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The 2011-12 NHL season was the 95th season of operation (94th season of play) of the National Hockey League (NHL).

The Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final four games to two to win the team's first Stanley Cup (in their second Stanley Cup final; they had lost to Montreal Canadiens in the 1993 Finals).

During the off-season, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba to become the Winnipeg Jets.

It was the first NHL team relocation since the 1997–98 NHL season when the Hartford Whalers relocated to become the Carolina Hurricanes.

The league did not change its divisional structure to accommodate the move and the Jets took the place of the Thrashers in the Southeast Division.

In December of 2011, the board of governors eventually approved a proposed realignment for the following season which would result in four conferences with the first two rounds of the playoffs being divisional, but this was rejected by the NHL Player's Association.

It was the fifth consecutive season with games in Europe at the start of the season.

The 2011 NHL Winter Classic was held on January 2, 2012 in Philadelphia between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers.

The 59th NHL All-Star Game was held at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario, the home arena of the Ottawa Senators on January 29, 2012.

League BusinessEdit

Franchise RelocationEdit

Atlanta Spirit, LLC (which previously owned the Atlanta Thrashers) sold the team to True North Sports and Entertainment who relocated them to the True North-owned MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba and renamed the Winnipeg Jets, after a previous NHL team in the market.

Winnipeg took Atlanta's place in the Southeast Division for 2011–12.

Salary CapEdit

On June 23, 2011, the NHL announced that the salary cap would be increased by $4.9 million.

As a result, the new salary cap ceiling was set at $64.3 million while the salary cap floor was $48.3 million.

Uniform ChangesEdit

Several teams announced plans to change their uniforms in the 2011–12 season.

The Edmonton Oilers unveiled a new away uniform parallel to their 'retro' home uniform used from 1979-96. They retained the navy blue, copper and red uniforms as the alternates.

The Nashville Predators unveiled new home and away uniforms on June 22, complete with the updated saber-toothed cat logo.

Their use of gold as the home colors marked the first time since 1988 that an NHL team wore gold in their home uniforms.

The Florida Panthers made minor changes to their home uniform, using red as the primary and relegating navy blue as a trim color.

The Los Angeles Kings returned to the silver and black motif they used from 1988 to 1998 by designating their alternate home black and silver uniform as a regular uniform and unveiling a new white away uniform with black and silver trim. The purple and black uniform were retained as an alternate uniform.

The Ottawa Senators unveiled a new alternate home uniform based on the original Senators barber pole design.

The uniform does not use the Roman centurion logo, instead using an outlined 'O' on stripes. The Senators' uniform will also have an All-Star Game patch.

The Pittsburgh Penguins promoted their dark blue uniforms, worn during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic, as the home alternates, replacing the 2008 NHL Winter Classic alternates.

The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled new home and road uniforms, featuring the simplified lightning logo.

Originally the uniforms were simply blue and white, but by popular demand, black was added as a trim color to the uniform numbers and added the lightning bolt to the pants. The 'Bolts' alternate home uniform was retained.

The Toronto Maple Leafs unveiled a new alternate home uniform based on the Leafs uniforms worn during their run to the 1967 Stanley Cup title, including the 11-point maple leaf logo.

The Washington Capitals also promoted their 2011 NHL Winter Classic retro uniforms as their road alternates.

The new Winnipeg Jets unveiled uniforms consisting of navy with silver and light blue trim, containing a logo based on the roundel of the Royal Canadian Air Force; these were significantly different from, but in a similar color scheme to, the original Jets uniforms.

The New York Islanders unveiled a new black alternate uniform, featuring the team name above the player's number, a similar template the Dallas Stars' uniforms currently use.

Speaking of the Stars, they officially retired their alternate away jersey featuring the team crest, instead using their regular away jerseys with the city name and number in front for all 41 road games.

The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers wore special commemorative uniforms for the 2012 NHL Winter Classic.

The Flyers unveiled theirs on November 21, and is in a classic sweater design in orange featuring black numbers and different striping patterns on the yoke.

The Rangers unveiled theirs on November 28, and features a mix of designs used from previous jerseys. The shield logo in front is a variation of the logos used during the 1930s–1940s, while the shoulder, arm and tail striping was taken from the current jersey.

Both teams would wear their Winter Classic uniforms again on February 5 and 11 at Madison Square Garden and Wells Fargo Center respectively, with the away team wearing the regular uniforms.

In addition several teams sported memorial patches throughout the season; many of these memorials were for related events unless specified, the patches were seen on the team helmets:

  • Anaheim Ducks: Ruslan Salei (24) memorial on uniforms
  • Calgary Flames: Harley Hotchkiss (HH) memorial
  • Carolina Hurricanes: Josef Vasicek (63) memorial; worn on uniforms
  • Dallas Stars: Karlis Skrastins (37) memorial
  • Detroit Red Wings: Brad McCrimmon, Ruslan Salei and Stefan Liv (BM·RS·SL) memorial; worn on uniforms
  • Minnesota Wild: Pavol Demitra (38) and Derek Boogaard (24) memorials
  • Nashville Predators: Wade Belak (3) memorial
  • New York Islanders: 40th anniversary of the franchise; worn on uniforms
  • New York Rangers: Derek Boogaard (94) memorial
  • Vancouver Canucks: Rick Rypien (37) memorial
  • Winnipeg Jets: Rick Rypien (RR) memorial
  • St. Louis Blues: Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev (38) memorial

Furthermore, a new league-wide rule required that player numbers be displayed on the front of their helmets, as well as on the back.

Even though the New Jersey Devils and the Phoenix Coyotes unveiled anniversary logos commemorating their 30th and 15th anniversaries of their respective relocations from Colorado and Winnipeg, they opted not to use them on their uniforms or helmets.

Rule ChangesEdit

BoardingEdit

Prior to the 2011–12 NHL season, the Board of Governors unanimously agreed to update and re-word rule 41 involving boarding penalties.

The new wording requires the player delivering the check to avoid or minimize contact if the opponent is defenseless.

Illegal hits to the headEdit

The Board of Governors also approved an update to rule 48 involving illegal checks to the head.

The new rule will penalize all hits where the head is the principal point of contact.

The previous version of this rule only made checks from the blindside illegal. However, determination if the check is legal will depend on various factors including whether or not the player put himself in a vulnerable position or if the hit was unavoidable.

A two-minute minor penalty, or a major penalty in the event the hit was deemed to be deliberate with intent to injure, may be assessed.

Off-SeasonEdit

Three young (under 40) "enforcer"-type players died within a four month span during the off-season.

The deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak lead to speculation about the effect of fighting on the mental health of players.

Several former NHL players died in the 2011 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash involving the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team in Russia.

Those who perished in the plane crash included NHL All-Star Pavol Demitra, Alexander Karpovtsev, Igor Korolev, Brad McCrimmon, Karel Rachunek, Ruslan Salei, Karlis Skrastins and Josef Vasicek.

Pre-SeasonEdit

Exhibition Games in EuropeEdit

The four teams going to Europe to open their regular seasons there as part of the NHL Premiere games also played exhibition games against European teams under the banner of NHL Premiere Challenge to close out their pre-seasons.

The NHL teams had an overall record of 6–1–0 against the European teams, with the New York Rangers, playing four games in five days in four countries, having a record of 3–1–0.

Date City NHL team European team Score
September 29 Prague, Czech Republic New York Rangers HC Sparta Praha 2–0
September 30 Gothenburg, Sweden New York Rangers Frölunda HC 4–2
October 2 Bratislava, Slovakia New York Rangers HC Slovan Bratislava 4–1
October 3 Zug, Switzerland New York Rangers EV Zug 4–8
October 4 Helsinki, Finland Anaheim Ducks Helsinki Jokerit 4–3 OT
October 4 Hamburg, Germany Los Angeles Kings Hamburg Freezers 5–4
October 4 Mannheim, Germany Buffalo Sabres Adler Mannheim 8–3

Regular SeasonEdit

Premiere GamesEdit

Four teams participated in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere in Europe.

The Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers made their second trip to Europe while the Buffalo Sabres made its first trip.

On October 7, 2011, Anaheim played Buffalo at Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, Finland and Los Angeles faced New York at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.

All four teams played again on October 8 with Los Angeles against Buffalo at the O2 World Arena in Berlin, Germany and Anaheim against New York in Stockholm, Sweden.

Thanksgiving ShowdownEdit

As part of the league's updated television contract, the NHL debuted the Thanksgiving Showdown (which is a nationally broadcast game) on the day after American Thanksgiving in 2011.

The game (which was sponsored by Discover) featured the Boston Bruins (who have traditionally hosted Black Friday matinees since 1990) hosting the Detroit Red Wings, with Detroit winning the game in a shootout, 3–2.

2012 NHL Winter ClassicEdit

The 2012 NHL Winter Classic was held at the Citizens Bank Park baseball stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Monday, January 2, 2012.

This season, the Philadelphia Flyers hosted the New York Rangers.

It was the first Winter Classic game for the Rangers and the second for the Flyers. The result of the game was a 3–2 Ranger victory.

Philadelphia last played in the 2010 NHL Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Bruins won that game in overtime by a score of 2–1 on a goal scored by Marco Sturm.

This was the first time that the Winter Classic was not played on New Year's Day, which fell on a Sunday in 2012.

If the Winter Classic was held on New Year's Day, it would have conflicted with the final game of the National Football League (NFL) season (in which the Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Washington Redskins at nearby Lincoln Financial Field), and the annual Mummers Parade in downtown Philadelphia.

The Flyers–Rangers rivalry is one of the NHL's most frequently televised rivalries on U.S. television networks.

It was televised three times nationally on NBC in 2011–12, including the inaugural "Hockey Day in America."

There was no Heritage Classic was played this season.

NHL AwardsEdit

The 2012 NHL Awards ceremony was held in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 20, 2012.

The finalists for voted awards were announced during the playoffs and winners are presented at the award ceremony.

The voting concluded immediately after the end of the regular NHL season.

The President's Trophy, the Prince of Wales Trophy and Campbell Bowls are not presented at the awards ceremony.

The Lester Patrick is announced during the summer and presented in the fall.

2011–12 NHL awards
Award Recipient(s) Finalists
Stanley Cup Los Angeles Kings New Jersey Devils
Presidents' Trophy
(Best regular-season record)
Vancouver Canucks New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues
Prince of Wales Trophy
(Eastern Conference champion)
New Jersey Devils New York Rangers
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl
(Western Conference champion)
Los Angeles Kings Phoenix Coyotes
Art Ross Trophy
(Top scorer)
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
(Perseverance, Sportsmanship, and Dedication)
Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens) Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators)
Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens)
Calder Memorial Trophy
(Best first-year player)
Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche) Adam Henrique (New Jersey Devils)
Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers)
Conn Smythe Trophy
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings)
Frank J. Selke Trophy
(Defensive forward)
Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins) David Backes (St. Louis Blues)
Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)
Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings)
Hart Memorial Trophy
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Jack Adams Award
(Best coach)
Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis Blues) Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis Blues)
Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators)
John Tortorella (New York Rangers)
James Norris Memorial Trophy
(Best defenseman)
Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators) Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins)
Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators)
Shea Weber (Nashville Predators)
King Clancy Memorial Trophy
(Leadership and humanitarian contribution)
Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators)
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
(Sportsmanship and excellence)
Brian Campbell (Florida Panthers) Brian Campbell (Florida Panthers)
Jordan Eberle (Edmonton Oilers)
Matt Moulson (New York Islanders)
Ted Lindsay Award
(Outstanding player)
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Mark Messier Leadership Award
(Leadership and community activities)
Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes) Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings)
Ryan Callahan (New York Rangers)
Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes)
Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
(Top goal-scorer)
Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning)
NHL Foundation Player Award
(Award for community enrichment)
Mike Fisher (Nashville Predators) Mike Fisher (Nashville Predators)
John-Michael Liles (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Matt Moulson (New York Islanders)
NHL General Manager of the Year Award
(Top general manager)
Doug Armstrong (St. Louis Blues) Doug Armstrong (St. Louis Blues)
David Poile (Nashville Predators)
Dale Tallon (Florida Panthers)
Vezina Trophy
(Best goaltender)
Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)
Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings)
Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators)
William M. Jennings Trophy
(Goaltender(s) of team with fewest goals against)
Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak (St. Louis Blues)
Lester Patrick Trophy
(Service to ice hockey in U.S.)
Dick Patrick and Bob Chase-Wallenstein

NHL All-Star TeamEdit

  Position   First Team Second Team Position All-Rookie
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings G Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo Sabres
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins D Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes
D Shea Weber, Nashville Predators Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues D Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs
C Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning F Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
RW James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers F Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
LW Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils Ray Whitney, Phoenix Coyotes F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

Player StatisticsEdit

Scoring leadersEdit

The following players lead the league in points at the conclusion of the regular season

  • (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 75 50 59 109 +18 70
Stamkos, StevenSteven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning 82 60 37 97 +7 66
Giroux, ClaudeClaude Giroux Philadelphia Flyers 77 28 65 93 +6 29
Spezza, JasonJason Spezza Ottawa Senators 80 34 50 84 +11 36
Kovalchuk, IlyaIlya Kovalchuk New Jersey Devils 77 37 46 83 −9 33
Kessel, PhilPhil Kessel Toronto Maple Leafs 82 37 45 82 −10 20
Neal, JamesJames Neal Pittsburgh Penguins 80 40 41 81 +6 87
Tavares, JohnJohn Tavares New York Islanders 82 31 50 81 −6 26
Sedin, HenrikHenrik Sedin Vancouver Canucks 82 14 67 81 +23 52
Elias, PatrikPatrik Elias New Jersey Devils 81 26 52 78 −8 16

Leading goaltendersEdit

The following goaltenders led the league in goals against average at the end of the regular season while playing at least 1800 minutes.

  • (GP = Games played; Min = Minutes played; W = Wins; L = Losses; OT = Overtime/shootout losses; GA = Goals against; SO = Shutouts; SV% = Save percentage; GAA = Goals against average)
Player Team GP Min W L OT GA SO SV% GAA
Elliott, BrianBrian Elliott St. Louis Blues 38 2234:35 23 10 4 58 9 .940 1.56
Quick, JonathanJonathan Quick Los Angeles Kings 69 4099:26 35 21 13 133 10 .929 1.95
Schneider, CoryCory Schneider Vancouver Canucks 33 1832:50 20 8 1 60 3 .937 1.96
Lundqvist, HenrikHenrik Lundqvist New York Rangers 62 3753:30 39 18 5 123 8 .930 1.97
Halak, JaroslavJaroslav Halak St. Louis Blues 46 2746:37 26 12 7 90 6 .926 1.97
Howard, JimmyJimmy Howard Detroit Red Wings 57 3360:17 35 17 4 119 6 .920 2.13
Smith, MikeMike Smith Phoenix Coyotes 67 3903:12 38 18 10 144 8 .930 2.21
Giguere, Jean-SebastienJean-Sebastien Giguere Colorado Avalanche 32 1819:34 15 11 3 69 2 .919 2.27
Lehtonen, KariKari Lehtonen Dallas Stars 59 3496:49 32 22 4 136 4 .922 2.33
Kiprusoff, MiikkaMiikka Kiprusoff Calgary Flames 70 4128:00 35 22 11 162 4 .921 2.35

MilestonesEdit

  • On October 6, 2011, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr recorded his 1,600th NHL point. He became the ninth player in league history to reach this milestone.
  • On October 20, 2011, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On October 21, 2011, San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On October 22, 2011, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom participated in his 1,500th NHL game. He became the first European born (and 14th overall) player to play 1,500 NHL games.
  • On November 12, 2011, Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz and Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray both coached their 1,000th NHL games in separate contests. They became the 20th and 21st coaches in league history to reach this milestone.
  • On November 16, 2011, New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On November 25, 2011, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Vaclav Prospal participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On December 8, 2011, Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa recorded his 400th career goal.
  • On December 18, 2011, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville won his 600th game as an NHL coach. He became the tenth coach in league history to reach this milestone. He became the second fastest coach in league history to reach the milestone in 1,113 games (Scotty Bowman, currently a Blackhawks senior advisor, did it in 1,002 games).
  • On December 20, 2011, Washington Capitals forward Mike Knuble participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On December 26, 2011, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward was credited with scoring a goal. He is the tenth goaltender to achieve this in league history.
  • On December 30, 2011, Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson recorded his 400th career goal.
  • On January 1, 2012, Calgary Flames forward Olli Jokinen participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On January 6, 2012, New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On January 7, 2012, Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla recorded his 500th career goal. He became the 42nd player in league history to reach this milestone.
  • On January 10, 2012, Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cullen participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On January 14, 2012, New York Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov recorded his 300th career win. He became the 26th goaltender in league history to reach this milestone.
  • On February 2, 2012, Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner registered eight points (four goals and four assists) in one game. He became the 13th player in league history to achieve this.
  • On February 8, 2012, Calgary Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff recorded his 300th career win. He became the 27th goaltender in league history to reach this milestone.
  • On February 9, 2012, Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On February 10, 2012, Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On February 14, 2012, the Detroit Red Wings set a new NHL record for consecutive home wins at 21 straight with a 3–1 win over the Dallas Stars. The previous record of 20 consecutive wins was originally set by the Boston Bruins in 1929–30 and tied by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975–76. The new record is 23 consecutive home wins.
  • On February 27, 2012, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist recorded his 30th win of the season, making him the only goaltender in NHL history to record seven consecutive 30-win seasons to begin his career.
  • On March 4, 2012, New Jersey Devils forward Petr Sykora participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On March 11, 2012, Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin scored his 500th career point.
  • On March 12, 2012, Anaheim Ducks forward Saku Koivu participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On March 20, 2012, New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk recorded his 400th career goal.
  • On March 24, 2012, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On March 25, 2012, Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On March 30, 2012, Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz won his 500th game as an NHL coach. He became the 17th coach in league history to reach this milestone.
  • On March 31, 2012, Phoenix Coyotes forward Ray Whitney recorded his 1,000th NHL point. He became the 79th player in league history to reach this milestone.
  • On April 5, 2012, New York Islanders defenseman Steve Staios participated in his 1,000th NHL game.
  • On April 7, 2012, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos scored his 60th goal of the season. He became the second player in the last 15 years to reach this milestone.
  • On April 7, 2012, Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin scored his 50th goal of the season.
  • On June 11, 2012, The Los Angeles Kings won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, becoming the first eighth seed to win the Cup.

First GamesEdit

Last GamesEdit