1955–56 NHL season
|1955–56 NHL season|
|League||National Hockey League|
|Duration||October 6, 1955 – April 10, 1956|
|Number of games||70|
|Number of teams||6|
|Season champion||Montreal Canadiens|
|Season MVP||Jean Beliveau (Montreal Canadiens)|
|Top scorer||Jean Beliveau (Montreal Canadiens)|
|Runners-up||Detroit Red Wings|
The 1955–56 NHL season was the 39th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Montreal Canadiens were the Stanley Cup champions as they beat the Detroit Red Wings four games to one in the best-of-seven final series.
At a governors' meeting in December, a discussion took place concerning the uniforms worn by officials. It was contended that the present orange and black uniforms were confusing to players and fans, particularly when red uniforms are worn by either of the participating teams. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the existing uniforms showed up black on television. It was unanimously agreed that officials' uniforms should be changed to black and white vertical stripes. The black and white uniforms were first worn on December 29, 1955.
With Montreal frequently racking up two or three goals on any one power play, NHL President Clarence Campbell said he'd like the penalty rule revised to a penalized player returning to the ice when a power play goal is scored on a minor penalty. The Canadiens were the lone club to vote against the new legislation.
The streak of seven straight seasons at the top of the NHL held by the Detroit Red Wings' dynasty came to an end as the Montreal Canadiens were tops. The Canadiens set a new record for wins in a season with 45. The Canadiens had a new coach, their one-time great former All-Star left-winger, Hector "Toe" Blake.
Dick Irvin, formerly the coach in Montreal, whom Habs' GM Frank Selke Sr. found a little truculent, took over as coach in Chicago, but could not get them out of the cellar, though they did improve. It was sort of a homecoming for Irvin as he started his coaching career with Chicago in 1930.
When the Hawks went to the Montreal Forum on October 22, Irvin was presented with a set of silver flatware by William Northey, representing the Canadian Arena Company. In the game itself, rookie Henri Richard scored two goals as Montreal shut out Chicago 6–0.
On November 5, Jean Beliveau scored three goals in 44 seconds as Montreal beat Boston 4–3. The record for fastest hat trick still was held by Bill Mosienko with three goals in 21 seconds.
On January 11, a crowd of 15,570 delighted fans at Madison Square Garden watched the Rangers trounce the Canadiens 6–1. Pete Conacher was a star for the Rangers with two goals. Lou Fontinato and Maurice Richard had a gala fight and Fontinato knocked out Richard with a punch that required several stitches above Richard's eye.
Montreal routed the Rangers 9–4 on February 18 as Beliveau had the hat trick and Richard two. The Rocket was incensed when referee Louis Maschio gave his brother a misconduct penalty and his teammates had to cool him off.
Beliveau set a record for goals by a center when he scored his 45th goal on March 15. Maurice Richard was hurt in this game when he fell over Hawk defenceman Pierre Pilote's skate and went headlong into the goal. He required stitches and was taken to hospital for X-rays. The Rocket was back in the lineup on St. Patrick's Day as the Canadiens trounced the Rangers 7–2 and Richard had the hat trick.
Rookie Glenn Hall had a fabulous year with 12 shutouts and a 2.11 goals against average for the ever-powerful Detroit Red Wings. He received the Calder Memorial Trophy over Henri "Pocket Rocket" Richard.
|2||Detroit Red Wings||70||30||24||16||183||148||+35||76|
|3||New York Rangers||70||32||28||10||204||203||+1||74|
|4||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||24||33||13||153||181||−28||61|
|6||Chicago Black Hawks||70||19||39||12||155||216||−61||50|
|Semi-finals||Stanley Cup Final|
|3||New York Rangers||1|
|2||Detroit Red Wings||1|
|2||Detroit Red Wings||4|
|4||Toronto Maple Leafs||1|
|Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Regular season champion)
|Art Ross Trophy:
|Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens|
|Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
|Glenn Hall, Detroit Red Wings|
(Most valuable player)
|Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy:
|Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
|Earl Reibel, Detroit Red Wings|
(Goaltender of team with the best goals-against average)
|Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens|
Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|Jean Beliveau||Montreal Canadiens||70||47||41||88||143|
|Gordie Howe||Detroit Red Wings||70||38||41||79||100|
|Maurice Richard||Montreal Canadiens||70||38||33||71||89|
|Bert Olmstead||Montreal Canadiens||70||14||56||70||94|
|Tod Sloan||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||37||29||66||100|
|Andy Bathgate||New York Rangers||70||19||47||66||59|
|Bernie Geoffrion||Montreal Canadiens||59||29||33||62||66|
|Earl Reibel||Detroit Red Wings||68||17||39||56||10|
|Alex Delvecchio||Detroit Red Wings||70||25||36||51||24|
|Dave Creighton||New York Rangers||70||20||31||51||43|
Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts
|Jacques Plante||Montreal Canadiens||64||3840||119||1.86||42||12||10||7|
|Glenn Hall||Detroit Red Wings||70||4200||147||2.10||30||24||16||12|
|Terry Sawchuk||Boston Bruins||68||4080||177||2.60||22||33||13||9|
|Harry Lumley||Toronto Maple Leafs||59||3527||159||2.70||21||28||10||3|
|Lorne Worsley||New York Rangers||70||4200||199||2.84||32||28||10||4|
|Al Rollins||Chicago Black Hawks||58||3480||172||2.97||17||30||11||3|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1955–56 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
- Pierre Pilote, Chicago Black Hawks
- Norm Ullman, Detroit Red Wings
- Henri Richard, Montreal Canadiens
- Claude Provost, Montreal Canadiens
- Bob Turner, Montreal Canadiens
- Bronco Horvath, New York Rangers
- Andy Hebenton, New York Rangers
- Jean-Guy Gendron, New York Rangers
- Billy Harris, Toronto Maple Leafs
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1955–56 (listed with their last team):
- Bill Quackenbush, Boston Bruins
- Ed Sandford, Chicago Black Hawks
- Bob Goldham, Detroit Red Wings
- Emile "Butch" Bouchard, Montreal Canadiens
- Don Raleigh, New York Rangers
- Joe Klukay, Toronto Maple Leafs
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- 9th National Hockey League All-Star Game
- National Hockey League All-Star Game
- Ice hockey at the 1956 Winter Olympics
- 1955 in sports
- 1956 in sports
- Coleman, Charles L. (1976), Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol III, Sherbrooke, QC: Progressive Publications
- 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. 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.
- Duplacey, James (2008), Hockey’s Book of Firsts, North Dighton, MA: JG Press, ISBN 978-1-57215-037-9
- 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 (1969), 50 Years Of Hockey, Winnipeg, MAN: Greywood Publishing, ISBN B000GW45S0
- McFarlane, Brian (1973). The Story of the National Hockey League. New York, NY: Pagurian Press. ISBN 0-684-13424-1.
- "1955–1956 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League.
- Dinger 2011, p. 149.