The 1945–46 NHL season was the 29th season of the National Hockey League (NHL) which lasted from October 24, 1945 to April 9, 1946.
Synchronized red lights to signal goals were made obligatory for all NHL rinks.
It was rumored in the press that Lester Patrick planned to retire as general manager of the New York Rangers.
On February 22, 1946, he announced his retirement from the general manager position, however he would stay on as vice president of Madison Square Garden.
Veterans came back to their teams this year as World War II ended, but many found they could not regain their form.
One who did regain his form was the man formerly known as "Mr. Zero", Boston Bruins' goaltender Frank Brimsek. He was shelled in an 8–3 contest with Chicago, but got better game by game.
The Bruins had first place at one point, then finished second. Brimsek made the Second All-Star Team as a result.
Max Bentley of Chicago led the league in scoring and because of the "Pony Line" including him, his brother Doug and Bill Mosienko, the Black Hawks were in first place at one point. But misfortune hit the Hawks when Doug Bentley injured his knee in a January 23, 1946 game and the team sagged.
Frank Patrick, (the former Pacific Coast Hockey Association president and former managing director for the NHL) suffered a heart attack and was not released from the hospital for several weeks.
A bombshell exploded on January 30, 1946 when defenceman Babe Pratt was expelled from the NHL for betting on games. However, he only bet on his own team and appealed his expulsion. On his promise, he would not bet on any more games and was reinstated. Pratt missed 9 games during his suspension.
Maple Leaf Gaye Stewart led the league in goals with 37, but Toronto finished fifth and missed the playoffs for the first time since playing at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Bill Durnan equalled George Hainsworth's record of three consecutive Vezina Trophies and led the league in shutouts with 4.
- March 19, 1946: 6-2 (Winner: Montreal)
- March 21, 1946: 5-1 (Winner: Montreal)
- March 24, 1946: 8-2 (Winner: Montreal)
- March 26, 1946: 7-2 (Winner: Montreal)
Montreal wins 4–0.
The NHL changed the criteria for the Vezina Trophy to award it to the goaltender who plays the most games for the team which gives up the least goals in the season.
|Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Regular season champion)
|Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
|Edgar Laprade, New York Rangers|
(Most valuable player)
|Max Bentley, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Lady Byng Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
|Toe Blake, Montreal Canadiens|
(Goaltender of team with lowest GAA)
|Bill Durnan, Montreal Canadiens|
|First team||Position||Second team|
|Bill Durnan, Montreal Canadiens||G||Frank Brimsek, Boston Bruins|
|Jack Crawford, Boston Bruins||D||Ken Reardon, Montreal Canadiens|
|Emile "Butch" Bouchard, Montreal Canadiens||D||Jack Stewart, Detroit Red Wings|
|Max Bentley, Chicago Black Hawks||C||Elmer Lach, Montreal Canadiens|
|Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens||RW||Bill Mosienko, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Gaye Stewart, Toronto Maple Leafs||LW||Toe Blake, Montreal Canadiens|
|Dick Irvin, Montreal Canadiens||Coach||Johnny Gottselig, Chicago Black Hawks|
(Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes)
|Max Bentley||Chicago Black Hawks||47||31||30||61||6|
|Gaye Stewart||Toronto Maple Leafs||50||37||15||52||8|
|Toe Blake||Montreal Canadiens||50||29||21||50||2|
|Clint Smith||Chicago Black Hawks||50||26||24||50||2|
|Bill Mosienko||Chicago Black Hawks||40||18||30||48||12|
|Maurice Richard||Montreal Canadiens||50||27||21||48||50|
|Ab DeMarco||New York Rangers||50||20||27||47||20|
|Elmer Lach||Montreal Canadiens||50||13||34||47||34|
|Alex Kaleta||Chicago Black Hawks||49||19||27||46||17|
|Billy Taylor||Toronto Maple Leafs||48||23||18||41||14|
(Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts)
|Bill Durnan||Montreal Canadiens||40||2400||104||2.60||24||11||5||4|
|Harry Lumley||Detroit Red Wings||50||3000||159||3.18||20||20||10||2|
|Frank Brimsek||Boston Bruins||34||2040||111||3.26||16||14||4||2|
|Mike Karakas||Chicago Black Hawks||48||2880||166||3.46||22||19||7||1|
|Turk Broda||Toronto Maple Leafs||15||900||53||3.53||6||6||3||0|
|Frank McCool||Toronto Maple Leafs||22||1320||81||3.68||10||9||3||0|
|Chuck Rayner||New York Rangers||40||2377||149||3.76||12||21||7||1|
|Jim Henry||New York Rangers||11||623||42||4.04||1||7||2||1|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1945–46:
- Leo Reise, Chicago Black Hawks
- George Gee, Chicago Black Hawks
- Jimmy Peters, Montreal Canadiens
- Cal Gardner, New York Rangers
- Edgar Laprade, New York Rangers
- Tony Leswick, New York Rangers
- Jimmy Thomson, Toronto Maple Leafs
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1945-46:
- Herb Cain, Boston Bruins
- Mike Karakas, Chicago Black Hawks
- Carl Liscombe, Detroit Red Wings
- Earl Seibert, Detroit Red Wings
- Flash Hollett, Detroit Red Wings
- Mud Bruneteau, Detroit Red Wings
- Syd Howe, Detroit Red Wings
- Ott Heller, New York Rangers
- Lynn Patrick, New York Rangers
- Frank McCool, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Bob Davidson, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Sweeney Schriner, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Lorne Carr, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Mel Hill, Toronto Maple Leafs