1938–39 NHL season
|League||National Hockey League|
|Duration||November 3, 1938 - April 16, 1939|
|Number of games||48|
|Number of teams||7|
|Season champions||Boston Bruins|
|Season MVP||Toe Blake (Montreal Canadiens)|
|Top scorer||Toe Blake (Montreal Canadiens)|
|Stanley Cup champions||Boston Bruins|
|Runners-up||Toronto Maple Leafs|
The 1938–39 NHL season was the 22nd season of the National Hockey League (NHL). Seven teams each played 48 games. The Boston Bruins were the Stanley Cup winners as they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs four games to one in the final series.
Just prior to the start of the 1938–39 season, the league held a meeting to decide the fate of the Montreal Maroons. The team had requested a shift to St. Louis, but this was rejected after considerable discussion, resulting in the Maroons suspending operations for the season. They sold most of their players to the Canadiens, and it was evident that the Maroons were through for good. With only seven teams left, the NHL decided to go back to the one division format.
Prior to the start of the season, the Boston Bruins sold their star goaltender, Tiny Thompson, who had just won a record fourth Vezina Trophy, to the Detroit Red Wings The fans thought Art Ross was crazy,but soon they were applauding rookie Frank Brimsek, would go on to back-stop the Bruins to a first overall finish and a Stanley Cup victory. He wiped out Thompson's shutout sequence record with three consecutive shutouts. He nearly equalled his new record with three more. He ended the season with 10 shutouts, and earned the nickname "Mr. Zero". He also became the first goaltender to win both the Vezina Trophy and Calder Trophy in the same season.
Joseph Cattarinich died on December 7 of a heart attack following an eye operation. Cattarinich was the original goaltender of the Montreal Canadiens when they were formed in 1909 and later a part-owner of the team. He was 57.
The Montreal Canadiens eroded to the point where Jules Dugal replaced Cecil Hart as manager and coach. Dugal wasn't much better and the Canadiens finished sixth. One bright note was that Toe Blake won the scoring title, however, despite the poor showing of the team.
Chicago, after its Stanley Cup win the previous season, began floundering at mid-season and owner Frederic McLaughlin was displeased. Accordingly, he fired coach Bill Stewart and hired left wing Paul Thompson in his place. But the Black Hawks continued to lose and finished last.
The New York Americans, up in third place at mid-season, proceeded to fall into a big slump in the second half and though they finished fourth, they were below .500 and had the worst defence in the league. Part of the problem was the retirements of Ching Johnson and Hap Day on defence. Al Murray was also out of action for quite a time. Still, goaltender Earl Robertson found himself on the second all-star team.
|New York Rangers||48||26||16||6||149||105||58|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||48||19||20||9||114||107||47|
|New York Americans||48||17||21||10||119||157||44|
|Detroit Red Wings||48||18||24||6||107||128||42|
|Chicago Black Hawks||48||12||28||8||91||132||32|
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against
Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.
Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
The Rangers became the first team in NHL history to force a Game seven after losing the first three games of a series. Mel Hill, a right wing for the Bruins, scored a record three overtime goals in a single series.
|March 21||Boston Bruins||2||New York Rangers||1||3OT|
|March 23||New York Rangers||2||Boston Bruins||3||OT|
|March 26||New York Rangers||1||Boston Bruins||4|
|March 28||Boston Bruins||1||New York Rangers||2|
|March 30||New York Rangers||2||Boston Bruins||1||OT|
|April 1||Boston Bruins||1||New York Rangers||3|
|April 2||New York Rangers||1||Boston Bruins||2||3OT|
Boston wins best-of-seven series 4–3
|Quarter-finals||Semi-finals||Stanley Cup Final|
|2||New York Rangers||3|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||1|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||2|
|4||New York Americans||0|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||2|
|5||Detroit Red Wings||1|
|5||Detroit Red Wings||2|
(Best first-year player)
|Frank Brimsek, Boston Bruins|
(Most valuable player)
|Toe Blake, Montreal Canadiens|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
|Clint Smith, New York Rangers|
(Canadian Division champion)
|Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Prince of Wales Trophy:
(American Division champion)
(Fewest goals allowed)
|Frank Brimsek, Boston Bruins|
|Toe Blake||Montreal Canadiens||48||24||23||47||10|
|Sweeney Schriner||New York Americans||48||13||31||44||20|
|Bill Cowley||Boston Bruins||34||8||34||42||2|
|Clint Smith||New York Rangers||48||21||20||41||2|
|Marty Barry||Detroit Red Wings||48||13||28||41||4|
|Syl Apps||Toronto Maple Leafs||44||15||25||40||4|
|Tommy Anderson||New York Americans||47||13||27||40||14|
|Johnny Gottselig||Chicago Black Hawks||48||16||23||39||15|
|Paul Haynes||Montreal Canadiens||47||5||33||38||27|
|Roy Conacher||Boston Bruins||47||26||11||37||12|
Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes
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The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1938–39 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
- Roy Conacher, Boston Bruins
- Frank Brimsek, Boston Bruins
- Ab DeMarco, Chicago Black Hawks
- Don Grosso, Detroit Red Wings
- Sid Abel, Detroit Red Wings
- Jack Stewart, Detroit Red Wings
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1938–39 (listed with their last team):
- Russ Blinco, Chicago Black Hawks
- Paul Thompson, Chicago Black Hawks
- Baldy Northcott, Chicago Black Hawks
- Alex Levinsky, Chicago Black Hawks
- Bob Gracie, Chicago Black Hawks
- Larry Aurie, Detroit Red Wings
- Herbie Lewis, Detroit Red Wings
- Dave Trottier, Detroit Red Wings
- Babe Siebert, Montreal Canadiens
- Jimmy Ward, Montreal Canadiens
- Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Hockey. Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-85-X.
- Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. 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. 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.
- Standings: NHL Public Relations Department (2008). Dave McCarthy et al, ed. THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE Official Guide & Record Book/2009. National Hockey League. p. 147. ISBN 978-1-894801-14-0.