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The 1953–54 NHL season was the 37th season of the National Hockey League which lasted from October 8, 1953 to April 16, 1954 where six teams each played 70 games.

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the final to win the team's sixth championship.

Regular Season[]

The New York Rangers decided to drop Gump Worsley and went with Johnny Bower in goal this season. Bower did well, but not well enough to get the Rangers into the playoffs. However, the Rangers managed to come up with a fine rookie in Camille Henry who won the Calder Memorial Trophy.

On December 9, 1953, the Montreal Canadiens played the Toronto Maple Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens and the teams set a record of most penalties in a game.

The trouble started when Montreal's Ed Mazur got into a fight with Toronto's George Armstrong in the first period. Both received game misconduct penalties. Early in the second period, Bud MacPherson broke his stick on the ribs of Toronto's Ron Stewart. He chose not to retaliate until a more opportune time. It came at 18:12 of the third period when Stewart and MacPherson collided again.

This time, they pushed and shoved and the gloves came off and they began to pummel each other. Tom Johnson came to MacPherson's aid by putting a headlock on Stewart and Stewart threw a punch that landed on Johnson's jaw. Stewart pursued MacPherson again, now that he was in combat with Eric Nesterenko of Toronto and soon the benches emptied and everyone was fighting except Maurice Richard & Tim Horton who merely grabbed each other's sweaters.

Referee Frank Udvari handed out 36 penalties, including 15 misconducts for a record 204 minutes in penalties. With almost 2 minutes left in the game, only 8 players from each team excluding the goaltenders Gerry McNeil and Harry Lumley, who did battle in the brawl, were permitted to finish the game. Almost forgotten was that Toronto won the game 3–0.

The Rangers gained some publicity by using a so-called elixir prepared by restaurateur Gene Leone, but no conclusive results were reported.

There were persistent rumours that the Chicago Black Hawks would fold due to the poor performance of the team and fans staying away in droves. NHL president Clarence Campbell discussed the problems with Arthur M. Wirtz and it was announced that the rumours were without foundation.

President Campbell was busy this year imposing fines and suspensions. As a result of pushing referee Frank Udvari into the boards during a November 12 game, Bernie Geoffrion was fined $250. Later, in a December 20 game, he and Ron Murphy engaged in stick swinging which left Murphy with a broken jaw. Both players were suspended.

There was trouble brewing for Maurice Richard when he ghosted an article in the Samedi Dimanche newspaper, calling NHL president Clarence Campbell a dictator and took exception to Campbell's suspension of Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion for the stick swinging incident. Richard was required to post a $1000 bond and refrain from any more articles.

The Detroit Red Wings were first overall in the National Hockey League for the sixth straight season.


After losing four straight games to the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins general manager Art Ross, their manager from the day the Bruins came into the NHL, announced his retirement. He had been grooming Lynn Patrick to succeed him and Patrick took over as general manager.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

  • March 23, 1954: 5-0 (Winner: Detroit)
  • March 25, 1954: 3-1 (Winner: Toronto)
  • March 27, 1954: 3-1 (Winner: Detroit)
  • March 30, 1954: 2-1 (Winner: Detroit)
  • April 1, 1954: 4-3 Overtime (Winner: Detroit)

Detroit wins 4–1.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins

  • March 23, 1954: 2-0 (Winner: Montreal)
  • March 25, 1954: 8-1 (Winner: Montreal)
  • March 28, 1954: 4-3 (Winner: Montreal)
  • March 30, 1954: 2-0 (Winner: Montreal)

Montreal wins 4–0.


The James Norris Memorial Trophy made its debut this season and its first winner was Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Norris Trophy goes to the top defenceman each year and was named in honor of James E. Norris, the owner of the Detroit Red Wings franchise from 1932 until his death in 1952.

Award winners
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Regular season champion)
Detroit Red Wings
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer)
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
Camille Henry, New York Rangers
Hart Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Al Rollins, Chicago Black Hawks
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender of team with best goals-against record)
Harry Lumley, Toronto Maple Leafs
All-Star teams
First team   Position   Second team
Harry Lumley, Toronto Maple Leafs G Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings D Bill Gadsby, Chicago Black Hawks
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens D Tim Horton, Toronto Maple Leafs
Ken Mosdell, Montreal Canadiens C Ted Kennedy, Toronto Maple Leafs
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings RW Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens
Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings LW Ed Sandford, Boston Bruins

Player Statistics[]

Scoring leaders[]

(Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes)

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings 70 33 48 81 109
Maurice Richard Montreal Canadiens 70 37 30 67 112
Ted Lindsay Detroit Red Wings 70 26 36 62 110
Bernie Geoffrion Montreal Canadiens 54 29 25 54 87
Bert Olmstead Montreal Canadiens 70 15 37 52 85
Red Kelly Detroit Red Wings 62 16 33 49 18
Earl Reibel Detroit Red Wings 69 15 33 48 18
Ed Sandford Boston Bruins 70 16 31 47 42
Fleming Mackell Boston Bruins 70 15 32 47 60
Ken Mosdell Montreal Canadiens 67 22 24 46 64

Leading goaltenders[]

(Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts)

Player Team GP MIN GA GAA W L T SO
Jacques Plante Montreal Canadiens 17 1020 27 1.59 7 5 5 5
Harry Lumley Toronto Maple Leafs 69 4140 128 1.86 32 24 13 13
Terry Sawchuk Detroit Red Wings 67 4004 129 1.93 35 19 13 12
Gerry McNeil Montreal Canadiens 53 3180 114 2.15 28 19 6 6
Jim Henry Boston Bruins 70 4200 181 2.59 32 28 10 8
Johnny Bower New York Rangers 70 4200 182 2.60 29 31 10 5
Al Rollins Chicago Black Hawks 66 3960 213 3.23 12 47 7 5


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1953–54:

  • Doug Mohns, Boston Bruins
  • Earl Reibel, Detroit Red Wings
  • Camille Henry, New York Rangers
  • Johnny Bower, New York Rangers

Last Games[]

The following is a list of players of note who played their last game in the NHL in 1953–54 (listed with their last team):

  • Woody Dumart, Boston Bruins
  • George Gee, Chicago Black Hawks
  • Jack Gelineau, Chicago Black Hawks
  • Sid Abel, Chicago Black Hawks
  • Jim McFadden, Chicago Black Hawks
  • Elmer Lach, Montreal Canadiens
  • Gaye Stewart, Montreal Canadiens
  • Doug Bentley, New York Rangers
  • Max Bentley, New York Rangers
  • Leo Reise, New York Rangers
  • Howie Meeker, Toronto Maple Leafs