1972–73 NHL season

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1972–73 NHL season
League National Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Duration October 7, 1972 – May 10, 1973
Number of games 78
Number of teams 16
Top draft pick Billy Harris
Picked by New York Islanders
Regular season
Season champions Montreal Canadiens
Season MVP Bobby Clarke (Flyers)
Top scorer Phil Esposito (Bruins)
Playoffs MVP Yvan Cournoyer (Canadiens)
Stanley Cup
Champions Montreal Canadiens
  Runners-up Chicago Black Hawks
NHL seasons

The 1972–73 NHL season was the 56th season of the National Hockey League. Sixteen teams each played 78 games. Two new teams, the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Flames, made their debuts. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup by beating the Chicago Black Hawks four games to two in the Stanley Cup Final.


Prior to the start of the season, the 1972 Summit Series took place. It was the first ever meeting between Soviet Union and NHL calibre Canadian ice hockey players. Canada expected to easily beat the Soviets, but were shocked to find themselves with a losing record of one win, two losses, and a tie after four games in Canada. In game four, which Canada lost 5–3, Vancouver fans echoed the rest of Canada's thoughts of Team Canada's poor performance by booing them off the ice. The final four games were played in the Soviet Union. Canada lost game five, but won the last three for a final record of four wins, three losses, and a tie.

For the first time since the collapse of the Western Hockey League in 1926, the National Hockey League had serious competition. A new professional hockey league, the World Hockey Association, made its season debut with 12 new teams, half of which were based in cities with existing NHL teams. Unlike the Western Hockey League, though, the new World Hockey Association would not challenge for the Stanley Cup. In response to the new league, the NHL hastily added two new teams in an unplanned expansion, the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames, in an attempt to exclude the WHA from newly constructed arenas in those markets. In February 1972, the Miami Screaming Eagles of the WHA signed Bernie Parent to a contract,[1] and when Bobby Hull was signed on June 27, 1972, to play with the Winnipeg Jets, the Chicago Black Hawks sued, claiming a violation of the reserve clause in NHL contracts. Others soon followed Hull to the WHA, including, J. C. Tremblay, Ted Green, Gerry Cheevers and Johnny McKenzie. In the expansion draft, the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames made their picks and eleven Islander players skipped off to the WHA. The California Golden Seals, chafing under the unorthodox ownership of the unpopular Charlie Finley, were also a victim of the WHA, losing eight key players.

Regular season[edit]

The Montreal Canadiens took over first place in the East Division and the league from the Boston Bruins while for the third consecutive season the Chicago Black Hawks dominated the West Division.

Final standings[edit]

East Division[2]
1 Montreal Canadiens 78 52 10 16 329 184 +145 120
2 Boston Bruins 78 51 22 5 330 235 +95 107
3 New York Rangers 78 47 23 8 297 208 +89 102
4 Buffalo Sabres 78 37 27 14 257 219 +38 88
5 Detroit Red Wings 78 37 29 12 265 243 +22 86
6 Toronto Maple Leafs 78 27 41 10 247 279 −32 64
7 Vancouver Canucks 78 22 47 9 233 339 −106 53
8 New York Islanders 78 12 60 6 170 347 −177 30
West Division[2]
1 Chicago Black Hawks 78 42 27 9 284 225 +59 93
2 Philadelphia Flyers 78 37 30 11 296 256 +40 85
3 Minnesota North Stars 78 37 30 11 254 230 +24 85
4 St. Louis Blues 78 32 34 12 233 251 −18 76
5 Pittsburgh Penguins 78 32 37 9 257 265 −8 73
6 Los Angeles Kings 78 31 36 11 232 245 −13 73
7 Atlanta Flames 78 25 38 15 191 239 −48 65
8 California Golden Seals 78 16 46 16 213 323 −110 48


No teams in the playoffs swept their opponents, the last time this would happen until 1991. In addition, the Chicago Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup finals without a captain, the last time this would happen until 2014.

Playoff bracket[edit]

Quarter-finals Semi-finals Stanley Cup Final
E1 Montreal Canadiens 4
E4 Buffalo Sabres 2
E1 Montreal Canadiens 4
W2 Philadelphia Flyers 1
W2 Philadelphia Flyers 4
W3 Minnesota North Stars 2
E1 Montreal Canadiens 4
W1 Chicago Black Hawks 2
W1 Chicago Black Hawks 4
W4 St. Louis Blues 1
W1 Chicago Black Hawks 4
E3 New York Rangers 1
E2 Boston Bruins 1
E3 New York Rangers 4


(E1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (E4) Buffalo Sabres[edit]

The Montreal Canadiens finished first in the East Division with 120 points. The Buffalo Sabres finished fourth with 88 points. This was the Buffalo Sabres' first playoff series. In this year's regular season series, there were two wins for Montreal, one win for Buffalo and two ties.

Montreal won series 4–2

(E2) Boston Bruins vs. (E3) New York Rangers[edit]

The Boston Bruins finished second in the East Division with 107 points. The New York Rangers finished third in the East Division with 102 points. This was the ninth playoff series between these two teams with Boston winning six of the eight previous series. Their most recent meeting came in the previous series Stanley Cup Finals which Boston won in 6 games. The teams split this year's 6-game regular season series.

New York won series 4–1

(W1) Chicago Black Hawks vs. (W4) St. Louis Blues[edit]

The Chicago Black Hawks finished first in the West Division with 93 points. The St. Louis Blues finished fourth in the West Division with 76 points. This was the first playoff series between these two teams. The teams split this year's six-game regular season series.

Chicago won series 4–1

(W2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (W3) Minnesota North Stars[edit]

The Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota North Stars tied for second in the West Division, each with 85 points. With identical records of 37-30-11, Philadelphia won the tie breaker of goals for - 256 to Minnesota's 230, thus gaining home ice advantage. This was the first playoff series between these two teams. Philadelphia won three of the five games in this year's regular season series.

Philadelphia won series 4–2


(E1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (W3) Philadelphia Flyers[edit]

This was the first playoff series between these two teams. In this year's regular season series, there was one tie and the teams split the remaining four games.

Montreal won series 4–1

(W1) Chicago Black Hawks vs. (E3) New York Rangers[edit]

This was the fifth playoff series between these two teams with Chicago winning three of the four previous series. Their most recent series came in the previous year's semifinals which New York won in 4 games. In this year's regular season series, there was one tie and the teams split the remaining four games.

Chicago won series 4–1


This was a rematch of the 1971 Stanley Cup Finals which Montreal won in 7 games. This was the sixteenth series between these two teams with Montreal winning ten of the fifteen previous series. The 1971 series was the most recent meeting. Chicago won three of the five games in this year's regular season series.

Montreal won series 4–2


1973 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(East Division champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(West Division champion)
Chicago Black Hawks
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Lowell MacDonald, Pittsburgh Penguins
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Steve Vickers, New York Rangers
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo Sabres
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender(s) of team with best goaltending record)
Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
Walter L. Bush, Jr.

All-Star teams[edit]

First team   Position   Second team
Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens G Tony Esposito, Chicago Black Hawks
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins D Brad Park, New York Rangers
Guy Lapointe, Montreal Canadiens D Bill White, Chicago Black Hawks
Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins C Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers
Mickey Redmond, Detroit Red Wings RW Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens
Frank Mahovlich, Montreal Canadiens LW Dennis Hull, Chicago Black Hawks

Player statistics[edit]

Scoring leaders[edit]

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Phil Esposito Boston Bruins 78 55 75 130 87
Bobby Clarke Philadelphia Flyers 78 37 67 104 80
Bobby Orr Boston Bruins 63 29 72 101 99
Rick MacLeish Philadelphia Flyers 78 50 50 100 69
Jacques Lemaire Montreal Canadiens 77 44 51 95 16
Jean Ratelle New York Rangers 78 41 53 94 12
Mickey Redmond Detroit Red Wings 76 52 41 93 24
Johnny Bucyk Boston Bruins 78 40 53 93 12
Frank Mahovlich Montreal Canadiens 78 38 55 93 51
Jim Pappin Chicago Black Hawks 76 41 51 92 82

Source: NHL.[3]

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
Ken Dryden Montreal Canadiens 54 3165 119 2.26 33 7 13 6
Gilles Villemure New York Rangers 34 2040 78 2.29 20 12 2 3
Tony Esposito Chicago Black Hawks 56 3340 140 2.51 32 17 7 4
Roy Edwards Detroit Red Wings 52 3012 132 2.63 27 17 7 6
Dave Dryden Buffalo Sabres 37 2018 89 2.65 14 13 7 3
Roger Crozier Buffalo Sabres 49 2633 121 2.76 23 13 7 3
Doug Favell Philadelphia Flyers 44 2419 114 2.83 20 15 4 3
Rogie Vachon L.A. Kings 53 3120 148 2.85 22 20 10 4
Cesare Maniago Minnesota North Stars 47 2736 132 2.89 21 18 6 5
Jim Rutherford Pittsburgh Penguins 49 2660 129 2.91 20 22 5 3

Other statistics[edit]





The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1972–73 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last games[edit]

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1972–73 (listed with their last team):

NOTE: Plante, Stapleton, Backstrom, Howell and Balon would finish their major professional careers in the World Hockey Association.

See also[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. 
  1. ^ Dunell, Milt (February 22, 1972). "Hockey's first 'Super Series' will be played in the courtrooms". Montreal Gazette. page 31. Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "1972–1973 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League. 
  3. ^ Dinger 2011, p. 150.

External links[edit]