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1972–73 NHL season: Map


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The 1972–73 NHL season was the 56th season of the National Hockey League. Sixteen teams each played 78 games. 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, many of which were based in the same cities as 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.The first thing the WHA did was sign Bobby Hull, and the Chicago Black Hawks sued, claiming a violation of the reserve clause in NHL contracts. Others soon followed Hull to the WHA, including Bernie Parent, 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.

Prior to the start of the season, the 1972 Summit Series, which was the first ever meeting between Soviet Union and NHL calibre Canadianmarker ice hockey players, took place. 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.

The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup by beating the Chicago Black Hawks four games to two in the finals. No teams in the playoffs swept their opponents, the last time this would happen until 1991.

Regular season

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

Final standings

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold
East Division GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM
Montreal Canadiens 78 52 10 16 120 329 184 783
Boston Bruins 78 51 22 5 107 330 235 1097
New York Rangers 78 47 23 8 102 297 208 765
Buffalo Sabres 78 37 27 14 88 257 219 940
Detroit Red Wings 78 37 29 12 86 265 243 893
Toronto Maple Leafs 78 27 41 10 64 247 279 716
Vancouver Canucks 78 22 47 9 53 233 339 943
New York Islanders 78 12 60 6 30 170 347 881

West Division GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM
Chicago Black Hawks 78 42 27 9 93 284 225 864
Philadelphia Flyers 78 37 30 11 85 296 256 1756
Minnesota North Stars 78 37 30 11 85 254 230 881
St. Louis Blues 78 32 34 12 76 233 251 1195
Pittsburgh Penguins 78 32 37 9 73 257 265 866
Los Angeles Kings 78 31 36 11 73 232 245 888
Atlanta Flames 78 25 38 15 65 191 239 852
California Golden Seals 78 16 46 16 48 213 323 840

Scoring leaders

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
John 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

Leading goaltenders


Playoff bracket

NHL awards

Prince of Wales Trophy: Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl: Chicago Black Hawks
Art Ross Trophy: Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: Lowell MacDonald, Pittsburgh Penguins
Calder Memorial Trophy: Steve Vickers, New York Rangers
Conn Smythe Trophy: Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy: Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers
James Norris Memorial Trophy: Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo Sabres
Lester B. Pearson Award: Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
NHL Plus/Minus Award: Jacques Laperriere, Montreal Canadiens
Vezina Trophy: Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy: Walter L. Bush, Jr.

All-Star teams

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


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

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


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