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1981–82 NHL season

1981–82 NHL season

The 1981–82 NHL season was the 65th season of the National Hockey League. The William M. Jennings Trophy made its debut this year as the trophy for the goaltenders from the team with the fewest goals against, thus replacing the Vezina Trophy in that qualifying criteria. The Vezina Trophy would thereafter be awarded to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position. The New York Islanders won their third straight Stanley Cup by sweeping the Vancouver Canucks in four games.

1981–82 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 6, 1981 – May 16, 1982
Number of games80
Number of teams21
Top draft pickDale Hawerchuk
Picked byWinnipeg Jets
Regular season
Season championsNew York Islanders
Season MVPWayne Gretzky (Oilers)
Top scorerWayne Gretzky (Oilers)
Playoffs MVPMike Bossy (Islanders)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsNew York Islanders
  Runners-upVancouver Canucks

League business

Prior to the start of the season, the divisions of the league were re-aligned to reduce travel costs. The Patrick Division, which had heretofore been in the Clarence Campbell Conference, switched to the Prince of Wales Conference, while the Norris Division went the other way, going from the Wales Conference to the Campbell Conference. This divisional alignment existed until the 1993–94 season, at which point both the divisions and the conferences of the league were renamed to reflect geography.

The schedule and playoff format were also altered. Previously, each team played every other team four times, and the 16-team playoff format had the four divisional champions joined by 12 wild-cards; for all intents and purposes, the divisions were meaningless. Also, under the old format, teams were paired in the first round based on record (i.e., 1st vs. 16th, 2nd vs. 15th, etc.), and then re-paired in each succeeding round based on record (i.e., highest seeded first round winner vs. lowest seeded first round winner, second highest first round winner vs. second lowest first round winner, etc.)

The new format called for each team in the three five-team divisions to play their four divisional opponents eight times each (32 games) and the remaining 16 league teams three times each (48 games). In addition, each team in the six-team division was to play their five divisional opponents seven times each (35 games) and the remaining 15 league teams three times each (45 games). As to the playoffs, the top four teams in each division qualified — no more wild-cards — with 1st Place playing 4th Place, and 2nd Place playing 3rd Place, in the divisional semifinals; the two winners meeting in the divisional finals; followed by the respective conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals. With the exception of the first round changing from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven in 1987, this schedule and playoff arrangement continued until 1993.

Beginning with this season, the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Campbell Bowl were awarded to the Wales Conference (after 1993; Eastern Conference) playoffs champion and the Campbell Conference (after 1993; Western Conference) playoffs champion, respectively.

Regular season

The New York Islanders led the league with 118 points, seven more than second place Edmonton Oilers. The Islanders also set a league record by winning 15 consecutive games from January 21 to February 20 although this was later eclipsed by the Pittsburgh Penguins' 17-game winning streak[1] from March 9 to April 10, 1993. However, the Islanders 15-game winning streak was accomplished before the advent of the extra OT period in the NHL regular season. The Penguins would need to win 2 of their games in the OT period (in games 2 and 15) and would not have accomplished their streak in 1982 without the extra period, as two of their games would have ended in a tie.

The Edmonton Oilers' young superstar Wayne Gretzky broke several records, including the record of 50 goals in 50 games, set by Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy, by scoring 50 goals in only 39 games. Gretzky also broke Phil Esposito's record of 76 goals in a season with 92, his own assists record of 109 which was set the prior season with 120, and his own point total of 164 which was also set the prior season with 212. He was the first, and thus far only, player to ever score 200 points in a season. The Oilers set a record for most goals in a season with 417, in which Gretzky scored or assisted on over half.

The New York Islanders' Mike Bossy set a regular season scoring record for right-wingers with 147 points in an 80 game season, and finished as runner-up to Gretzky for the Art Ross Trophy.

This was the final season of the Colorado Rockies before moving to New Jersey to become the Devils. NHL play would return to Colorado in 1995, when the Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup after moving from Quebec.

The Winnipeg Jets completed one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in league history as the Jets went from nine wins and 32 points in 1980-81 to 33 wins and 80 points.

The Philadelphia Flyers become the first team to wear long pants. The idea was to create a more streamlined uniform with lighter padding, thus making the players faster.[2] The downside was that the players hit the boards faster after being bodychecked.[2]

Final standings

Note: GP = Games played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalties in minutes

Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold

Prince of Wales Conference

Adams Division
Montreal Canadiens804617173602231463109
Boston Bruins80432710323285126696
Buffalo Sabres80392615307273142593
Quebec Nordiques80333116356345175782
Hartford Whalers80214118264351149360
Patrick Division
New York Islanders80541610385250118
New York Rangers8039271431630692
Philadelphia Flyers8038311132531387
Pittsburgh Penguins8031361331033775
Washington Capitals8026411331933865

Clarence Campbell Conference

Norris Division
Minnesota North Stars8037232034628894
Winnipeg Jets8033331431933280
St. Louis Blues803240831534972
Chicago Black Hawks8030381233236372
Toronto Maple Leafs8020441629838056
Detroit Red Wings8021471227035154
Smythe Division
Edmonton Oilers80481715417295111
Vancouver Canucks8030331729028677
Calgary Flames8029341733434575
Los Angeles Kings8024411531436963
Colorado Rockies8018491324136249


Playoff bracket

Division SemifinalsDivision FinalsConference FinalsStanley Cup Finals
Prince of Wales Conference
P1NY Islanders4
P1NY Islanders3
P1NY Islanders4
P2NY Rangers2
P2NY Rangers3
P1NY Islanders4
N3St. Louis2
N3St. Louis3
Clarence Campbell Conference
S4Los Angeles3
S4Los Angeles1

The 1982 playoffs used a new format. Four teams from each division would qualify for the playoffs, and played a best-of-five semifinal round followed by a best-of-seven series to determine the division playoff champions. The Adams and Patrick winners would meet in the Wales Conference Final, while the Norris and Smythe winners played in the Campbell Conference Final. The two Conference Champions played for the Stanley Cup. With the exception of extending the first round to a best-of-seven in 1987, this format remained in place through the 1993 playoffs.

The first round of the 1982 playoffs saw three first-place teams (Edmonton, Minnesota, and Montreal) upset by fourth-place teams, a round which featured what is still the greatest comeback in NHL history: The Kings' 6–5 win over Edmonton in game three. After trailing 5–0 after two periods, the Kings scored five third period goals—three in the last 5:22, the final goal coming with only five seconds left in regulation. Los Angeles then scored on a face-off early in overtime, thus completing the "Miracle on Manchester".

The eventual champion New York Islanders nearly lost in the first round as well, dropping games three and four of their first round playoff series with Pittsburgh after crushing the Penguins in the first two games. In game five, the Islanders scored twice in the last five minutes to force overtime and then won the series on John Tonelli's goal 6:19 into the extra session. This served as a wake-up call for New York, who lost only two more games the rest of the way as they rolled to their third straight Stanley Cup. Their Final opponents, the Vancouver Canucks, finished the regular season with only 77 points, defeating three teams beneath them in the standings (Calgary 75, Los Angeles 63, and Chicago 72) in the much weaker Campbell Conference.

Stanley Cup Finals

New York won series 4–0


From this season forward, the Prince of Wales and Clarence S. Campbell trophies were given to the playoff champions of the respective conferences.

1982 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Wales Conference champion)
New York Islanders
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(Campbell Conference champion)
Vancouver Canucks
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Glenn Resch, Colorado Rockies
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
Dale Hawerchuk, Winnipeg Jets
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Mike Bossy, New York Islanders
Frank J. Selke Trophy:
(Best defensive forward)
Steve Kasper, Boston Bruins
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Jack Adams Award:
(Best coach)
Tom Watt, Winnipeg Jets
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Doug Wilson, Chicago Black Hawks
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Rick Middleton, Boston Bruins
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
NHL Plus/Minus Award:
(Player with best plus/minus record)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
William M. Jennings Trophy:
(Goaltender(s) of team(s) with best goaltending record)
Rick Wamsley, Denis Herron, Montreal Canadiens
Vezina Trophy:
(Best goaltender)
Billy Smith, New York Islanders
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
Emile Francis

All-Star teams

First Team  Position  Second Team
Billy Smith, New York IslandersGGrant Fuhr, Edmonton Oilers
Doug Wilson, Chicago Black HawksDPaul Coffey, Edmonton Oilers
Ray Bourque, Boston BruinsDBrian Engblom, Montreal Canadiens
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton OilersCBryan Trottier, New York Islanders
Mike Bossy, New York IslandersRWRick Middleton, Boston Bruins
Mark Messier, Edmonton OilersLWJohn Tonelli, New York Islanders

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points

Wayne GretzkyEdmonton Oilers8092120212
Mike BossyNew York Islanders806483147
Peter StastnyQuebec Nordiques804693139
Dennis MarukWashington Capitals806076136
Bryan TrottierNew York Islanders805079129
Denis SavardChicago Black Hawks803287119
Marcel DionneLos Angeles Kings785067117
Bobby SmithMinnesota North Stars804371114
Dino CiccarelliMinnesota North Stars765551106
Dave TaylorLos Angeles Kings783967106

Source: NHL.[4]

Leading goaltenders

Denis HerronMontreal2715476832.64
Rick WamsleyMontreal38220610122.75
Billy SmithNew York Islanders46268513302.97
Roland MelansonNew York Islanders44246010913.23
Grant FuhrEdmonton48284715703.31
Richard BrodeurVancouver52301016823.35
Marco BaronBoston44251514413.44
Gilles MelocheMinnesota51302617513.47
Don EdwardsBuffalo62350020503.51
Eddie MioNew York Rangers2515008903.56


Patrick Division

  • New York Islanders: Al Arbour

  • New York Rangers: Herb Brooks

  • Philadelphia Flyers: Pat Quinn and Bob McCammon

  • Pittsburgh Penguins: Eddie Johnston

  • Washington Capitals: Danny Belisle

Adams Division

  • Boston Bruins: Gerry Cheevers

  • Buffalo Sabres: Jimmy Roberts

  • Hartford Whalers: Larry Pleau

  • Montreal Canadiens: Bob Berry

  • Quebec Nordiques: Michel Bergeron

Norris Division

  • Chicago Black Hawks: Keith Magnuson and Bob Pulford

  • Detroit Red Wings: Wayne Maxner

  • Minnesota North Stars: Glen Sonmor

  • St. Louis Blues: Red Berenson

  • Toronto Maple Leafs: Mike Nykoluk

  • Winnipeg Jets: Tom Watt

Smythe Division

  • Calgary Flames: Al MacNeil

  • Colorado Rockies: Bill MacMillan

  • Edmonton Oilers: Glen Sather

  • Los Angeles Kings: Parker MacDonald

  • Vancouver Canucks: Harry Neale and Roger Neilson



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1981–82 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

  • Jiri Bubla, Vancouver Canucks

  • Garth Butcher, Vancouver Canucks

  • Bob Carpenter, Washington Capitals

  • Gaetan Duchesne, Washington Capitals

  • Ron Francis, Hartford Whalers

  • Grant Fuhr, Edmonton Oilers

  • Randy Gregg*, Edmonton Oilers

  • Dale Hawerchuk, Winnipeg Jets

  • Ivan Hlinka, Vancouver Canucks

  • Tim Hunter, Calgary Flames

  • Pelle Lindbergh, Philadelphia Flyers

  • Al MacInnis, Calgary Flames

  • Mike Vernon, Calgary Flames

  • Bernie Nicholls, Los Angeles Kings

  • Marian Stastny, Quebec Nordiques

  • Thomas Steen, Winnipeg Jets

  • Tony Tanti, Chicago Black Hawks

  • John Vanbiesbrouck, New York Rangers

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1981–82 (listed with their last team):

  • Don Marcotte, Boston Bruins

  • Dick Redmond, Boston Bruins

  • Rogie Vachon, Boston Bruins

  • Yvon Lambert, Buffalo Sabres

  • Bill Clement, Calgary Flames

  • Bob Murdoch, Calgary Flames

  • Eric Vail, Detroit Red Wings

  • Dave Keon, Hartford Whalers

  • Paul Shmyr, Hartford Whalers

  • Rick Martin, Los Angeles Kings

  • Steve Vickers, New York Rangers

  • Bob Dailey, Philadelphia Flyers

  • Jimmy Watson, Philadelphia Flyers

  • Gregg Sheppard, Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Ron Stackhouse, Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Don Luce, Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Rene Robert, Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Bob Kelly, Washington Capitals

  • Jean Pronovost, Washington Capitals

1982 Trading deadline trades

Trading Deadline: March 9, 1982[6]

  • March 8, 1982: Laurie Boschman traded from Toronto to Edmonton for Walt Poddubny and Phil Drouillard.

  • March 8, 1982: Kari Eloranta traded from Calgary to St. Louis for future considerations.

  • March 8, 1982: Jim Korn traded from Detroit to Toronto for Toronto's fourth-round choice in 1982 NHL Entry Draft (Craig Coxe) and Toronto's fifth-round choice in 1983 NHL Entry Draft (Joe Kocur).

  • March 9, 1982: Todd Bidner traded from Washington to Edmonton for Doug Hicks.

  • March 9, 1982: Ed Cooper traded from Colorado to Edmonton for Stan Weir.

  • March 9, 1982: Tony Currie, Jim Nill, Rick Heinz and St. Louis' fourth-round choice in 1982 Entry Draft (Shawn Kilroy) traded from St. Louis to Vancouver for Glen Hanlon.

  • March 9, 1982: Miroslav Frycer and Quebec's seventh-round choice in 1982 Entry Draft (Jeff Triano) traded from Quebec to Toronto for Wilf Paiement.

  • March 9, 1982: Guy Lapointe traded from Montreal to St. Louis for St. Louis' second-round choice in 1983 Entry Draft (Sergio Momesso).

See also

  • List of Stanley Cup champions

  • 1981 NHL Entry Draft

  • 34th National Hockey League All-Star Game

  • National Hockey League All-Star Game

  • 1981 Canada Cup

  • 1981 in sports

  • 1982 in sports


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