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The 2008–09 NHL season was the 91st season of the National Hockey League.

It was the first season since prior to the 2004-05 NHL lockout in which every team played each other at least once during the season, following three seasons where teams only played against two divisions in the other conference (one division at home and one on the road.)

It began on October 4th with the regular season ending on April 12th.

The Stanley Cup playoffs ended on June 12th with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking the championship.

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the 57th NHL All-Star Game at the Bell Centre on January 25, 2009, part of the Montreal Canadiens centennial.

League business[]

Increase in salary cap[]

The NHL announced that the regular season salary cap would be going up for the fourth straight season.

The 2008–09 salary cap is being increased by $6,400,000 (US) per team to bring the salary cap up to $56,700,000 (US).

The salary floor is at $40,700,000 (US), which is higher than the salary cap on 2005–06 season.

Rule changes[]

The NHL brought in a number of rule changes for the start of the 2008–09 NHL season aimed at increasing offence and safety.

The first rule change was to Rule 76.2 on faceoffs.

The first faceoff of a power play will now be in the defending zone of the team that committed the foul, regardless of where the play was stopped.

The second rule dealt with the issue of safety while players are pursuing the puck on a potential icing call.

Rule 81.1 states that:

"Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player."

The third rule change also dealt with faceoff position: if a puck is shot off the goal frame, goal post or crossbar, the subsequent faceoff will remain in the end zone where the puck went out of play.

Another rule change prohibits TV commercials and any personnel changes immediately after an icing call.

Season schedule[]

The 2008–09 schedule returns to the pre-lockout schedule.

The new schedule eliminates the three-year rotation where teams would only play teams in two of the three divisions of the opposite conference and instead the new schedule guarantees that each team plays every other team at least once.

In the new schedule, each team will play their divisional rivals six times for a total of 24 games.

They will play all other conference teams four times for a total of 40 games and will play every team in the opposite conference at least once for a total of 15 games.

To obtain a total of 82 games there are an additional three-wild card games; for the Canadian teams, the three-wild card games are composed of playing the three Canadian teams in the opposite conference an additional time.

European openers[]

The regular season started with four games played in Europe.

The Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins played each other twice in Stockholm, Sweden and the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning played each other twice in Prague, Czech Republic.

The New York Rangers represented the NHL in the 2008 Victoria Cup challenge game as part of the club's pre-season schedule.

The four teams also played some pre-season exhibition games in Europe.

Other than the four overseas regular season games starting October 4th, the actual first day of regular season games was October 9th as far as widespread continental North American broadcast from most providers (including pay-per-view hockey packages).

Other teams still played preseason games between October 4th and 6th.

By February 23, 2009, all four teams who started the season in Europe had fired their coaches.

Winter Classic[]

Due to the success of the 2008 NHL Winter Classic, another outdoor game was held in the 2008–09 NHL season.

While Yankee Stadium was considered an early favorite, in a game to be hosted by the Rangers, cold-weather issues involving the old stadium put that location out of the mix.

Another site considered was Beaver Stadium at Pennsylvania State University with that game to likely involve the Penguins and the Flyers.

On May 29, 2008, The Sports Network reported that the 2009 NHL Winter Classic would be held in Chicago, Illinois on January 1, 2009 between the Chicago Blackhawks and defending champion Detroit Red Wings.

Soldier Field was considered an early candidate, but the National Football League (NFL)'s Chicago Bears objected, citing a possible home game for the NFL playoffs that weekend (January 3-4). Ironically, the Bears ended up being eliminated from contention in the last week.

It was decided that the game would be played at Wrigley Field (the North Side home of the Chicago Cubs) as confirmed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on July 6th.

Ten days afterward, the NHL confirmed the reports that the game would officially be held on New Year's Day. The Red Wings won the game 6-4.

Trade deadline[]

The NHL and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) agreed to move the trade deadline from Tuesday, March 3, 2009 to Wednesday, March 4, 2009.

This was done mainly because the schedule has twelve games on March 3rd and only two on March 4th.

General Managers' Meeting[]

At the meeting (held in Naples, Florida from March 9–11, 2009), general managers of the teams discussed issues that concerned them.

Consensus on any topic would lead to action by the Board of Governors or the Competition committee in later meetings.

Paul Kelly (the president of the NHLPA) made a presentation on the topic of dangerous hits to the head, proposing new rules to penalize intentional hits.

The general managers could not agree on the planned rule change and took no further action.

Kelly intends to review the issue at the future Competition committee meeting, which is held after the Stanley Cup final.

The general managers also discussed the topic of fighting in hockey and agreed to penalize further players who start fights directly after face-offs and to further enforce the existing "instigator" rule.

Due to the death of Alexei Cherepanov, the managers agreed to award a second-round compensatory pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft to the New York Rangers.

Scheduled events and deadlines[]

The Christmas holiday roster freeze went into effect on December 19, 2008, and ended on December 27, 2008.

No regular-season games were held during the NHL All-Star break from January 22nd to January 26th.

During the break, the NHL held its annual All-Star Game and the SuperSkills Competition in Montreal, Quebec.

The trade deadline was March 4th at 3 PM EST. The most notable trade was between the Phoenix Coyotes and Calgary Flames sending Olli Jokinen to Calgary, but there were fewer trades than at previous deadlines.

Regular season[]

The first goal of the season was scored by Markus Naslund of the New York Rangers in Prague against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

On October 16, 2008, the Blackhawks fired head coach Denis Savard and replaced him with former Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues head coach Joel Quenneville.

On Saturday, October 25, the NHL scheduled fifteen games—with all 30 teams playing—for the second time in league history.

On November 3, 2008 (in a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New York Islanders), Islanders forward Chris Campoli scored twice in one overtime.

First, Campoli retrieved a loose puck and fired a shot past the Jackets' goaltender Fredrik Norrena.

The shot went through the net and while Campoli celebrated, the game continued. Campoli then received a pass in front of the goal and shot the puck again into the net.

Head coach Barry Melrose of the Tampa Bay Lightning would record his first win as a head coach in over 13 years on October 21, 2008, with a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers, however, the Lightning did not get off to a great start as hoped and Melrose was fired by the Lightning with a 5-7-4 record.

Rick Tocchet (who had been hired as assistant coach during the previous offseason) was promoted to interim head coach. Melrose subsequently re-signed with broadcaster ESPN.

Melrose proceeded to get into a war of words with the Lightning management, accusing the management of interference during an interview on a Toronto radio station.

On December 2, 2008, Carolina Hurricanes' head coach Peter Laviolette was fired and Paul Maurice was rehired in his place. Ron Francis became the team's associate head coach.

During the annual December board of governors' meeting, the issue of the state of the economy was raised.

The Phoenix Coyotes were reported to lose up to $35 million on the 2008–09 season.

When asked to comment on Phoenix's loss, Commissioner Gary Bettman was quoted as saying: "They're going to get through the season just fine."

The Buffalo Sabres (while not for sale) had been approached for purchase.

On December 5, 2008 Sean Avery of the Dallas Stars was suspended for six games for "off-colour" remarks prior to a game against the Calgary Flames.

On December 14, 2008, the Stars' management announced that he would not be returning to the team.

After his reinstatement by the league, Avery reported to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL.

He was placed on re-entry waivers and was claimed by the New York Rangers, (his team back in 2007–08)

On December 23, 2008 the Toronto Globe and Mail reported that the Phoenix Coyotes team is receiving financial assistance from the league in the form of advances on league revenues.

The Coyotes have pledged all of their assets to New York company SOF Investments LP to cover an estimated debt of $80 million.

The team has lost an estimated $200 million since 2001 and may lose $30 million this season.

One of the team's owners, Jerry Moyes' principal source of revenue, Swift Transportation is also in financial difficulty.

In February of 2009, three head coaches were relieved from their duties.

On February 1, 2009 Craig Hartsburg was fired as head coach of the Ottawa Senators following a 17-24-7 start to the season and was immediately replaced by Binghamton Senators head coach Cory Clouston.

On February 15, 2009, Dan Bylsma of the American Hockey League's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins was promoted to replace Michel Therrien of the Pittsburgh Penguins as interim head coach. Dan would later be announced as a permanent head coach of the team.

On February 23, 2009, the New York Rangers fired Tom Renney following an overtime loss and was replaced on the same day by The Sports Network analyst and former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach, John Tortorella.

In March, goaltender Martin Brodeur returned to the New Jersey Devils after a long injury. He became the winningest goaltender in league history, surpassing the record of Patrick Roy.

When the Montreal Canadiens were in danger of being eliminated from the playoffs, head coach Guy Carbonneau was also fired.

In April, the Columbus Blue Jackets qualified for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Carolina Hurricanes qualified for the playoffs for the first time since their 2006 Stanley Cup victory. The Ottawa Senators missed the playoffs for the first time in twelve seasons.

In an ironic twist, considering his injury woes of past seasons, Jordan Leopold played in all 64 games for the Colorado Avalanche.

Upon being traded to the Calgary Flames, Leopold played in all 19 remaining games for the Flames becoming the only NHL player to play 83 games of the 82 game 2008-2009 season.

On April 11, 2009, the Minnesota Wild's first head coach Jacques Lemaire was fired after missing the playoffs.

In May of 2009, it was revealed that the NHL had taken control of the Phoenix Coyotes from the start of the season and they had known of the financial difficulties of the team prior to the start of the 2008–09 season.

After owner Jerry Moyes petitioned the club into bankruptcy against the league's wishes, so as to sell the team to Jim Balsillie who plans to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario, the league challenged the right of Moyes to file for bankruptcy.

In the documents filed with the Phoenix bankruptcy court, the NHL stated that the league took official control of the team on November 14, 2008.

The league then began advancing money to the club from league revenues, and made a loan to the club in February 2009, for a combined estimated total of $44.5 million over the full season.

During the season, commissioner Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly had made a series of denials and obfuscations while firing the Coyotes CEO and laying off 18 Coyotes employees.

Moyes' documents filed with the court indicated that the team had lost $73 million over the last three years, and that the projected loss was $45 million for 2008–09.

On June 1, 2009, Jacques Martin became the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens when former coach Bob Gainey returned to his general manager status.

On June 3, 2009, Tony Granato was fired as the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

The next day, he was replaced by Joe Sacco, head coach of the Avs' top minor league affiliate the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL).

On June 9, 2009, despite Brent Sutter winning 51 games (a franchise record), he resigned as head coach of the New Jersey Devils after two first-round playoff losses due to family reasons.

One day later on June 10, 2009, Dave Tippett was fired as head coach of the Dallas Stars after missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-02 season, when Rick Wilson took over as coach.

Marc Crawford was named the new head coach for the 2009-10 season the next day.

On June 15, 2009, Todd Richards would be named the second head coach of the Minnesota Wild, three days after the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup over the Detroit Red Wings 4 games to 3.

Evgeni Malkin earned the Conn Smythe Trophy for becoming the most valuable player during the Stanley Cup Finals.

Tiebreaking procedures[]

In the event of a tie in points in the standings at the end of the season, ties are broken using the following The higher ranked team is the one with:

  1. The greater number of games won.
  1. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs.
  1. The greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season.

Statistical leaders[]

Scoring leaders[]

GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; +/– = Plus/Minus; PIM = Penalty Minutes

Player Team GP G A Pts +/– PIM
Malkin, EvgeniEvgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins 82 35 78 113 +17 80
Ovechkin, AlexanderAlexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals 79 56 54 110 +8 72
Crosby, SidneySidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins 76 33 70 103 +3 76
Datsyuk, PavelPavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings 81 32 65 97 +34 22
Parise, ZachZach Parise New Jersey Devils 82 45 49 94 +30 24
Kovalchuk, IlyaIlya Kovalchuk Atlanta Thrashers 79 43 48 91 -12 50
Getzlaf, RyanRyan Getzlaf Anaheim Ducks 81 25 66 91 +5 121
Iginla, JaromeJarome Iginla Calgary Flames 81 35 54 89 -2 37
Savard, MarcMarc Savard Boston Bruins 82 25 63 88 +25 70
Backstrom, NicklasNicklas Backstrom Washington Capitals 82 22 66 88 +16 46

Leading goaltenders[]

GP = Games Played; TOI = Time On Ice (minutes); W = Wins; L = Losses; OT = Overtime/Shootout Losses; GA = Goals Against; SO = Shutouts; Sv% = Save Percentage; GAA = Goals Against Average

Player Team GP TOI W L OT GA SO Sv% GAA
Thomas, TimTim Thomas Boston Bruins 54 3,258:49 36 11 7 114 5 .933 2.10
Mason, SteveSteve Mason Columbus Blue Jackets 60 3,604:58 33 19 7 135 10 .917 2.25
Backstrom, NiklasNiklas Backstrom Minnesota Wild 71 4,088:03 37 24 8 159 8 .923 2.33
Hiller, JonasJonas Hiller Anaheim Ducks 45 2,446:26 23 15 1 95 4 .920 2.33
Luongo, RobertoRoberto Luongo Vancouver Canucks 54 3,181:05 33 13 7 124 9 .920 2.34
Rinne, PekkaPekka Rinne Nashville Predators 52 2,999:12 29 15 4 119 7 .917 2.38
Khabibulin, NikolaiNikolai Khabibulin Chicago Blackhawks 41 2,407:15 24 8 7 96 2 .917 2.39
Clemmensen, ScottScott Clemmensen New Jersey Devils 40 2,355:56 25 13 1 94 2 .917 2.39
Nabokov, EvgeniEvgeni Nabokov San Jose Sharks 61 3,627:35 41 11 8 146 7 .911 2.41
Lundqvist, HenrikHenrik Lundqvist New York Rangers 69 4,092:46 37 25 7 165 3 .916 2.42


See 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Playoff seeds[]

After the regular season, the standard of 16 teams qualified for the playoffs. The San Jose Sharks won the Presidents' Trophy for having the best record in the league, at 117 points.

Division champions maintain their relative ranking during the entire playoffs while the remaining teams get reseeded below them after each round.

Eastern Conference[]

  1. Boston BruinsNortheast Division and Eastern Conference regular season champions, 116 points
  2. Washington CapitalsSoutheast Division champions, 108 points
  3. New Jersey DevilsAtlantic Division champions, 106 points
  4. Pittsburgh Penguins – 99 points (45 wins)
  5. Philadelphia Flyers – 99 points (44 wins)
  6. Carolina Hurricanes – 97 points
  7. New York Rangers – 95 points
  8. Montreal Canadiens – 93 points*

*Montreal finished with exactly the same record as the Florida Panthers (including number of wins), but garnered more points (the Canadiens with six, the Panthers with three) in the four game season series between them, to earn the 8th spot.

Western Conference[]

  1. San Jose SharksPacific Division champions and Western Conference regular season champions; President's Trophy winners, 117 points
  2. Detroit Red WingsCentral Division champions, 112 points
  3. Vancouver CanucksNorthwest Division champions, 100 points
  4. Chicago Blackhawks – 104 points
  5. Calgary Flames – 98 points
  6. St. Louis Blues – 92 points (10 points head-to-head)
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets – 92 points (3 points head-to-head)
  8. Anaheim Ducks – 91 points

NHL awards[]

Presidents' Trophy: San Jose Sharks
Prince of Wales Trophy: Pittsburgh Penguins
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl: Detroit Red Wings
Art Ross Trophy: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: Steve Sullivan, Nashville Predators
Calder Memorial Trophy: Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets
Conn Smythe Trophy: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Frank J. Selke Trophy: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Hart Memorial Trophy: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Jack Adams Award: Claude Julien, Boston Bruins
James Norris Memorial Trophy: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
King Clancy Memorial Trophy: Ethan Moreau, Edmonton Oilers
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Lester B. Pearson Award: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
NHL Plus/Minus Award: David Krejci, Boston Bruins
Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
Vezina Trophy: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
William M. Jennings Trophy: Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez, Boston Bruins
Lester Patrick Trophy: Mark Messier, Mike Richter and Jim Devellano
NHL Lifetime Achievement Award: Jean Beliveau

NHL All Star Team[]

First All-Star Team

Second All-Star Team

NHL All-Rookie team[]



First games[]

The following is a list of players of note that played their first NHL game in 2008–09, listed with their first team:

Last games[]

The following is a list of players of note that played their last NHL game in 2008–09, listed with their last team: