1985–86 Hartford Whalers season

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1985–86 Hartford Whalers
Division4th Adams
Conference7th Wales
1985–86 record40-36-4
Goals for332
Goals against302
Team information
General ManagerEmile Francis
CoachJack Evans
CaptainRon Francis
ArenaHartford Civic Center
Team leaders
GoalsSylvain Turgeon (45)
AssistsRon Francis (53)
PointsSylvain Turgeon (79)
Penalties in minutesTorrie Robertson (358)
Plus/minusJoel Quenneville (+18)
WinsKay Whitmore (14)
Goals against averageFrank Pietrangelo (2.35)

The 1985–86 Hartford Whalers season saw the Whalers finish in fourth place in the Adams Division with a record of 40 wins, 36 losses, and 4 ties for 84 points. They beat the Quebec Nordiques in the Adams Division Semifinals in three games, for their first and only playoff series victory in franchise history. They lost the Adams Division Finals in seven games to the Montreal Canadiens. Because the Whalers made it to the Adams Division Finals, the 1985-86 season is considered by many to be the most successful in Whalers history.


At the 1985 NHL Entry Draft held at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, the Hartford Whalers selected defenseman Dana Murzyn from the Calgary Wranglers of the WHL with their first round, fifth overall draft pick. In 72 games with the Wranglers, Murzyn scored 32 goals, 92 points and accumulated 233 penalty minutes during the 1984-85 season. In eight playoff games, Murzyn had a goal and 12 points. Some other notable picks by the Whalers included goaltender Kay Whitmore from the Peterborough Petes in the second round, and right winger Shane Churla from the Medicine Hat Tigers in the sixth round.

On September 19, the Whalers signed free agent center John Newberry. In 16 games with the Montreal Canadiens during the 1984-85 season, Newberry had four assists. With the Sherbrooke Canadiens of the AHL, Newberry scored 23 goals and 63 points in 58 games.

Hartford acquired defenseman Tim Bothwell in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on October 4, as the Whalers sent cash to the Blues to complete the trade. Bothwell scored four goals and 26 points in 79 with the Blues during the 1984-85 season. He also had a +27 rating, and over the past two seasons, Bothwell was a +49.

Three days later, on October 7, Hartford traded defenseman Chris Kotsopoulos to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for left winger Stew Gavin. Gavin scored 12 goals and 25 points in 73 games with Toronto in 1984-85. In 268 career games to date, Gavin scored 34 goals and 82 points since beginning his career in the 1980-81 season.

NHL Draft[edit]

Round # Player Position Nationality College/junior/club team (League)
1 5 Dana Murzyn Defense  Canada Calgary Wranglers (WHL)
2 26 Kay Whitmore Goaltender  Canada Peterborough Petes (OHL)
4 68 Gary Callaghan Center  Canada Belleville Bulls (OHL)
6 110 Shane Churla Right Wing  Canada Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
7 131 Chris Brant Left Wing  Canada Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
8 152 Brian Puhalski Left Wing  Canada Notre Dame Hounds (SJHL)
9 173 Greg Dornbach Center  United States Miami University (CCHA)
10 194 Paul Tory Right Wing  Canada University of Illinois at Chicago (CCHA)
11 215 Jerry Pawloski Defense  United States Harvard University (ECAC)
12 236 Bruce Hill Left Wing  Canada University of Denver (WCHA)


Regular season[edit]


Hartford began the 1985-86 season on the road against the Buffalo Sabres on October 10. The Whalers, led by two goals by Kevin Dineen, overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Sabres 5-4. Two nights later, on October 12, the Whalers hosted the New York Rangers for their home opener, and were led by two goals by Ron Francis and Ray Ferraro, as well as 33 saves by Mike Liut, as Hartford defeated New York 8-2 in front of 15,142 fans at the Civic Center.

The Whalers dropped their next game to the Quebec Nordiques, however, they would win their following two games, including a wild 11-6 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, to open the season 4-1-0. Hartford then began a four game road trip, in which they dropped their first three games before salvaging a victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, bringing their record to 5-4-0.

In their final game of the month, Hartford defeated the Quebec Nordiques on home ice, finishing October with a 6-4-0 record, as they earned 12 points. The Whalers sat in third place in the Adams Division, five points behind the first place Quebec Nordiques.


Hartford got off to a tough start in November, losing their first three games, including blowout losses of 8-1 to the Los Angeles Kings and 8-3 to the Montreal Canadiens. The Whalers ended their losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Quebec Nordiques as they stormed back from a 3-0 third period deficit to take the victory.

The Whalers won their next game against the Minnesota North Stars, however, this followed by another three game losing skid, dropping the Whalers to a record of 8-10-0 and falling into last place in the Adams Division. On November 21, the Whalers acquired defenseman Dave Babych from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for right winger Ray Neufeld. Babych had four goals and 16 points in 19 games with the Jets at the time of the trade. A high-scoring defenseman, Babych had recorded at least 60 points in three of his four previous seasons, including 74 points in 79 games with Winnipeg in 1982-83.

The trade sparked the Whalers to a huge 8-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on November 23, as Ron Francis led the way with a hat trick. In their next game, the Whalers shutout the Los Angeles Kings 9-0, as Mike Liut earned the shutout with 30 saves.

The Whalers won their third game in row on November 29, defeating the Vancouver Canucks 5-4, however, the Edmonton Oilers snapped the Whalers winning streak the next night, as they defeated Hartford 8-5.

Hartford struggled to a 5-7-0 record in November, dropping their overall record to 11-11-0 through their first 22 games. The Whalers were in last place in the Adams Division, three points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the final playoff spot.


The Whalers opened December the same way they closed November, as Hartford lost by a score of 8-5, this time to the Calgary Flames, on December 4. Two days later, Hartford acquired center Doug Jarvis from the Washington Capitals for left winger Jörgen Pettersson. Jarvis, who began his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1975-76 season, had never missed a game in his career, as he had played in 825 games in a row at the time of the trade. Jarvis was a four time Stanley Cup champion with the Canadiens, winning the Cup in 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979. He was traded to the Washington Capitals prior to the 1982-83 season, and won the Selke Trophy in 1984. Jarvis had a goal and three points in 25 games with Washington to begin the 1985-86 season.

In their next six games after the trade, the Whalers posted a record of 4-1-1 to climb over the .500 mark with an overall record of 15-13-1, pulling the Whalers within one point of the Buffalo Sabres for the fourth and final playoff position in the Adams Division.

Hartford dropped two of their final three games before Christmas, however, the Whalers rebounded by winning their first three games after the Christmas break, before dropping their final game of December.

The Whalers posted a record of 8-5-1 record during December, bringing their overall record to 19-16-1 through 36 games. The Whalers were tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Adams Division. They were also only three points behind the first place Montreal Canadiens, as three points separated first and last place in the division.


Hartford dropped their first two games on January, losing to the Quebec Nordiques and Edmonton Oilers, bringing their overall losing streak to three games. The Whalers ended their losing skid with a 9-1 win over the Calgary Flames, as Dean Evason and Kevin Dineen each scored hat tricks in the victory. Hartford won their next game against the Vancouver Canucks, before dropping two in a row.

On January 17, the Whalers acquired Wayne Babych, the older brother of Whalers defenseman Dave Babych, from the Quebec Nordiques, in exchange for Greg Malone. Babych, who was acquired by Quebec from the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the season, had six goals and 11 points in 15 games with the Nordiques. His best season came in 1980-81, while as a member of the St. Louis Blues, Babych scored 54 goals and 96 points in 78 games. During that season, he led the NHL with 40 even strength goals.

The trade marked the beginning of a five game winning streak, as that evening, the Whalers defeated the Quebec Nordiques 11-6. On January 21, the Whalers shutout the New York Rangers 5-0, as Steve Weeks stopped all 19 shots he faced.

The Whalers winning streak came to an end on January 27, as the Boston Bruins defeated Hartford 6-3. Two nights later, in the Whalers final game of the month, the club lost to the Boston Bruins 5-4 in overtime.

Hartford earned a record of 7-6-0 during January, which was their second consecutive winning month of the season. Their overall record at the end of January was 26-22-1, as the club had 53 points and sat in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Adams Division, two points ahead of the fifth place Buffalo Sabres.


The Whalers continued their winless skid into February, as Hartford began February with a 0-7-1 record in their first eight games, bringing their overall winless skid to 10 games (0-9-1). During this slump, the club acquired center Bill Gardner from the Chicago Black Hawks in exchange for a third round draft pick in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Gardner scored three goals and 13 points in 46 games with Chicago during the 1985-86 season.

The winless skid dropped the Whalers overall record to 26-29-2 following their 4-1 loss to the Minnesota North Stars on February 15. This dropped the club into last place in the Adams Division, six points behind the fourth place Buffalo Sabres.

On February 18, the Whalers earned their first win of February, a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The next night, the Whalers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 6-4, bringing their winning streak to two games. This came to an abrupt end, as Hartford lost their remaining three games of February.

The Whalers posted a record of 2-10-1 during February, dropping their overall record to 28-32-2. The club had earned 59 points and sat in last place, six points behind the Buffalo Sabres for the final playoff position in the Adams Division.


Hartford opened March with another loss, as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated Hartford 8-2 on March 1, extending their losing streak to four games. Hartford broke out of their slump, by winning their next three games, including two over the Buffalo Sabres, to improve their record to 31-33-2, cutting the Sabres lead to four points.

On March 8, the Whalers acquired right winger John Anderson from the Quebec Nordiques for defenseman Risto Siltanen. Anderson had 21 goals and 49 points in 65 games with the Nordiques in 1985-86, his first season with the club. He previously appeared in 534 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1977-1985, scoring 189 goals and 393 points with the Maple Leafs. That evening, the Whalers, despite an assist from Anderson, lost to the Nordiques 6-3, ending their winning streak at three games.

Following a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on March 10, the Whalers acquired defenseman Mike McEwen from the New York Rangers for right winger Bob Crawford. McEwen was acquired by New York from the Detroit Red Wings earlier in the season, and between the two clubs, he two goals and 17 points in 45 games. McEwen was a member of the New York Islanders from 1980-1984, winning three Stanley Cup championships in 1981, 1982, and 1983.

On March 13, the New York Islanders defeated Hartford 5-2, dropping the Whalers record to 32-35-2, as Hartford was now six points behind the Buffalo Sabres for the final playoff position. On March 15, the Whalers crushed the Chicago Black Hawks 11-4, which began an eight game unbeaten streak in which the Whalers earned a record of 6-0-2. On April 1, the Whalers met the Buffalo Sabres, with both teams tied for fourth place in the Adams Division. After Ray Ferraro gave the Whalers a 1-0 lead, the Sabres scored three in a row, taking a 3-1 lead in the second period. Hartford, clinging onto their playoff hopes, scored four goals in a row, including two goals by Kevin Dineen, to defeat the Sabres 5-3 and take over fourth place.

The Whalers ended the season with two wins in their final three games to clinch the fourth and final playoff position in the Adams Division. The club earned a record of 12-4-2 in their final 18 games, bringing their overall record to 40-36-4. The 40 victories and 84 points were franchise records, breaking the previous record of 30 wins set in 1984-85, and 73 points set in their inaugural season in 1979-80. This ended the Whalers five year playoff drought, as the club clinched their first playoff berth since 1980.

Season standings[edit]

Adams Division GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM
Quebec Nordiques 80 43 31 6 92 330 289 1847
Montreal Canadiens 80 40 33 7 87 330 280 1372
Boston Bruins 80 37 31 12 86 311 288 1919
Hartford Whalers 80 40 36 4 84 332 302 1759
Buffalo Sabres 80 37 37 6 80 296 291 1608

Schedule and results[edit]

Regular season[edit]

1985-86 Game Log

Legend:   Win (2 points)   Loss (0 points)   Tie (1 point)


1986 Stanley Cup playoffs

  Win   Loss

Player statistics[edit]


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

Player GP G A Pts +/- PIM
Sylvain Turgeon 76 45 34 79 1 88
Ray Ferraro 76 30 47 77 10 57
Ron Francis 53 24 53 77 8 24
Kevin Dineen 57 33 35 68 16 124
Stewart Gavin 76 26 29 55 12 51
Dean Evason 55 20 28 48 12 65
Paul Lawless 64 17 21 38 -3 20
Torrie Robertson 76 13 24 37 -11 358
Bob Crawford 57 14 20 34 -16 16
Dave Tippett 80 14 20 34 9 18
Wayne Babych 37 11 17 28 6 59
John Anderson 14 8 17 25 18 2
Doug Jarvis 57 8 16 24 7 20
Paul MacDermid 74 13 10 23 1 160
Ray Neufeld 16 5 10 15 -3 40
Greg Malone 22 6 7 13 -5 24
Mike Zuke 17 0 2 2 -2 12
Paul Fenton 1 0 0 0 1 0



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

Player GP G A Pts +/- PIM
Dave Babych 62 10 43 53 2 36
Risto Siltanen 52 8 22 30 2 30
Dana Murzyn 78 3 23 26 1 125
Joel Quenneville 80 5 19 24 21 83
Ulf Samuelsson 80 5 19 24 7 174
Mike McEwen 10 3 2 5 5 6
Brad Shaw 8 0 2 2 -1 4
Sylvain Cote 2 0 0 0 1 0
Mark Paterson 5 0 0 0 -5 5
Jack Brownschidle 9 0 0 0 -4 4


Note: GP = Games played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts; GAA = Goals against average

Mike Liut 57 3282 27 23 4 2 3.62
Steve Weeks 27 1544 13 13 0 1 3.85


1985-86 Hartford Whalers