The 1951–52 NHL season was the 35th season of the National Hockey League (NHL) which lasted from October 11, 1951 to April 15, 1952.
A long standing feud between Boston president Weston Adams and general manager Art Ross ended on October 12, 1951, when Adams sold his stock in Boston Garden to Walter Brown.
The Chicago Black Hawks (who had made the mammoth nine player deal the previous season) now decided to make the largest cash deal for players to this time by paying $75,000 for Jim McFadden, George Gee, Jimmy Peters, Clare Martin, Clare Raglan and Max McNab.
The league mandated that road teams would now wear a basic white uniform, while home teams will wear coloured uniforms.
The goal crease is enlarged from 3 × 7 feet to 4 × 8 feet. The faceoff circles are expanded from a 10-foot radius to a 15-foot radius.
Conn Smythe offered $10,000 for anyone who found Bill Barilko (who had been missing since August 26, 1951). Barilko and Dr. Henry Hudson had left Rupert House on James Bay in the doctor's light plane for Timmins, Ontario, Canada after a weekend fishing trip and had not been found.
For the fourth straight season, the Detroit Red Wings finished first overall in the NHL.
On November 25 in Chicago, Chicago goalie Harry Lumley hurt a knee. At the age of 46, trainer Moe Roberts, who played his first game in the NHL for Boston in 1925–26, played the third period in goal for Chicago and didn't yield a goal. Roberts would stand as the oldest person to ever play an NHL game until Gordie Howe returned to the NHL at age 51 in 1979.
Chicago wasn't drawing well and so they decided to experiment with afternoon games. It worked, as the largest crowd of the season, 13,600 fans, showed up for a January 20th game in which Chicago lost to Toronto 3–1.
Elmer Lach night was held March 8 at the Forum in Montreal as the Canadiens tied Chicago 4–4. 14,452 fans were on hand to see Lach presented with a car, rowboat, TV set, deep-freeze chest, bedroom and dining room suites, a refrigerator and many other articles.
On the last night of the season on March 23, 1952, with nothing at stake at Madison Square Garden, 3,254 fans saw Chicago's Bill Mosienko score the fastest hat trick in NHL history, 3 goals in 21 seconds.
Lorne Anderson was the goaltender who gave up the goals to Chicago. Gus Bodnar also set a record with the fastest three assists in NHL history as he assisted on all three goals Mosienko scored. Chicago beat the New York Rangers 7–6.
In the playoffs, Detroit finished 8–0, sweeping the defending Stanley Cup champions Toronto (the first time in NHL history the cup champs were swept in the first round) and Montreal, the first time a team had gone undefeated in the playoffs since the 1934-35 Montreal Maroons.
The Wings scored 24 goals in the playoffs, compared to a combined five goals for their opponents. Detroit goaltender Terry Sawchuk did not give up a goal on home ice during the playoffs.
|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)
|Bernie Geoffrion, Montreal Canadiens|
(Most valuable player)
|Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:|
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
|Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs|
(Goaltender of team with best goals-against average)
|Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings|
|First team||Position||Second team|
|Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings||G||Jim Henry, Boston Bruins|
|Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings||D||Hy Buller, New York Rangers|
|Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens||D||Jimmy Thomson, Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Elmer Lach, Montreal Canadiens||C||Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins|
|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, PIM = Penalties in minutes)
|Gordie Howe||Detroit Red Wings||70||47||39||86||78|
|Ted Lindsay||Detroit Red Wings||70||30||39||69||123|
|Elmer Lach||Montreal Canadiens||70||15||50||65||36|
|Don Raleigh||New York Rangers||70||19||42||61||14|
|Sid Smith||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||27||30||57||6|
|Bernie Geoffrion||Montreal Canadiens||67||30||24||54||66|
|Bill Mosienko||Chicago Black Hawks||70||31||22||53||10|
|Sid Abel||Detroit Red Wings||70||17||36||53||32|
|Ted Kennedy||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||19||33||52||33|
|Milt Schmidt||Boston Bruins||69||21||29||50||57|
(Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts)
|Terry Sawchuk||Detroit Red Wings||70||4200||133||1.90||44||14||12||12|
|Al Rollins||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||4170||154||2.22||29||24||16||5|
|Gerry McNeil||Montreal Canadiens||70||4200||164||2.34||34||26||10||5|
|Jim Henry||Boston Bruins||70||4200||176||2.51||25||29||16||7|
|Chuck Rayner||New York Rangers||53||3180||159||3.00||18||25||10||2|
|Emile Francis||New York Rangers||14||840||42||3.00||4||7||3||0|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1951–52:
- Leo Labine, Boston Bruins
- Real Chevrefils, Boston Bruins
- Kenny Wharram, Chicago Black Hawks
- Don Marshall, Montreal Canadiens
- Dickie Moore, Montreal Canadiens
- Wally Hergesheimer, New York Rangers
- Eric Nesterenko, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Leo Boivin, Toronto Maple Leafs
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1951–52: