The NHL decided to increase the number of games played to 70 games for each team. Each team played every other team 14 times. Goaltenders would no longer have to face a penalty shot if they took a major penalty. A team-mate could serve the penalty in the penalty box.
In June 1949, the NHL decided to henceforth paint the ice surface white. This was done by adding white paint to the water before freezing. Previously, the ice surface was just frozen water on concrete, which made a dull grey colour. By "whitening" the ice surface, it made seeing and following the puck much easier, especially on the relatively new medium of television.
On November 2, 1949, at Chicago Stadium, a rather serious brawl broke out in a game Chicago defeated Montreal 4–1. During the second period, some rinkside fans began to get on Montreal defenceman Ken Reardon, and when one fan grabbed his sweater, Reardon swung his stick and hit one of the rowdies. Leo Gravelle and Billy Reay joined in, and yet another fan climbed over the boards and challenged Reardon, but was forced back to his seat. When the game ended, police arrested Reardon, Reay and Gravelle. Later, the players were cleared when a judge ruled that the fans were the aggressors and overstepped the prerogatives as fans.
After Chicago defeated Toronto 6–3 on November 27, Conn Smythe told goaltender Turk Broda, "I'm not running a fat man's team!" and said that Broda would not play until he reduced his weight to 190 lb. At the time, Broda weighed almost 200. Al Rollins was purchased from Cleveland of the AHL and Gil Mayer was brought up for good measure. When he reached 189 pounds, Broda went back into the Toronto net and he gained his fourth shutout of the season December 3 and Maple Leaf fans cheered all of his 22 saves.
After the Red Wings clobbered Chicago 9–2 on February 8, writer Lew Walter tried to interview Chicago coach Charlie Conacher. Conacher exploded in anger, criticized Walter's past stories and punched Walter, knocking him down to the floor. Walter announced that he would seek a warrant for Conacher's arrest. NHL president Clarence Campbell took a dim view of Conacher's actions and fined him $200. Conacher then phoned Walter and apologized, saying he regretted what had taken place.
Montreal fans began to boo Bill Durnan, like they had in 1947–48, despite the fact he was the league's best goalkeeper, and in an interview, he stated he was going to retire at the end of the season. In reality, Durnan had been cut a number of times during the season, and at one point, had to take penicillin. It caused a high fever and he missed some action. Despite this, he recorded eight shutouts and won the Vezina Trophy for the sixth time in his seven-year career.
Ken Reardon got himself into trouble when he made a statement to a magazine suggesting retribution to Cal Gardner, stating: "I'm going to make sure that Gardner gets 14 stitches in his mouth. I may have to wait a long time, but I'll get even." On March 1, 1950, Clarence Campbell made Reardon post a $1,000 bond to make sure he didn't carry out his threat. When the season ended, Reardon was refunded the $1,000, since he did not hurt Gardner as he said he would.
This was the last season that the O'Brien Cup was awarded to the Stanley Cup runner up – in this season, the New York Rangers – as it went into retirement for the second and final time at season's end. (It was not awarded between 1917 and 1921)
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