1996–97 NHL season
|League||National Hockey League|
|Duration||October 4, 1996 – June 7, 1997|
|Number of games||82|
|Number of teams||26|
|Presidents' Trophy||Colorado Avalanche|
|Season MVP||Dominik Hasek (Buffalo)|
|Top scorer||Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh)|
|Eastern champions||Philadelphia Flyers|
|Eastern runners-up||New York Rangers|
|Western champions||Detroit Red Wings|
|Western runners-up||Colorado Avalanche|
|Playoffs MVP||Mike Vernon (Detroit)|
|Stanley Cup champions||Detroit Red Wings|
The 1996–97 NHL season was the 80th regular season of the National Hockey League. The Stanley Cup winners were the Detroit Red Wings, who swept the Philadelphia Flyers in four games and won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 42 years.
The regular season saw a decline in scoring and rise in the number of shutouts, to an all-time record of 127. This trend continued into the playoffs, during which an all-time record of 18 shutouts were recorded. Only two players, Mario Lemieux and Teemu Selanne, reached the 100-point plateau during the regular season (compared with 12 who reached the plateau in 1995-96). Many factors, including fewer power-plays, more calls of the skate-in-the-crease rule, fewer shots on goal, and more injuries to star players than the season before contributed to the reduction in scoring and skyrocketing in shutouts. Paradoxically, teams actually averaged more even-strength goals scored (174) than in 1995-96 (172).
This was the first time in 30 years - and in the entire expansion era - that the Boston Bruins had either a losing record or missed the playoffs, ending a still-unsurpassed North American professional sports streak of 29 straight seasons in the playoffs.
League business 
On March 25, 1997, the Hartford Whalers announced that they would move from Connecticut following the 1996–97 season. Starting in the 1997–98 NHL season, they would be known as the Carolina Hurricanes.
The 1996–97 season marked the retirement of Craig MacTavish, the last active NHL player who played without a protective helmet, and gritty defenceman Brad McCrimmon. MacTavish had been grandfathered under the old rule requiring them to be worn because he had signed a pro contract before the rule was established on 1 June, 1979. The first player to ever wear a helmet was George Owen in the 1928–29 NHL season.
Regular season 
The Boston Bruins recorded the league's worst record, missing the playoffs for the first time in thirty seasons and ending the longest consecutive playoff streak ever recorded in the history of North American professional sport.
On the 16th of November 1996, the eight-sided scoreboard at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo crashed to the ice during a maintenance check. The accident occurred only 90 minutes after the visiting Boston Bruins players had conducted their morning practice. No-one was injured, but the game between the Sabres and the Bruins was cancelled.
Final standings 
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF= Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
Stanley Cup Final 
|Detroit vs. Philadelphia|
Detroit wins series 4–0 and Stanley Cup
Playoff bracket 
|Conference Quarterfinals||Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||Stanley Cup Final|
|5||NY Rangers||4||5||NY Rangers||4||
|(Pairings are re-seeded after the first round.)|
|6||St. Louis||2||Western Conference|
- During the first three rounds home ice is determined by seeding number, not position on the bracket. In the Finals the team with the better regular season record has home ice.
The NHL Awards presentation took place on June 19, 1997.
All-Star teams 
Player statistics 
Scoring leaders 
Note: GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points
Leading goaltenders 
|Martin Brodeur||New Jersey||67||3838||120||10||1.88|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1996–97 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
- Dwayne Roloson, Calgary Flames
- Marc Denis, Colorado Avalanche
- Roman Turek, Dallas Stars
- Tomas Holmstrom, Detroit Red Wings
- Mike Knuble, Detroit Red Wings
- Mike Grier, Edmonton Oilers
- Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Hartford Whalers
- Tomas Vokoun, Montreal Canadiens
- Jay Pandolfo, New Jersey Devils
- Bryan Berard, New York Islanders
- Todd Bertuzzi, New York Islanders
- Wade Redden, Ottawa Senators
- Janne Niinimaa, Philadelphia Flyers
- Vaclav Prospal, Philadelphia Flyers
- Dainius Zubrus, Philadelphia Flyers
- Patrick Lalime, Pittsburgh Penguins
Last games 
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1996–97 (listed with their last team):
- Tim Cheveldae, Boston Bruins
- Charlie Huddy, Buffalo Sabres
- Denis Savard, Chicago Blackhawks
- Sergei Makarov, Dallas Stars
- Neal Broten, Dallas Stars
- Mike Ramsey, Detroit Red Wings
- Vladimir Konstantinov, Detroit Red Wings
- Dale Hawerchuk, Philadelphia Flyers
- Brad McCrimmon, Phoenix Coyotes
- Dan Quinn, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Joe Mullen, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Tim Hunter, San Jose Sharks
- Craig MacTavish, St. Louis Blues (The last helmetless player)
- Gary Leeman, St. Louis Blues
- Jon Casey, St. Louis Blues
- Jay Wells, Tampa Bay Lightning
- Don Beaupre, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Nick Kypreos, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Mike Ridley, Vancouver Canucks
- Dave McLlwain, New York Islanders
- Roman Oksiuta, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Todd Elik, Boston Bruins
- Anatoli Semenov, Buffalo Sabres
- Randy Wood, New York Islanders
- Yuri Khmylev, St. Louis Blues
- Pat Flatley, New York Rangers
- Dave Hannan, Ottawa Senators
- Steven Finn, Los Angeles Kings
- Todd Ewen, San Jose Sharks
- Adam Creighton, Chicago Blackhawks
- Shane Churla, New York Rangers
- Dave Archibald, New York Islanders
- Brian Glynn, Hartford Whalers
- Mike Hudson, Phoenix Coyotes
- Brent Hughes, New York Islanders
- Mike Lalor, Dallas Stars
- Gary Leeman, St. Louis Blues
- Sergio Momesso, St. Louis Blues
Trading deadline 
- Trading Deadline: March 18, 1997 
- March 18, 1997: G Pat Jablonski traded from Montreal to Phoenix for D Steve Cheredaryk.
- March 18, 1997: RW Roman Oksiuta traded from Anaheim to Pittsburgh for C Richard Park.
- March 18, 1997: LW Josef Beranek traded from Vancouver to Pittsburgh for future considerations.
- March 18, 1997: D Marc Hussey traded from Calgary to Chicago for LW Ravil Gusmanov.
- March 18, 1997: C Ed Olczyk traded from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh for RW Glen Murray.
- March 18, 1997: LW Jon Battaglia and Anaheim’s fourth round pick in 1998 Entry Draft traded from Anaheim to Hartford for C Mark Janssens.
- March 18, 1997: RW Mike Prokopec traded from Chicago to Ottawa for RW Denis Chasse, D Kevin Bolibruck and Ottawa’s sixth round pick in 1998 Entry Draft.
- March 18, 1997: D Larry Murphy traded from Toronto to Detroit for future considerations.
- March 18, 1997: LW Derek King traded from NY Islanders to Hartford for Hartford’s fifth round pick in 1997 Entry Draft.
- March 18, 1997: D Frantisek Kucera traded from Vancouver to Philadelphia for future considerations.
- March 18, 1997: D Jamie Huscroft traded from Calgary to Tampa Bay for G Tyler Moss.
- March 18, 1997: RW Kelly Chase traded from Hartford to Toronto for Toronto’s eighth round pick in 1998 Entry Draft.
- March 18, 1997: D Dave Manson traded from Phoenix to Montreal for RW Chris Murray and D Murray Baron.
- March 18, 1997: RW Chris Murray traded from Phoenix to Hartford to D Gerald Diduck.
- March 18, 1997: C Robert Reichel traded from Calgary to NY Islanders for LW Marty McInnis, G Tyrone Garner and Calgary’s sixth round pick in 1997 Entry Draft (previously acquired by NY Islanders).
- March 18, 1997: D Jeff Norton traded from Edmonton to Tampa Bay for D Drew Bannister and the earlier of Tampa Bay or Anaheim’s sixth round draft pick in 1997 Entry Draft (Anaheim pick previously acquired by Tampa Bay).
- March 18, 1997: LW Miroslav Satan traded from Edmonton to Buffalo for LW Barrie Moore and D Craig Millar.
- March 18, 1997: C Kirk Muller traded from Toronto to Florida for RW Jason Podollan.
Hat Tricks 
See also 
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- 1996 NHL Entry Draft
- 47th National Hockey League All-Star Game
- National Hockey League All-Star Game
- NHL All-Rookie Team
- 1996 World Cup of Hockey
- 1996 in sports
- 1997 in sports
- 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.
- Weekes, Don (2003). The Best and Worst of Hockey's Firsts: The Unofficial Guide. Canada: Greystone Books. p. 240. ISBN 9781550548600.
- Dinger 2011, p. 154.
- NHL trade deadline: Deals since 1980 | Habs Inside/Out