1944–45 NHL season
|League||National Hockey League|
|Duration||October 28, 1944 - April 22, 1945|
|Number of games||50|
|Number of teams||6|
|Season champion||Montreal Canadiens|
|Season MVP||Elmer Lach (Montreal Canadiens)|
|Top scorer||Elmer Lach (Montreal Canadiens)|
|Stanley Cup champions||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Runners-up||Detroit Red Wings|
NHL president Red Dutton offered to resign because of business concerns, but the league's board of governors dissuaded him. Conn Smythe, at one point, was offered the presidency, but turned it down. Dutton then stayed on.
It was the year of the "Punch Line" as Rocket Richard scored 50 goals in 50 games, breaking Joe Malone's record of 44 goals, and when Richard scored his 45th, Malone was on hand to present him with the record-breaking puck. Richard had a five-goal, three-assist night against Detroit at the Montreal Forum on December 28, 1944. His centreman, Elmer Lach, though, won the scoring race with 26 goals and 80 points. Toe Blake finished third with 29 goals, 38 assists, and for the second time, an entire line finished first, second, third scoring. The previous time had been in 1939–40, when the Boston Bruins' Kraut Line of Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart accomplished the feat. Schmidt finished with 52 points in 48 games that year, and Bauer and Dumart 43 apiece.
Montreal dared not loan Paul Bibeault to Toronto again with his fine year the previous season and loaned him instead to Boston. But the Maple Leafs came up with a fine rookie named Frank McCool who won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie. For the first time, a team produced three consecutive top rookies. McCool and Chicago netminder Mike Karakas tied for the league lead in shutouts with four each.
Bill Durnan won his second consecutive Vezina Trophy with Montreal. Flash Hollett became the first defenceman to score twenty goals in one season. The record would stand until Bobby Orr broke it several decades later.
A major trade that occurred this year was Chicago trading their great defenceman Earl Seibert to Detroit for Don Grosso, Cully Simon and Byron "Butch" McDonald. After team owner Frederic McLaughlin died, it was just a matter of time before Bill Tobin would trade Seibert, as the two did not get along.
|2||Detroit Red Wings||50||31||14||5||218||161||+57||67|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||50||24||22||4||183||161||+22||52|
|4||Boston Bruins||50||16||30||4||179||219||-40 −40||36|
|5||Chicago Black Hawks||50||13||30||7||141||194||-53 −53||33|
|6||New York Rangers||50||11||29||10||154||247||-93 −93||32|
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens
Toronto wins best-of-seven series 4 games to 2
Detroit Red Wings vs. Boston Bruins
Detroit wins best-of-seven series 4 games to 3
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings
Toronto wins best-of-seven series 4 games to 3
|Semi-finals||Stanley Cup Final|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||4|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||4|
|2||Detroit Red Wings||3|
|2||Detroit Red Wings||4|
|Detroit Red Wings|
|Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Regular season champion)
|Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
|Frank McCool, Toronto Maple Leafs|
(Most valuable player)
|Elmer Lach, Montreal Canadiens|
|Lady Byng Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
|Bill Mosienko, Chicago Black Hawks|
(Fewest goals allowed)
|Bill Durnan, Montreal Canadiens|
Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|Elmer Lach||Montreal Canadiens||50||26||54||80||37|
|Maurice Richard||Montreal Canadiens||50||50||23||73||46|
|Toe Blake||Montreal Canadiens||49||29||38||67||25|
|Bill Cowley||Boston Bruins||49||25||40||65||12|
|Ted Kennedy||Toronto Maple Leafs||49||29||25||54||14|
|Bill Mosienko||Chicago Black Hawks||50||28||26||54||0|
|Joe Carveth||Detroit Red Wings||50||26||28||54||6|
|Ab DeMarco||New York Rangers||50||24||30||54||10|
|Clint Smith||Chicago Black Hawks||50||23||31||54||0|
|Syd Howe||Detroit Red Wings||46||17||36||53||6|
Note: GP = Games played; Min - Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts
|Bill Durnan||Montreal Canadiens||50||3000||121||2.42||38||8||4||1|
|Frank McCool||Toronto Maple Leafs||50||3000||161||3.22||24||22||4||4|
|Harry Lumley||Detroit Red Wings||37||2220||119||3.22||24||10||3||1|
|Connie Dion||Detroit Red Wings||12||720||39||3.25||6||4||2||0|
|Mike Karakas||Chicago Black Hawks||48||2880||187||3.90||12||29||7||4|
|Harvey Bennett||Boston Bruins||24||1470||103||4.20||10||12||2||0|
|Paul Bibeault||Boston Bruins||26||1530||116||4.55||6||18||2||0|
|Ken McAuley||New York Rangers||46||2760||227||4.93||11||25||10||1|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1944–45 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
- Fern Flaman, Boston Bruins
- Murray Henderson, Boston Bruins
- Pete Horeck, Chicago Black Hawks
- Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings
- Bill Ezinicki, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Frank McCool, Toronto Maple Leafs
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1944–45 (listed with their last team):
- Bill Thoms, Boston Bruins
- Cully Dahlstrom, Chicago Black Hawks
- Mush March, Chicago Black Hawks
- Johnny Gottselig, Chicago Black Hawks
- Kilby MacDonald, New York Rangers
- Bucko McDonald, New York Rangers
- Jack McLean, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Diamond, Dan, ed. (1994). Years of glory, 1942-1967: the National Hockey League's official book of the six-team era. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-2817-2.
- 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. 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.
- Hockey’s Book of Firsts, p.23, James Duplacey, JG Press, ISBN 978-1-57215-037-9
- "1944–1945 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League.
- Dinger 2011, p. 148.