1978–79 NHL season

Last updated
1978–79 NHL season
League National Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
DurationOctober 11, 1978 – May 21, 1979
Number of games80
Number of teams17
Draft
Top draft pick Bobby Smith
Picked by Minnesota North Stars
Regular season
Season champions New York Islanders
Season MVP Bryan Trottier (Islanders)
Top scorer Bryan Trottier (Islanders)
Playoffs
Playoffs MVP Bob Gainey (Canadiens)
Stanley Cup
Champions Montreal Canadiens
  Runners-up New York Rangers
NHL seasons
  1977–78
1979–80  

The 1978–79 NHL season was the 62nd season of the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens beat the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals four games to one for their fourth consecutive Cup. The Cleveland Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars (continuing as the North Stars), reducing the NHL membership to 17 teams; the last time that the NHL contracted (as of 2019). In the 1978–79 season, two of the "Original Six" teams met in the Finals, which would not occur again until 2013. The Boston Bruins joined the Canadiens and Rangers in the 1978–79 semifinals and marked the last appearance by three Original Six teams in the final four until 2014.

In an organized sports league, a typical season is the portion of one year in which regulated games of the sport are in session: for example, in Major League Baseball the season lasts approximately from April to October. In other team sports, like association football or basketball, it is generally from August or September to May although in some countries - such as Northern Europe or East Asia - the season starts in the spring and finishes in autumn, mainly due to weather conditions encountered during the winter.

National Hockey League North American professional ice hockey league

The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.

Montreal Canadiens National Hockey League team in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The Montreal Canadiens are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Contents

League business

This season saw the first reduction in the total number of teams since the Brooklyn Americans folded following the 1941–42 season. Fearing that two teams were on the verge of folding, the league approved the merger of the financially unstable Cleveland Barons and Minnesota North Stars franchises, reducing the number of teams to 17. The merged team continued as the Minnesota North Stars, but assumed the Barons' place in the Adams Division.

New York Americans ice hockey team

The New York Americans, colloquially known as the Amerks, were a professional ice hockey team based in New York City, New York from 1925 to 1942. They were the third expansion team in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the second to play in the United States. The team never won the Stanley Cup, but reached the semifinals twice. While it was the first team in New York City, it was eclipsed by the second, the New York Rangers, which arrived in 1926 under the ownership of the Amerks' landlord, Madison Square Garden. The team operated as the Brooklyn Americans during the 1941–42 season before suspending operations in 1942 due to World War II and long-standing financial difficulties. The demise of the club marked the beginning of the NHL's Original Six era from 1942 to 1967, though the Amerks' franchise was not formally canceled until 1946.

The 1941–42 NHL season was the 25th season of the National Hockey League. Seven teams played 48 games each. The Toronto Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup defeating the Detroit Red Wings winning four straight after losing the first three in a best-of-seven series, a feat only repeated three times in NHL history and once in Major League Baseball (2004) as of 2017.

Cleveland Barons (NHL) National Hockey League franchise (1976–1978)

The Cleveland Barons were a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1976 to 1978. They were a relocation of the California Golden Seals franchise that had played in Oakland since 1967. After just two seasons, the team merged with the Minnesota North Stars. As a result, the NHL operated with 17 teams during the 1978–79 season.

This reduction would only be temporary, however, as negotiations continued toward an agreement with the World Hockey Association that would see it fold following this season, with four of its teams joining the NHL as expansion franchises for 1979–80.

World Hockey Association defunct ice hockey major league from 1972 to 1979

The World Hockey Association was a professional ice hockey major league that operated in North America from 1972 to 1979. It was the first major league to compete with the National Hockey League (NHL) since the collapse of the Western Hockey League in 1926. Although the WHA was not the first league since that time to attempt to challenge the NHL's supremacy, it was by far the most successful in the modern era.

The 1979–80 NHL season was the 63rd season of the National Hockey League. This season saw the addition of four teams from the disbanded World Hockey Association as expansion franchises. The Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, New England Whalers, and Quebec Nordiques joined the NHL, bringing the total to 21 teams. The other two WHA teams were paid to disband.

For the first time since the NHL All-Star Game became an annual tradition, it was not played. In its stead was the 1979 Challenge Cup, which saw Soviet Union players come over to North America to play against NHL players. The Soviets won the series two games to one.

The National Hockey League All-Star Game is an exhibition ice hockey game that is traditionally held during the regular season of the National Hockey League (NHL), with many of the League's star players playing against each other. Each team plays with four players. The Game's proceeds benefit the pension fund of the players.

1979 Challenge Cup (ice hockey)

The 1979 Challenge Cup was a series of international ice hockey games between the Soviet Union national ice hockey team and a team of All-Stars from the National Hockey League. The games were played on February 8, 10, and 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It replaced the NHL's all-star festivities for the 1978–79 NHL season. The Soviets defeated the NHL All-Stars 2 games to 1.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Regular season

For the past three seasons, the Montreal Canadiens had dominated the regular season, but times were changing. The New York Islanders had been steadily improving over the past few seasons and this season saw them beat out the Canadiens by one point for the best record in the league.

New York Islanders hockey team of the National Hockey League

The New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team based in the New York metropolitan area. They are members of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team splits its home games between Barclays Center in the borough of Brooklyn and Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders are one of three NHL franchises in the New York metropolitan area, along with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, and their fan base resides primarily on Long Island.

This was the last season until the 2005–06 season that the St. Louis Blues missed the playoffs.

The 2005–06 NHL season was the 89th season of operation of the National Hockey League (NHL). This season succeeded the 2004–05 season which had all of its scheduled games canceled due to a labor dispute with the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) over the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the League and its players. The 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs began on April 21, 2006, and concluded on June 19, with the Carolina Hurricanes defeating the Edmonton Oilers to win their first Stanley Cup, after which the Oilers would miss the postseason ten consecutive times and the Hurricanes would miss 11 of their next 12.

Final standings

GP = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, PIM = Penalties In Minutes
Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold

Prince of Wales Conference

Adams Division
 GPWLTGFGAPTS
Boston Bruins 80432314316270100
Buffalo Sabres 8036281628026388
Toronto Maple Leafs 8034331326725281
Minnesota North Stars 8028401225728968

[1]

Norris Division
GPWLTGFGAPts
Montreal Canadiens 80521711337204115
Pittsburgh Penguins 8036311328127985
Los Angeles Kings 8034341229228680
Washington Capitals 8024411527333863
Detroit Red Wings 8023411625229562

[1]

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
       Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.

Clarence Campbell Conference

Patrick Division
 GPWLTGFGAPTS
New York Islanders 80511514358214116
Philadelphia Flyers 8040251528124895
New York Rangers 8040291131629291
Atlanta Flames 804131832728090
Smythe Division
GPWLTGFGAPTS
Chicago Black Hawks 8029361524427773
Vancouver Canucks 8025421321729163
St. Louis Blues 8018501224934848
Colorado Rockies 8015531221033142

[1]

Playoffs

Playoff seeds

The twelve teams that qualified for the playoffs are ranked 1–12 based on regular season points.

Note: Only teams that qualified for the playoffs are listed here.

  1. New York Islanders, Patrick Division champions, Clarence Campbell Conference regular season champions – 116 points
  2. Montreal Canadiens, Norris Division champions, Prince of Wales Conference regular season champions – 115 points
  3. Boston Bruins, Adams Division champions – 100 points
  4. Philadelphia Flyers – 95 points
  5. New York Rangers – 91 points
  6. Atlanta Flames – 90 points
  7. Buffalo Sabres – 88 points
  8. Pittsburgh Penguins – 85 points
  9. Toronto Maple Leafs – 81 points
  10. Los Angeles Kings – 80 points
  11. Chicago Black Hawks, Smythe Division champions – 73 points
  12. Vancouver Canucks – 63 points

Playoff bracket

 Preliminary RoundQuarterfinalsSemifinalsStanley Cup Finals
                   
    
 1NY Islanders4 
  8Chicago0 
   
    
 1NY Islanders2 
 4NY Rangers4 
1Philadelphia2 
8Vancouver1 
 4Philadelphia1
  5NY Rangers4 
2NY Rangers2
7Los Angeles0 
 2Montreal4
 4NY Rangers1
    
    
 2Montreal4
  7Toronto0 
3Atlanta0
6Toronto2 
 2Montreal4
 3Boston3 
    
    
 3Boston4
  6Pittsburgh0 
4Buffalo1
5Pittsburgh2 

Stanley Cup Finals

Prior to 2013, this was the last time two Original Six clubs met in the finals. Both teams would next appear in the Stanley Cup Finals: Canadiens winning in 1986 and 1993, Rangers winning in 1994.

Montreal won series 4–1

Awards

1979 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Wales Conference regular season champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(Campbell Conference regular season champion)
New York Islanders
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Bryan Trottier, New York Islanders
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Serge Savard, Montreal Canadiens
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Bobby Smith, Minnesota North Stars
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens
Frank J. Selke Trophy:
(Best defensive forward)
Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Bryan Trottier, New York Islanders
Jack Adams Award:
(Best coach)
Al Arbour, New York Islanders
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Denis Potvin, New York Islanders
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Bob MacMillan, Atlanta Flames
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender(s) of team(s) with best goaltending record)
Ken Dryden & Michel Larocque, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
Bobby Orr

All-Star teams

First team  Position  Second team
Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens G Glenn Resch, New York Islanders
Denis Potvin, New York Islanders D Borje Salming, Toronto Maple Leafs
Larry Robinson, Montreal Canadiens D Serge Savard, Montreal Canadiens
Bryan Trottier, New York Islanders C Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens RW Mike Bossy, New York Islanders
Clark Gillies, New York Islanders LW Bill Barber, Philadelphia Flyers

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points, PIM = Penalties In Minutes

PlayerTeamGPGAPtsPIM
Bryan Trottier New York Islanders76478713450
Marcel Dionne Los Angeles Kings80597113030
Guy Lafleur Montreal Canadiens80527712928
Mike Bossy New York Islanders80695712625
Bob MacMillan Atlanta Flames79377110814
Guy Chouinard Atlanta Flames80505710714
Denis Potvin New York Islanders73317010158
Bernie Federko St. Louis Blues7431649514
Dave Taylor Los Angeles Kings78434891124
Clark Gillies New York Islanders7535569168

Source: NHL. [2]

Leading goaltenders

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

PlayerTeamGPMINGAGAAWLTSO
Ken Dryden Montreal Canadiens4728141082.30301075
Chico Resch N.Y. Islanders4325391062.50267102
Bernie Parent Philadelphia Flyers361979892.70161274
Michel Larocque Montreal Canadiens341986942.8422743
Billy Smith N.Y. Islanders4022611082.8725841
Mike Palmateer Toronto Maple Leafs5833961672.952621104
Don Edwards Buffalo Sabres5431601593.02261892
Mario Lessard L.A. Kings4928601483.102315104
Glen Hanlon Vancouver Canucks311821943.10121353
Gerry Cheevers Boston Bruins4325091323.16239101

Other statistics

Plus-minus

Coaches

Patrick Division

Adams Division

Norris Division

Smythe Division

Milestones

Debuts

The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1978–79 (listed with their first team, asterisk (*) marks debut in playoffs):

Players marked with § began their major professional career in the World Hockey Association.

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1978–79 (listed with their last team):

See also

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References

Notes
  1. 1 2 3 National Hockey League Official Guide and Record Book 2006, p. 163, Dan Diamond & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, ISBN   0-920445-98-5
  2. Dinger 2011, p. 151.