1956–57 NHL season

1956–57 NHL season
League National Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Duration October 11, 1956 – April 16, 1957
Number of games 70
Number of teams 6
Regular season
Season champion Detroit Red Wings
Season MVP Gordie Howe (Red Wings)
Top scorer Gordie Howe (Red Wings)
Stanley Cup
Champions Montreal Canadiens
  Runners-up Boston Bruins

The 1956–57 NHL season was the 40th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive season, defeating the Boston Bruins four games to one in the best-of-seven final series. The final game was won by a clutch goal from Montreal defenseman Tom Johnson, that clinch the Stanley Cup championship for the Canadiens 3-2.

Regular season

On October 1, it was announced that Dick Irvin had resigned as coach of Chicago due to ill health. He was suffering from bone cancer and had been ill for two years and had been hospitalized in Montreal. Irvin had been several days late to training camp. Tommy Ivan took over as coach. Later in the season, it was reported that Irvin had undergone minor surgery for anemia at Ross Memorial Hospital. Irvin died on May 15, 1957.

Ted Lindsay, Detroit's star left wing, became the fourth player to score 300 career goals on November 18, when he picked up two goals in an 8–3 pasting of the Montreal Canadiens. The other players to reach this prestigious mark were Nels Stewart, Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe (who played opposite Lindsay for most of the latter's career).

On January 5, the Rangers and the Black Hawks played an afternoon game at Madison Square Garden where the Rangers beat the Black Hawks 4–1. This game was broadcast on the Columbia Broadcast System network (CBS). Glen Skov spoiled Lorne "Gump" Worsley's would-be shutout with a goal in the third period.

Montreal beat Toronto 2–1 at the Forum in Montreal on January 10 and moved into first place. The game was hard-fought and referee Frank Udvari found it necessary to rule with an iron hand that angered the fans. Fans thought he was calling chippy penalties against the Habs and deliberately failing to call hooking and holding penalties by the Maple Leafs. The blow-off came in the last two minutes of the game. Maurice Richard received a high-sticking penalty. At 18:14, knowing his Maple Leafs were in danger, Toronto coach Howie Meeker pulled goaltender Ed Chadwick for six attackers. Dick Duff scored the tying goal, and Richard went berserk and commenced a heated argument with Udvari, banging his stick on the ice. He might have attacked Udvari if his teammates had not restrained him. Fans threw programmes, paper cups, hats and other debris and the game was held up. When it did resume, Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion set up Don Marshall for the winning goal with a mere six seconds left to play. Although the fans were pleased with the outcome, an angry hum commenced as the players and officials left the ice. Udvari had to be escorted to his dressing room by police and ushers. A large part of the crowd now directed its attention to NHL President Clarence Campbell seated in his box seat and he became the target of jeers and threats. The situation began to show some of the aspects of the Richard Riot of two years previous when Richard had been suspended for an attack on an official. It was at least 30 minutes before Campbell was able to leave under police protection.

Terry Sawchuk had been playing well and was a candidate for the Hart Trophy, when he came down with mononucleosis. He came back too soon and by January 16, he announced his retirement from hockey, a temporary one as he would be back in Detroit next season.

Glenn Hall was not as good as the previous season, but led the Detroit Red Wings to first place. Hall had played only two games prior to 1955–56, but had shown such promise Sawchuk was sent off.

Rule changes

At the start of this season, the NHL changed the way power plays work. Prior to this season, a team could score as many goals as they wanted in a two-minute power play with the penalised player remaining in the penalty box. The NHL changed it so that when a goal is scored on a two-minute power play, the power play finished. The reason for this was because the Montreal Canadiens were so dominant on the power play, the NHL needed a way of ensuring parity. The previous season saw the Canadiens score 26% of all the league's power play goals. Oddly enough, the number of power play goals league-wide actually increased from 251 to 265 after the rule changed. Montreal, though, scored 10 fewer power play goals.

Final standings

National Hockey League[1]
1Detroit Red Wings70382012198157+4188
2Montreal Canadiens70352312210155+5582
3Boston Bruins70342412195174+2180
4New York Rangers70263014184227−4366
5Toronto Maple Leafs70213415174192−1857
6Chicago Black Hawks70163915169225−5647


Playoff bracket

Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
1 Detroit 1
3 Boston 4
3 Boston 1
2 Montreal 4
2 Montreal 4
4 New York 1


(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (3) Boston Bruins

Boston won series 4–1

(2) Montreal Canadiens vs. (4) New York Rangers

Montreal won series 4–1

Stanley Cup Finals

Montreal won series 4–1


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)
Larry Regan, Boston Bruins
Hart Trophy:
(Most valuable player)
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Andy Hebenton, New York Rangers
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender of team with the best goals-against average)
Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens

All-Star teams

First team  Position  Second team
Glenn Hall, Detroit Red Wings G Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadiens
Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens D Fern Flaman, Boston Bruins
Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings D Bill Gadsby, New York Rangers
Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens C Ed Litzenberger, Chicago Black Hawks
Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings RW Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens
Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings LW Real Chevrefils, 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 HoweDetroit Red Wings7044458972
Ted LindsayDetroit Red Wings70305585103
Jean BeliveauMontreal Canadiens69335184105
Andy BathgateNew York Rangers7027507760
Ed LitzenbergerChicago Black Hawks7032326448
Maurice RichardMontreal Canadiens6333296274
Don McKenneyBoston Bruins6921396031
Dickie MooreMontreal Canadiens7029295856
Henri RichardMontreal Canadiens6318365471
Norm UllmanDetroit Red Wings6416365247


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 PlanteMontreal Canadiens6136601222.003118129
Glenn HallDetroit Red Wings7042001562.233820124
Terry SawchukBoston Bruins342040812.38181062
Don SimmonsBoston Bruins261560632.4213944
Ed ChadwickToronto Maple Leafs7042001862.662134155
Al RollinsChicago Black Hawks7040802223.171639153
Lorne WorsleyNew York Rangers6840802173.242628143



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1956–57 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1956–57 (listed with their last team):

See also


  • Coleman, Charles L. (1976), Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol III, Sherbrooke, QC: Progressive Publications 
  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (1994). Years of glory, 1942–1967: the National Hockey League's official book of the six-team era. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-2817-2. 
  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Hockey. Kingston, NY: Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-85-X. 
  • Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Toronto, ON: Dan Diamond & Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-22-5. 
  • Dryden, Steve, ed. (2000). Century of hockey. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. ISBN 0-7710-4179-9. 
  • Duplacey, James (2008), Hockey's Book of Firsts, North Dighton, MA: JG Press, ISBN 978-1-57215-037-9 
  • Fischler, Stan; Fischler, Shirley; Hughes, Morgan; Romain, Joseph; Duplacey, James (2003). The Hockey Chronicle: Year-by-Year History of the National Hockey League. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International Inc. ISBN 0-7853-9624-1. 
  • McFarlane, Brian (1969), 50 Years Of Hockey, Winnipeg, MAN: Greywood Publishing, ASIN B000GW45S0 
  • McFarlane, Brian (1973). The Story of the National Hockey League. New York, NY: Pagurian Press. ISBN 0-684-13424-1. 
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