The 1949–50 NHL season was the 33rd season of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The league implemented a rule requiring all teams to provide an emergency goaltender for every game for use by either team in case of illness or injury.
The biggest trade in NHL history at the time took place in July 1950 with Sugar Jim Henry, Gaye Stewart, Bob Goldham & Metro Prystai of Chicago going to Detroit for Harry Lumley, Black Jack Stewart, Al Dewsbury, Don Morrison & Pete Babando, an exchange of nine players altogether.
Joe Primeau was named coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs with Hap Day kicked upstairs to assistant general manager. Toronto came flying out of the gate, undefeated in 11 games. Al Rollins had a great year, finishing with a 1.75 goals against average in 40 games.
The Leafs had hoped to have Rollins share the Vezina Trophy with Turk Broda, but the league decided Rollins alone would be the recipient. The Leafs' .679 win percentage remains their all time best for a season, despite the fact that they were second in the league standings behind Detroit.
With the New York Rangers slumping this season, they hired a hypnotist, Dr. David Tracy, to help relax the team. The treatment remained in doubt and the Rangers lost to Boston November 12. When asked why the treatment didn't work, Dr. Tracy said that he should have worked with the goaltender (Chuck Rayner) as he wasn't relaxed enough.
Montreal fans were excited when it was reported that two junior stars, Jean Beliveau and Bernie Geoffrion, would be given a trial in a December 16 game with the Rangers. The Canadiens played a 1–1 tie before 14,158 fans. Geoffrion scored the Canadiens goal in his debut.
Chicago was in third place at mid-season when bad luck struck. Their captain, Black Jack Stewart ruptured a disc in his back and had to undergo surgery. He was finished for the season and his career was in jeopardy. Aggravating things were injuries to Gus Bodnar and Bill Gadsby. The Black Hawks won only two games in the second half and finished last.
In March, Rocket Richard ran into trouble in a game with Detroit. Richard was tripped and rose with a cut between the eyes. No penalty was called and Richard commenced an argument with referee Hugh McLean. He continued his argument too long and was given a misconduct penalty.
Richard then skated to the penalty box and found Leo Reise of Detroit there to welcome him with derisive remarks which infuriated Richard, who then punched Reise, and when linesman Jim Primeau rushed to intervene, Richard took a poke at him and Richard was given a game misconduct.
The Canadiens took a train to New York for a game against the Rangers, and the next morning, Richard encountered referee McLean and linesman Primeau in the lobby of the Picadilly Hotel. No punches were thrown, but Richard grabbed McLean by the tie and then Primeau intervened.
Considerable profanity filled the air, but cooler heads separated the trio before fists could fly. NHL President Clarence Campbell took a dim view of the matter and fined the Rocket $500 for conduct prejudicial to the welfare of hockey.
The Detroit Red Wings got hot in the second half, overtaking Toronto and finished in first place again, becoming the first team with more than 100 points.
Gordie Howe led the NHL in goals, assists and points while goaltender Terry Sawchuk won the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie. Sawchuk set a record for most wins by a goalie, as he was in net for all of Detroit's 44 victories.
The second seed Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated the fourth seed Boston Bruins in five games and the third seed Montreal Canadiens upset first overall Detroit Red Wings in six, setting up a Leafs-Canadiens Stanley Cup final series which was won by the Leafs 4–1.
| Prince of Wales Trophy:|
(Regular season champion)
|Detroit Red Wings|
| Art Ross Trophy:|
|Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings|
| Calder Memorial Trophy:|
(Best first-year player)
|Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings|
(Most valuable player)
|Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:|
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
|Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings|
(Goaltender of team with best goals-against record)
|Al Rollins, Toronto Maple Leafs|
|First team||Position||Second team|
|Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings||G||Chuck Rayner, New York Rangers|
|Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings||D||Jimmy Thomson, Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Bill Quackenbush, Boston Bruins||D||Leo Reise, Detroit Red Wings|
|Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins||C||Ted Kennedy, Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings||RW||Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens|
|Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings||LW||Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs|
(Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points)
|Gordie Howe||Detroit Red Wings||70||43||43||86|
|Maurice Richard||Montreal Canadiens||65||42||24||66|
|Max Bentley||Toronto Maple Leafs||67||21||41||62|
|Sid Abel||Detroit Red Wings||69||23||38||61|
|Milt Schmidt||Boston Bruins||62||22||39||61|
|Ted Kennedy||Toronto Maple Leafs||63||18||43||61|
|Ted Lindsay||Detroit Red Wings||67||24||35||59|
|Tod Sloan||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||31||25||56|
|Red Kelly||Detroit Red Wings||70||17||37||54|
|Sid Smith||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||30||21||51|
(Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts)
|Al Rollins||Toronto Maple Leafs||40||2373||70||1.77||27||5||8||5|
|Terry Sawchuk||Detroit Red Wings||70||4200||139||1.99||44||13||13||11|
|Turk Broda||Toronto Maple Leafs||31||1827||68||2.23||14||11||5||6|
|Gerry McNeil||Montreal Canadiens||70||4200||184||2.63||25||30||15||6|
|Jack Gelineau||Boston Bruins||70||4200||197||2.81||22||30||18||4|
|Chuck Rayner||New York Rangers||66||3940||87||2.85||19||28||19||2|
|Emile Francis||New York Rangers||5||260||14||3.23||1||1||2||0|
|Harry Lumley||Chicago Black Hawks||64||3785||246||3.90||12||41||10||3|
|Marcel Pelletier||Chicago Black Hawks||6||355||29||4.90||1||5||0||0|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1950–51:
- Alex Delvecchio, Detroit Red Wings
- Bernie Geoffrion, Montreal Canadiens
- Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens
- Dollard St. Laurent, Montreal Canadiens
- Danny Lewicki, Toronto Maple Leafs
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1950–51: