1920–21 NHL season
|League||National Hockey League|
|Duration||December 22, 1920 - March 14, 1921|
|Number of games||24|
|Number of teams||4|
|Top scorer||Newsy Lalonde (Montreal)|
|O'Brien Cup champions||Ottawa Senators|
|Runners-up||Toronto St. Patricks|
The 1920–21 NHL season was the fourth season of the National Hockey League (NHL). Four teams each played 24 games in a split season. The Quebec franchise was transferred to Hamilton, Ontario to become the Hamilton Tigers. The Ottawa Senators won the league championship in a playoff with the Toronto St. Patricks. The Senators went on to win the Stanley Cup by defeating the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association three games to two in a best-of-five series. This would be the last split season before the NHL changed its regular season and playoff formats.
Eddie Livingstone was again talking of creating a rival league and mentioned Hamilton as a city in his league. To head this off, league president Frank Calder got the owners of the league to admit a Hamilton franchise. As Abso-Pure had built an arena, all owners agreed that it would be wise to have a franchise in Hamilton. Because Quebec had done so badly the previous season, Calder said that Quebec's players would be given to Hamilton. Although Mike Quinn was non-committal at first, he finally sold the team to Hamilton and it became the Hamilton Tigers.
The Tigers had some trouble signing Joe Malone from the Quebec days, but he finally did sign. The Tigers were awarded two players from the Senators, Punch Broadbent and Sprague Cleghorn by NHL president Calder, but both refused to sign with the Tigers, and eventually returned to the Senators.
The Tigers stunned the Canadiens 5–0 in the team's first-ever game with Babe Dye starring and Howard Lockhart getting the only shutout of his NHL career. The Toronto St. Patricks lost Corbett Denneny to injuries and recalled Dye from Hamilton, giving them Mickey Roach in his place.
Corbett Denneny scored six goals in a game January 26, 1921 helping the Toronto St. Patricks to wallop the Hamilton Tigers 10–3. Cy Denneny wasn't about to let his brother steal the thunder and he scored six goals himself in a March 7 game as the Ottawa Senators hammered the Hamilton Tigers 12–5. For the first time, a brother combination had scored six goals in a game the same season.
Also on January 26, 1921, the Ottawa Senators left the ice with 5:13 to play in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. According to the Senators, referee Cooper Smeaton was one-sided in favour of the Canadiens. Smeaton let the Canadiens continue to play, allowing goals by Newsy Lalonde and Amos Arbour before calling the game. Smeaton denied the claim, stating "a referee is always paid and receives the same salary, regardless what team wins." Smeaton would resign over the incident, but was convinced to return to refereeing later in the season. The Senators were fined $500 by NHL president Frank Calder for the incident.
|Toronto St. Patricks||10||5||5||0||10||39||47|
|Toronto St. Patricks||14||10||4||0||20||66||53|
 Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF= Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
Note: Teams that qualified for playoffs highlighted in bold.
All dates 1921
After the regular season, Toronto and Ottawa played in a total goals series to see who would win the O'Brien Cup and go on to compete for the Stanley Cup. Ottawa easily won by shutting out the St. Pats in both games. Ottawa then went onto play the Vancouver Millionaires of the PCHA.
Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto St. Patricks
|March 10||Ottawa Senators||5||Toronto St. Patricks||0|
|March 14||Ottawa Senators||2||Toronto St. Patricks||0|
Ottawa wins total goals series 7 goals to 0
Stanley Cup Finals
Ottawa vs. Vancouver
|March 21||Ottawa Senators||1||Vancouver Millionaires||2|
|March 24||Vancouver Millionaires||3||Ottawa Senators||4|
|March 28||Vancouver Millionaires||2||Ottawa Senators||3|
|March 31||Ottawa Senators||2||Vancouver Millionaires||3|
|April 4||Vancouver Millionaires||1||Ottawa Senators||2|
Ottawa wins best-of-five series 3 games to 2 for the Stanley Cup
Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points
|Newsy Lalonde||Montreal Canadiens||24||33||10||43|
|Cecil "Babe" Dye||Hamilton Tigers / Toronto St. Pats||24||35||5||40|
|Cy Denneny||Ottawa Senators||24||34||5||39|
|Joe Malone||Hamilton Tigers||20||28||9||37|
|Frank Nighbor||Ottawa Senators||24||19||10||29|
|Reg Noble||Toronto St. Patricks||24||19||8||27|
|Harry Cameron||Toronto St. Patricks||24||18||9||27|
|George "Goldie" Prodgers||Hamilton Tigers||24||18||9||27|
|Corbett Denneny||Toronto St. Patricks||20||19||7||26|
|Jack Darragh||Ottawa Senators||24||11||15||26|
|Clint Benedict||Ottawa Senators||24||1462||14||10||0||75||2||3.08|
|Jake Forbes||Toronto St. Patricks||20||1221||13||7||0||78||0||3.83|
|Georges Vezina||Montreal Canadiens||24||1441||13||11||0||99||1||4.12|
|Howie Lockhart||Hamilton Tigers||24||1454||6||18||0||132||1||5.45|
|Ivan Mitchell||Toronto St. Patricks||4||240||2||2||0||22||0||5.50|
NHL Playoff scoring leader
Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points
The O'Brien Cup, still considered the championship of the NHA, was not awarded to Ottawa until November 1921. It had remained under the care of the Canadiens who had won it in 1917, until the death of their owner, George Kennedy in October 1921, when the NHL made arrangements to re-use the trophy.
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1920–21 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1920–21 (listed with their last team):
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- Pacific Coast Hockey Association
- Ice hockey at the 1920 Summer Olympics
- List of pre-NHL seasons
- 1920 in sports
- 1921 in sports
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- Dinger 2011, p. 145.
- "1920-21 Regular Season - Goalie Season Stats Leaders". NHL. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
- "O'Brien Trophy To Be Given To Ottawa". The Morning Leader (Regina, Saskatchewan). November 17, 1921. p. 14. Retrieved July 27, 2011.