canadiens
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender(s) of team(s) with best goaltending record)
Denis Herron, Michel Larocque, & Richard Sevigny, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
Charles M. Schulz

All-Star teams

First Team  Position  Second Team
Mike Liut, St. Louis Blues G Mario Lessard, Los Angeles Kings
Denis Potvin, New York Islanders D Larry Robinson, Montreal Canadiens
Randy Carlyle, Pittsburgh Penguins D Ray Bourque, Boston Bruins
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers C Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings
Mike Bossy, New York Islanders RW Dave Taylor, Los Angeles Kings
Charlie Simmer, Los Angeles Kings LW Bill Barber, Philadelphia Flyers

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

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

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Wayne GretzkyEdmonton Oilers805510916428
Marcel DionneLos Angeles Kings80587713570
Kent NilssonCalgary Flames80498213126
Mike BossyNew York Islanders79685111932
Dave TaylorLos Angeles Kings724765112130
Peter StastnyQuebec Nordiques77397010937
Charlie SimmerLos Angeles Kings65564910562
Mike RogersHartford Whalers80406510532
Bernie FederkoSt. Louis Blues78317310447
Jacques RichardQuebec Nordiques78525110339
Rick MiddletonBoston Bruins80445910316
Bryan TrottierNew York Islanders73317210374

Source: NHL.[3]

Leading goaltenders

Player Team GP MIN GA SO GAA
Richard SevignyMontreal3317777122.40
Rick St. CroixPhiladelphia2715676522.49
Don EdwardsBuffalo45270013332.96
Pete PeetersPhiladelphia40233311522.96
Bob SauveBuffalo35210011123.17
Don BeaupreMinnesota44258513803.20
Glenn ReschNew York Islanders/Colorado40226612133.20
Reggie LemelinCalgary2916298823.24
Gilles MelocheMinnesota38221512023.25
Mario LessardLos Angeles64374620323.25



Patrick Division

Adams Division

Norris Division

Smythe Division



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1980–81 (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 1980–81 (listed with their last team):

1981 Trading Deadline

  • Trading Deadline: MARCH 10, 1981 [5]
  • March 8, 1981: Doug Halward traded from Los Angeles to Vancouver for Vancouver's fifth round choice in 1982 Entry Draft (

Ulf Isaksson).

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.
  • "1980-81 NHL Playoff Results". hockeyDB.com.
  1. Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Dan Diamond & Associates. p. 152. ISBN 9781894801225.
  2. Jenish, D'Arcy (2009). The Montreal Canadiens:100 Years of Glory. Doubleday. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-385-66325-0.
  3. Dinger 2011, p. 152.
  4. https://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/NHL_1981_leaders.html
  5. NHL trade deadline: Deals since 1980 | Habs Inside/Out Archived 2009-02-16 at the Wayback Machine
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