1967–68 NHL season

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1967–68 NHL season
League National Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Duration October 1967-May 1968
Number of games 74
Number of teams 12
Regular season
Season champions Montreal Canadiens
Season MVP Stan Mikita (Chicago Black Hawks)
Top scorer Stan Mikita (Chicago Black Hawks)
Playoffs
Playoffs MVP Glenn Hall (St. Louis Blues)
Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup champions Montreal Canadiens
  Runners-up St. Louis Blues
NHL seasons

The 1967–68 NHL season was the 51st season of the National Hockey League. The league expanded to 12 teams, putting the new six in the West Division, while the original six were all placed in the East Division. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup against the new St. Louis Blues.

League business[edit]

This season saw the NHL expand from the "Original Six" teams by adding six new franchises, including the St. Louis Blues, California Seals, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Los Angeles Kings. On December 8, 1967, the California Seals were renamed the Oakland Seals before being renamed again to the California Golden Seals in 1970.[1] As a result of the expansion, the League reorganized its teams into two divisions, placing the Original Six teams into the Eastern Division and the expansion franchises into the Western Division. The NHL, furthermore, increased its regular season schedule from 70 to 74 games per team [2] with each team playing 50 games against opponents within its own division (10 against each divisional opponent) and 24 games with teams in the opposite division (4 games per opponent). A new format for the playoffs would also be introduced which would see the top four teams in each division qualify for the post-season with the first and third and the second and fourth place teams in each respective division pairing off in a divisional semi-final series. The winners of the latter would then compete for their respective division's championship, the West finalists competing for the newly created Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and the East finalists vying for the older Prince of Wales, and a berth in the Stanley Cup finals. All series would be best-of-seven contests.[2]

This season, the NHL also added a new player award called the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, named in honour of Bill Masterton who died on 15 January 1968 after sustaining an injury during a game (the first time an NHL player had ever died directly as a result of an on-ice injury).

The minimum age of players subject to amateur draft was changed to 20.[1]

There were a large number of holdouts this year. Three New York Ranger players, including Rod Gilbert, Arnie Brown and Orland Kurtenbach were fined $500 by their team. However, Ed Van Impe of the Flyers refused to sign his contract, followed by Earl Ingarfield and Al MacNeil also refused to sign, then Tim Horton of Toronto, Norm Ullman of Detroit and Kenny Wharram and Stan Mikita of Chicago. Led by Alan Eagleson, the new National Hockey League Players' Association was up and running.

Regular season[edit]

Highlights[edit]

On October 11, 1967, Jean Beliveau scored his 400th career goal on goaltender Hank Bassen of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Canadiens stumbled out of the gate. In their first west coast road trip, the Seals beat them 2–1 and the Kings beat them 4–2. The Habs lost quite a few more and were in last place by December. But by January, Jean Beliveau began to score and others were inspired also. The Habs got very hot, winning 12 consecutive games and then put together 10 more wins to take the East Division lead. Paced by Gump Worsley, who had 6 shutouts and a 1.98 goals against average and backstopped the team to the fewest goals allowed in the league, managed to keep first place thereafter. Worsley, for the first time, made the first all-star team.

On February 24, 1968, Rogatien Vachon of Montreal was the victim of four goals by Rod Gilbert, who set an NHL record with 16 shots on goal.

Ed Giacomin again led the league with 8 shutouts, and led the Rangers to second place, bolstered by Jean Ratelle's emergence into stardom.

Boston obtained Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield in a blockbuster trade with Chicago. This trade, as shown over time, heavily favored the Bruins. This, coinciding with the rise of Bobby Orr, led to an improvement in Boston's play, and the Bruins led the league in scoring behind Esposito's 84 points and made the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade. Though he missed action with a knee injury, Orr still won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman.

By contrast, the Chicago Black Hawks fell into a tailspin, and despite the scoring heroics of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, were hard pressed to make the playoffs. Mediocre team defense and goaltending was the culprit.

Roger Crozier felt the strain of goaltending and walked out on Detroit. He came back, but the Red Wings finished last anyway, despite a potent offense led by Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio and Norm Ullman. Even a late season trade of Ullman and Paul Henderson for Toronto star Frank Mahovlich and future Blues star Garry Unger was too little, too late. However, on March 24, 1968, Mahovlich became only the 11th player to score 300 goals as he scored both his 300th and 301st goals in a 5–3 win over the Boston Bruins.

Meanwhile, the defending Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs, still steady on defense in front of elder statesman Johnny Bower and backup Bruce Gamble, had numerous problems. Mahovlich spent time in hospital with a nervous breakdown, and the season was marred by contract disputes and tension with the high-strung coach, Punch Imlach. A late season charge failed to win a playoff berth.

In the West Division, the Philadelphia Flyers became the first regular season champion of the expansion clubs. While their offense was poor (career minor-league Leon Rochefort led the team with just 21 goals), ex-Bruins' goaltenders Bernie Parent and Doug Favell showed surprising form. Behind such hardnosed players as Gary Dornhoefer, Ed Van Impe, Larry Zeidel and Forbes Kennedy, the team showed the first glimmers of the "Broad Street Bullies" of future years.

The Los Angeles Kings were a team that writers predicted to finish last in the new West Division.[3] Owner Jack Kent Cooke had purchased the American Hockey League's Springfield Indians for $1 million to bolster the Kings roster. Surprisingly, the Kings finished second, just one point out of first. Bill Flett scored 26 goals, while Eddie Joyal scored 23 goals, adding 34 assists for 57 points and was the second leading scorer in the West Division. Among the expansion teams, the Kings had the best record against the established teams, going 10-12-2 vs. the Eastern Division.

Oakland, predicted to finish first, fell far short of the mark, amidst poor attendance. Defenceman Kent Douglas, a former Calder Trophy winner, played far below expected form and was traded to Detroit for Ted Hampson and defenceman Bert Marshall. The Seals finished last in the West Division.

Glenn Hall may have been deemed too old by the Black Hawks, which left him unprotected in the expansion draft, but not for the St. Louis Blues, who rode his five shutouts to a third place finish. A surprising benefit was their leading scorer, previously unheralded Red Berenson (with only 45 points in 185 previous NHL games) who exploded into stardom, more than doubling his career total in only 55 games.

By contrast, the Pittsburgh Penguins finished fifth, led by former Ranger star Andy Bathgate. Behind an elderly roster—nine of their top ten scorers and both of their goaltenders were over thirty—they could neither muster much offense nor defense.

The Minnesota North Stars had their bright moments despite finishing fourth in the West Division. On December 30, 1967, Bill Masterton and Wayne Connelly each scored goals in a 5–4 upset win over the Boston Bruins. On January 10, Connelly—who would finish the season with 35 goals to lead his team and the West Division—had a hat trick in a 6–4 win over the West Division power, the Philadelphia Flyers and Masterton was the architect on all three goals.

Tragedy struck the league on January 14, 1968. In a game at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Oakland Seals were in town to play the North Stars and Bill Masterton led a rush into the Oakland zone. Two defenceman, Larry Cahan and Ron Harris braced for the old fashioned sandwich check and as Masterton fired the puck into the Seals zone, the two hit Masterton hard but cleanly. Masterton flipped backwards and hit his head on the ice. He was removed to a Minneapolis hospital where doctors were prevented from doing surgery by the seriousness of the head injury. Early on the morning of January 15, 1968, Bill Masterton died. He was the first player to die as the direct result of injuries suffered in an NHL game, the only such incident in a senior game since 1907.

Final standings[edit]

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

East Division[4]
GP W L T GF GA DIFF Pts
1 Montreal Canadiens 74 42 22 10 236 167 +69 94
2 New York Rangers 74 39 23 12 226 183 +43 90
3 Boston Bruins 74 37 27 10 259 216 +43 84
4 Chicago Black Hawks 74 32 26 16 212 222 -10 −10 80
5 Toronto Maple Leafs 74 33 31 10 209 176 +33 76
6 Detroit Red Wings 74 27 35 12 245 257 -12 −12 66
West Division[4]
GP W L T GF GA DIFF Pts
1 Philadelphia Flyers 74 31 32 11 173 179 -6 −6 73
2 Los Angeles Kings 74 31 33 10 200 224 -24 −24 72
3 St. Louis Blues 74 27 31 16 177 191 -14 −14 70
4 Minnesota North Stars 74 27 32 15 191 226 -35 −35 69
5 Pittsburgh Penguins 74 27 34 13 195 216 -21 −21 67
6 Oakland Seals 74 15 42 17 153 219 -66 −66 47


Playoffs[edit]

Finals[edit]

see 1968 Stanley Cup Finals

Playoff bracket[edit]

Quarter-finals Semi-finals Stanley Cup Final
                 
1 Montreal Canadiens 4
3 Boston Bruins 0
1 Montreal Canadiens 4
East Division
4 Chicago Black Hawks 1
2 New York Rangers 2
4 Chicago Black Hawks 4
E1 Montreal Canadiens 4
W3 St. Louis Blues 0
1 Philadelphia Flyers 3
3 St. Louis Blues 4
3 St. Louis Blues 4
West Division
4 Minnesota North Stars 3
2 Los Angeles Kings 3
4 Minnesota North Stars 4

Awards[edit]

1967–68 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(East Division champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(West Division champion)
St. Louis Blues
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Claude Provost, Montreal Canadiens
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Derek Sanderson, Boston Bruins
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Glenn Hall, St. Louis Blues
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
Vezina Trophy:
(Best goaltending record, regular season)
Rogatien Vachon & Gump Worsley, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
Thomas F. Lockhart, Walter A. Brown, General John Kilpatrick

All-Star teams[edit]

First Team   Position   Second Team
Gump Worsley, Montreal Canadiens G Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins D J. C. Tremblay, Montreal Canadiens
Tim Horton, Toronto Maple Leafs D Jim Neilson, New York Rangers
Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks C Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings RW Rod Gilbert, New York Rangers
Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks LW Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins

Player statistics[edit]

Scoring leaders[edit]

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

Player Team GP G A PTS PIM
Stan Mikita Chicago Black Hawks 72 40 47 87 14
Phil Esposito Boston Bruins 74 35 49 84 21
Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings 74 39 43 82 53
Jean Ratelle New York Rangers 74 32 46 78 18
Rod Gilbert New York Rangers 74 29 48 77 12
Bobby Hull Chicago Black Hawks 71 44 31 75 39
Norm Ullman Toronto Maple Leafs 71 35 37 72 28
Alex Delvecchio Detroit Red Wings 74 22 48 70 14
Johnny Bucyk Boston Bruins 72 30 39 69 8
Kenny Wharram Chicago Black Hawks 74 27 42 69 18

Source: NHL.[5]

Leading goaltenders[edit]

Note: GP = Games played; Min - Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts

Player Team GP MIN GA GAA W L T SO
Gump Worsley Montreal Canadiens 40 2213 73 1.98 19 9 8 6
Johnny Bower Toronto Maple Leafs 43 2239 84 2.25 14 18 7 4
Doug Favell Philadelphia Flyers 37 2192 83 2.27 15 15 6 4
Bruce Gamble Toronto Maple Leafs 41 2204 85 2.32 19 13 3 5
Eddie Giacomin New York Rangers 66 3940 160 2.44 36 20 10 8
Glenn Hall St. Louis Blues 49 2858 118 2.48 19 21 9 5
Rogie Vachon Montreal Canadiens 39 2227 92 2.48 23 13 2 4
Bernie Parent Philadelphia Flyers 38 2248 93 2.48 16 17 5 4
Seth Martin St. Louis Blues 30 1552 67 2.59 8 10 7 1
Denis DeJordy Chicago Black Hawks 50 2838 128 2.71 23 15 11 4

Other statistics[edit]

The NHL began tracking the plus-minus statistic this season. It measures the difference between the number of goals scored by a player's team while a player is on the ice against the number of goals scored by the opposing team. Power play goals do not count toward the statistic; it does include short-handed goals scored by the opposing team during power plays.

Debuts[edit]

The following is a list of notable players who played their first NHL game in 1967–68 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last games[edit]

The following is a list of notable players who played their last game in the NHL in 1967–68 (listed with their last team):

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • 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. 
  • McFarlane, Brian (1973). The Story of the National Hockey League. New York, NY: Pagurian Press. ISBN 0-684-13424-1. 
Notes
  1. ^ a b NHL Guide & Record Book 2005. p. 9. 
  2. ^ a b HickokSports.com - History - NHL 1967–68 Season
  3. ^ Brian McFarlane, 50 Years of Hockey, p. 140–143, Greywood Publishing Ltd, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  4. ^ a b "1967–1968 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League. 
  5. ^ Dinger 2011, p. 150.

External links[edit]