The 1948–49 NHL season was the 32nd season of the National Hockey League which lasted from October 13, 1948 to April 16, 1949.
A new rule (often called the "Durnan Rule") was introduced for the start of the season stating that goalies cannot be the captain and wear the "C" or "A".
Specifically, NHL Rule 14-D (today's rule 6.1) read: "No playing Coach or playing Manager or goalkeeper shall be permitted to act as Captain or Alternate Captain."
This rule was introduced because Bill Durnan (the Montreal Canadiens goalie and captain) would frequently leave his crease to dispute calls with the referees. Opposing teams claimed that this would give the Canadiens unscheduled timeouts during strategic points in games. It would be another 60 years before another goalie would be captain.
For the 2008–09 NHL season, the Vancouver Canucks named Roberto Luongo their 12th team captain and NHL history's seventh goalie captain. However, the rule remained in place and Luongo could not "act" as captain during games.
On October 8, 1948, the New York Rangers were due to start their season against the Montreal Canadiens, when the team suffered misfortune.
O'Connor suffered several broken ribs, Eddolls a severed tendon in his knee, Laprade suffered a broken nose, Moe had a cut in the head requiring several stitches and Leswick escaped with a few bruises.
On November 10, 1948, unseasonably warm temperatures caused a fog bank to occur inside the Boston Garden during a game between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Referee Bill Chadwick abandoned the game after only 9 minutes of the first period due to poor visibility. The game was replayed the following night, with Boston winning 4–1.
A league record of ten major penalties was set November 25, 1948 when 11,000 fans at the Montreal Forum witnessed a donnybrook.
It started when the Habs' Ken Mosdell elbowed Maple Leaf Gus Mortson. Mortson retaliated by knocking Elliot de Grey down with his stick. Montreal's Maurice Richard then sprang onto Mortson's back and they fought, and then all hands joined in. Mortson, Richard, Toronto's Howie Meeker and Mosdell were banished with majors.
Play had scarcely begun when Ken Reardon (Montreal) and Joe Klukay (Toronto) began fencing and Bill Barilko went at Reardon while Klukay got into it with Billy Reay & Hal Laycoe fought Garth Boesch. In the game itself, Turk Broda picked up his first shutout of the year as the Leafs won, 2–0.
A sad note was the death of former Pittsburgh Pirates defenceman Tex White, who was found dead in his bed at his home in Port Colborne, Ontario on December 12, 1948. He was only 48 years old.
Both Detroit and Montreal lost key players to injury this year.
Bill Durnan got hot in the second half of the season and recorded four consecutive shutouts, going 309 minutes and 21 seconds without giving up a goal. In all, he had 10 shutouts and won his fifth Vezina Trophy in six years.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Canadiens
- March 22, 1949: 2-1 Overtime (Winner: Detroit)
- March 24, 1949: 4-3 Overtime (Winner: Montreal)
- March 26, 1949: 3-2 (Winner: Montreal)
- March 29, 1949: 3-1 (Winner: Detroit)
- March 31, 1949: 3-1 (Winner: Detroit)
- April 2, 1949: 3-1 (Winner: Montreal)
- April 5, 1949: 3-1 (Winner: Detroit)
Detroit wins best-of-seven series 4 games to 3.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins
- March 22, 1949: 3-0 (Winner: Toronto)
- March 24, 1949: 3-2 (Winner: Toronto)
- March 26, 1949: 5-4 Overtime (Winner: Boston)
- March 29, 1949: 3-1 (Winner: Toronto)
- March 30, 1949: 3-2 (Winner: Toronto)
Toronto wins best-of-seven series 4 games to 1.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings
- April 8, 1949: 3-2 (Winner: Toronto)
- April 10, 1949: 3-1 (Winner: Toronto)
- April 13, 1949: 3-1 (Winner: Toronto)
- April 16, 1949: 3-1 (Winner: Toronto)
Toronto wins best-of-seven series 4 games to 0.
| Calder Memorial Trophy:|
(Top first-year player)
|Pentti Lund, New York Rangers|
(Most valuable player)
|Sid Abel, Detroit Red Wings|
|Lady Byng Trophy:|
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
|Bill Quackenbush, Detroit Red Wings|
| O'Brien Cup:|
(Stanley Cup runner-up)
|Detroit Red Wings|
|Prince of Wales Trophy:|
(Top regular-season record)
|Detroit Red Wings|
| Art Ross Trophy:|
|Roy Conacher, Chicago Black Hawks|
(Goaltender of team with lowest GAA)
|Bill Durnan, Montreal Canadiens|
(Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes)
|Roy Conacher||Chicago Black Hawks||60||26||42||68||8|
|Doug Bentley||Chicago Black Hawks||60||23||43||66||38|
|Sid Abel||Detroit Red Wings||60||28||26||54||49|
|Ted Lindsay||Detroit Red Wings||50||26||28||54||97|
|Jim Conacher||Chicago Black Hawks / Detroit Red Wings||59||26||23||49||43|
|Paul Ronty||Boston Bruins||60||20||29||49||11|
|Harry Watson||Toronto Maple Leafs||60||26||19||45||30|
|Billy Reay||Montreal Canadiens||60||22||23||45||33|
|Gus Bodnar||Chicago Black Hawks||59||16||26||45||14|
|Johnny Peirson||Boston Bruins||59||22||21||43||45|
(Note: GP = Games played; Mins – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts)
|Bill Durnan||Montreal Canadiens||60||3600||126||2.10||28||23||9||10|
|Harry Lumley||Detroit Red Wings||60||3600||145||2.42||34||19||7||6|
|Turk Broda||Toronto Maple Leafs||60||3600||161||2.68||22||25||13||5|
|Frank Brimsek||Boston Bruins||54||3240||147||2.72||26||20||8||1|
|Chuck Rayner||New York Rangers||58||3480||168||2.90||16||31||11||7|
|Jim Henry||Chicago Black Hawks||60||3600||211||3.52||21||31||8||0|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1948–49:
The following is a list of players of note who played their last game in the NHL in 1948–49 (listed with their last team):
- Neil Colville, New York Rangers