Friday, December 15

50, The Most Important Number In The National Hockey League

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The NHL became whole in 1917-18 and in cases it took several decades before its teams reached the milestones of 50 games, wins, losses and points.

The teams of the NHL played their first 50 game schedule in 1942-43 after the Brooklyn Americans left the league, dropping it down the ‘Original Six’ teams. The 50 game schedule continued for four seasons until it was bumped to 60 games in 1946-47.

The first team ever to win 50 or more games in a season is the Boston Bruins. The feat was accomplished in 1970-71 when the Bruins won 57 games over a 78 game schedule. Interestingly, after such an amazing regular season, the team did not go on to win the Stanley Cup. In fact, they didn’t even appear in the championship final series. Instead, the Montreal Canadiens beat out the St. Louis Blues for the right to keep the Stanley Cup for a year.

The first team to lose 50 games came much sooner. In 1953-54, the Chicago Blackhawks lost a whopping 51 games in just a 70 game season. With only 12 wins and 7 ties, the team finished 37 points behind the fifth place New York Rangers and 57 points behind the first place Detroit Red Wings in the six team league. That was part of a terrible series of years for the Blackhawks when they failed to win more than 20 games in a season from 1953-54 to 1956-57.

The first team to have 50 or more points in a season was the Ottawa Senators in 1925-26 when they had 52. That year, the league had their first 36 game schedule, up from 30 games the year before. The league had a much different make-up back then with defunct teams like the Montreal Maroons, Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Americans still in action. The Senators, of course, went defunct before being revived again in the 1990’s. The Toronto Maple Leafs were then called the Toronto St. Pats. The Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens were the only other teams that would continue on to today as the Red Wings and Black Hawks were still a year away from existence.

By the way, just like the Bruins when they had their 57 win season, the 1925-26 Senators would not go on to win the Stanley Cup that season. Instead, the Montreal Maroons would have that honour. The Senators would go on to win the Cup in the very next season, however.

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