Gordie Howe of the Red Wings became the first player in NHL history to achieve the career mark of 1000 regular-season points. It would be seven more seasons before the Montreal Canadiens' Jean Béliveau would match the feat.
On September 15, 1960, Maurice "Rocket" Richard announced his retirement from hockey. During his career, he had led all scorers with a record 544 goals plus 82 for the playoffs. Despite the league expanding the number of games in a season to 70 games from 50 since Richard's famous 50 goals in 50 games, Richard remained the only player to score 50 goals in a season, until this season.
On December 1, the Canadiens, who had traded André Pronovost to Boston for Jean-Guy Gendron, defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6–3 at the Montreal Forum. Gendron had a goal, but the main feature was the 21 penalties referee Frank Udvari had to call, including several majors in the third period. Henri Richard took on Frank Mahovlich, Dickie Moore squared off with Bob Pulford, and Marcel Bonin scrapped with Bobby Baun. Toronto general manager and head coach George "Punch" Imlach was in a bad mood following the game and said to the press among other things that Udvari and linesmen Loring Doolittle and George Hayes should have been picked as the three stars for the help they gave to Montreal. Imlach's comments were brought to the attention of NHL president Clarence Campbell, who fined the Leafs bench boss $200.
In the new year, Stan Mikita helped to spark Chicago. He scored two goals in a 3–2 win over the Rangers on January 4 and scored the winner when the Black Hawks beat Boston 4–3 the following night.
Chicago defeated the Rangers 4–3 on March 8. New York goalie Gump Worsley pulled a hamstring muscle and Joe Shaefer replaced him with the score 1–1. The next night, the Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs as Bernie Geoffrion potted a hat trick in a 6–1 pasting by the Canadiens.
Toronto's Johnny Bower, who appeared on his way to winning the Vezina Trophy, strained a leg muscle and would have to take a rest. Cesare Maniago played in goal for the Leafs on March 16 and lost 5–2. It looked like two players, Toronto's Frank Mahovlich and Montreal's Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, were going to hit 50 goals, but Mahovlich ended up slumping near the end of the season and missed 50 by two goals. Geoffrion scored his 50th goal that night and got a wild ovation. He also added 45 assists and led the league in scoring.
Toronto played a 2–2 tie with the Rangers in their final game of the season and Bobby Baun was a victim of his own hard hitting. Camille Henry of the Rangers ran into Baun and Henry's skate cut Baun in the neck. Baun returned for the third period, but after the game, while boarding the team bus, he began to gasp desperately. He groped for attention and waved his arms, and his teammates finally realized he was in trouble and rushed him to the hospital where an emergency operation was performed to permit breathing. Baun missed some action in the playoffs as the result of the injury.
For the Montreal Canadiens, two streaks came to an end. The Canadiens' streak of ten consecutive Finals appearances and five consecutive Finals wins came to an end with a defeat to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks in the first round. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the other semi-final to set up an all-American final between Chicago and Detroit.
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. ISBN0-7853-9624-1.
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. ISBN0-684-13424-1.