1969–70 NHL season
|League||National Hockey League|
|Duration||October 11, 1969 – May 10, 1970|
|Number of games||76|
|Number of teams||12|
|Season champions||Chicago Black Hawks|
|Season MVP||Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)|
|Top scorer||Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)|
|Playoffs MVP||Bobby Orr (Boston Bruins)|
|Stanley Cup champions||Boston Bruins|
|Runners-up||St. Louis Blues|
The 1969–70 NHL season was the 53rd season of the National Hockey League. For the third straight season, the St. Louis Blues reached the Stanley Cup finals, and for the third straight year, the winners of the expansion Western Division were swept four games to none. This time, however, it was at the hands of the Boston Bruins, as the defending champions Montreal Canadiens narrowly missed the playoffs, something that would not happen again for the next quarter century. With the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens out, this meant that all participating teams in the 1970 playoffs were from the United States, the only time this has occurred as of 2012. It was also the final season that teams wore their colored jerseys at home until the 2003–04 season.
Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins became the first defenceman in NHL history to win the league scoring championship. He did it by setting a new record for assists with 87 and totalling 120 points, only six shy of the point record set the previous season by teammate Phil Esposito. Along the way, he also won the Norris Trophy for the third straight year as the top defenceman, the Hart Trophy for league MVP, and the Conn Smythe Trophy for the playoff MVP, being the only player in the NHL to win four individual awards.
Gordie Howe finished the season within the ten leading NHL point scorers for an all time record of 21 consecutive seasons; it was the final season he would do so.
For the third straight season, the St. Louis Blues easily won the West Division, being the only team in the division to have a winning record.
The East Division, however, saw a temporary changing of the guard, as Montreal dropped from first the previous season to fifth, missing the playoffs on the total goals scored tie-breaker with the New York Rangers. The Rangers were in first place for a time, but injuries on the blueline doomed any hope of a first place finish, and they even obtained Tim Horton in desperation. It would be the only season Montreal failed to make the playoffs between 1948 and 1995, and as the Toronto Maple Leafs also failed to make the postseason, this setup the only playoffs in NHL history (as of 2009) to feature no Canadian teams. These developments were instrumental in the decision to move Chicago to the West Division in conjunction with the 1970 expansion, and the adoption of "crossover" playoff series between East and West Division teams the following season. The division crossover kept the newer expansion teams out of the Stanley Cup final for the next three seasons.
The Bruins and the Black Hawks both tied for the lead in the East with 99 points, but Chicago was awarded first place because they had more wins. It was Chicago's second first-place finish in Black Hawk history (the first being 1966–67)
Entering their last game of the regular season, the Montreal Canadiens were equal with points with the New York Rangers for the final playoff spot. A Montreal win or tie would ensure a playoff berth, but a loss would likely eliminate the Canadiens under the second tiebreaker, which was total goals scored, for which the Rangers had a four goal advantage going into the match.
Against the Chicago Black Hawks, the Canadiens were down 5-2 with just over nine minutes to play, but they could still make the playoffs if they scored three more goals regardless of the game's outcome. Coach Claude Ruel then pulled his goaltender for the extra attacker. But the plan didn't work as Montreal failed to score while Chicago scored five times into the empty Montreal net, to win 10–2. The Canadiens, ending the season with two goals behind the Rangers, were out of the playoffs.
Thereafter, the rules were changed so that the 2nd tiebreaker after number of wins would be head to head record between the two teams that tied in the standings.
|1||Chicago Black Hawks||76||45||22||9||250||170||+80||99|
|3||Detroit Red Wings||76||40||21||15||246||199||+47||95|
|4||New York Rangers||76||38||22||16||246||189||+57||92|
|6||Toronto Maple Leafs||76||29||34||13||222||242||−20||71|
|1||St. Louis Blues||76||37||27||12||224||179||+45||86|
|3||Minnesota North Stars||76||19||35||22||224||257||−33||60|
|6||Los Angeles Kings||76||14||52||10||168||290||−122||38|
|Quarter-finals||Semi-finals||Stanley Cup Final|
|1||Chicago Black Hawks||4|
|3||Detroit Red Wings||0|
|1||Chicago Black Hawks||0|
|4||New York Rangers||2|
|W1||St. Louis Blues||0|
|1||St. Louis Blues||4|
|3||Minnesota North Stars||2|
|1||St. Louis Blues||4|
(E1) Chicago Black Hawks vs. (E3) Detroit Red Wings
In the Chicago-Detroit series, the Black Hawks swept the series, interestingly winning all four games by 4–2 scores.
(E2) Boston Bruins vs. (E4) New York Rangers
The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers were paired in the East Division playoffs. The Bruins clobbered the Rangers 8–2 in game one and Ranger coach Emile Francis yanked Ed Giacomin when the score reached 7–1. Terry Sawchuk took over in goal. Sawchuk replaced Giacomin in game two, but a new goalie was not the answer as Boston won 5–3. Game three featured a hostile welcome for the Bruins when they skated out on Madison Square Garden ice. The fans booed and shouted obscenities at the Bruins players, shook their fists at them and made obscene gestures at them. Two Bruins players made obscene gestures at the fans. Gerry Cheevers, the Bruins goaltender, was the target of eggs, coins and rubber balls. The Bruins won the opening face-off and Giacomin made the save on Phil Esposito. The line of Derek Sanderson, Don Marcotte and Ed Westfall replaced the Esposito line to the boos of the crowd. Just before the face-off, Giacomin skated to Sanderson and reportedly said "We're being paid to get you tonight." On the face-off, the puck went behind the Ranger net and Sanderson went after it. He was immediately smashed into the boards by Walt Tkaczuk and Arnie Brown. Then he collided with Dave Balon. Sanderson dropped his stick and gloves and went at Balon, which brought Brad Park and Bill Fairbairn into the fight. Don Marcotte joined in. Then the game erupted into a series of fights. The fans, turned on by the mayhem, threw eggs, apple cores, an aerosol shave cream container, oranges and other debris. When Sanderson was ejected from the game, he screamed at referee John Ashley. Police grappled with fans trying to attack the Bruins players at the Bruins players bench. The game erupted into more fights and brawls on the ice and fans threw eggs, nails, coins and other garbage. It took 19 minutes to play the first 91 seconds of the game. When the most violent, penalty-ridden game in playoff history [to this time] was over, the teams had set a record 38 penalties for 174 minutes. Almost forgotten was that the Rangers won 4–3. Game four had Rod Gilbert score two goals in a 4–2 Ranger win. Giacomin was brilliant in goal for the Rangers and one of the highlights was stopping Derek Sanderson on a shorthanded breakaway. Game five was won by Boston 3–2 as Esposito scored two goals. Bobby Orr set up the winner when he stole a pass at center ice when the Rangers were foolishly caught on a line change. Game six was won easily by the Bruins and featured another disgraceful exhibition of fan abuse. Bobby Orr scored two goals, including the winner. Fans threw eggs, and ball bearings on the ice, and when the outcome was no longer in doubt, they set fires in the mezzanine of Madison Square Garden. Sadly, Terry Sawchuk died a few weeks after the playoffs ended. His career ended with 447 wins and 103 shutouts, records that would not be broken for the next 4 decades.
(W1) St. Louis Blues vs. (W3) Minnesota North Stars
In the West Division playoffs, the St. Louis Blues ousted the Minnesota North Stars in six games. The Blues won the first two games at the St. Louis Arena. Game three at the Metropolitan Sports Center featured Gump Worsley's sharp goaltending and Bill Goldsworthy scoring two goals in a 4–2 win for the North Stars. Cesare Maniago played in goal for Minnesota in game four and picked up a 4–0 shutout, tying the series. Game five at St. Louis Arena was tied 3–3 when St Louis scored three goals in the third period by Red Berenson, Terry Gray and Jim Roberts and the Blues won 6–3. In game six, Ab McDonald scored two goals as the Blues eliminated the North Stars by a score of 4–2.
(W2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (W4) Oakland Seals
In the Pittsburgh-Oakland series, in game one, Nick Harbaruk's goal midway through the third period was the winner as Pittsburgh won 2–1. In game two, Gary Jarrett gave Oakland a 1–0 lead, but Pittsburgh came back to win 3–1. Game three at Oakland featured a hat trick by Ken Schinkel of the Penguins as Pittsburgh won 5–2. Game four featured Oakland having 1–0 and 2–1 leads, but the Seals just couldn't hold on and the game was tied 2–2 at the end of regulation time. Overtime was necessary and Michel Briere scored the series winning goal at 8:28 of overtime for Pittsburgh. It would be the last time the Seals would make the playoffs in their franchise history. The playoffs would not return to the California Bay area until the 1993–94 NHL season when the San Jose Sharks made the playoffs for their first time.
(E1) Chicago Black Hawks vs. (E2) Boston Bruins
In the East Division final, Boston beat Chicago in four straight games.
(W1) St. Louis Blues vs. (W2) Pittsburgh Penguins
In the West Division final, the St. Louis Blues beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. The Pens would not get to the semi-finals again for more than 20 years.
The Stanley Cup final would then be Boston vs. St. Louis.
Stanley Cup Finals
Phil Esposito of the Bruins led all playoff scorers with 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points, at the time a new NHL playoff record, followed by Orr with 20 points and Johnny Bucyk of the Bruins with 19 points. Gerry Cheevers of the Bruins led all goaltenders with twelve wins, while Jacques Plante of the Blues led all goaltenders in goals against average in the playoffs with 1.48.
|May 3||St. Louis Blues||1 – 6||Boston Bruins||St. Louis Arena|
|May 5||St. Louis Blues||2 – 6||Boston Bruins||St. Louis Arena|
|May 7||Boston Bruins||4 – 1||St. Louis Blues||Boston Garden|
|May 10||Boston Bruins||4 – 3||OT||St. Louis Blues||Boston Garden|
|Boston wins series 4–0|
|1969–70 NHL awards|
|Prince of Wales Trophy:
(East Division champion)
|Chicago Black Hawks|
|Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(West Division champion)
|St. Louis Blues|
|Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
|Pit Martin, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
|Tony Esposito, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy:
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
|Phil Goyette, St. Louis Blues|
(Goaltender(s) of team with best goaltending record)
|Tony Esposito, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
|Edward W. Shore, James C. V. Hendy|
|First team||Position||Second team|
|Tony Esposito, Chicago Black Hawks||G||Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers|
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins||D||Carl Brewer, Detroit Red Wings|
|Brad Park, New York Rangers||D||Jacques Laperriere, Montreal Canadiens|
|Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins||C||Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings||RW||John McKenzie, Boston Bruins|
|Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks||LW||Frank Mahovlich, Detroit Red Wings|
Note: GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points
|Bobby Orr||Boston Bruins||76||33||87||120||125|
|Phil Esposito||Boston Bruins||76||43||56||99||50|
|Stan Mikita||Chicago Black Hawks||76||39||47||86||50|
|Phil Goyette||St. Louis Blues||72||29||49||78||16|
|Walt Tkaczuk||New York Rangers||76||27||50||77||38|
|Jean Ratelle||New York Rangers||75||32||42||74||28|
|Red Berenson||St. Louis Blues||67||33||39||72||38|
|J. P. Parise||Minnesota North Stars||74||24||48||72||72|
|Gordie Howe||Detroit Red Wings||76||31||40||71||58|
|Frank Mahovlich||Detroit Red Wings||74||38||32||70||59|
|Dave Balon||New York Rangers||76||33||37||70||100|
|John McKenzie||Boston Bruins||72||29||41||70||114|
Note: GP = Games played; Min - Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts
|Ernie Wakely||St. Louis Blues||30||1651||58||2.11||12||9||4||4|
|Tony Esposito||Chicago Black Hawks||63||3763||136||2.17||38||17||8||15|
|Jacques Plante||St. Louis Blues||32||1839||67||2.19||18||9||5||5|
|Ed Giacomin||New York Rangers||70||4148||163||2.36||35||21||14||6|
|Roy Edwards||Detroit Red Wings||47||2683||116||2.59||24||15||6||2|
|Rogatien Vachon||Montreal Canadiens||64||3697||162||2.63||31||18||12||4|
|Roger Crozier||Detroit Red Wings||34||1877||83||2.65||16||6||9||0|
|Gerry Cheevers||Boston Bruins||41||2384||108||2.72||24||8||8||4|
|Bernie Parent||Philadelphia Flyers||62||3680||171||2.79||13||29||20||3|
|Ed Johnston||Boston Bruins||37||2176||108||2.98||16||9||11||3|
- Plus-Minus leader: Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1969–70 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1969–70 (listed with their last team):
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- 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.
- 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 (1973). The Story of the National Hockey League. New York, NY: Pagurian Press. ISBN 0-684-13424-1.
- Klein, Jeff Z.; Reif, Karl-Eric (April 1, 2007). "HOCKEY: SUNDAY SHOOTOUT; Recalling Wild Last Day In 1970". The New York Times.
- "1969–1970 Division Standings Standings - NHL.com - Standings". National Hockey League.
- Dinger 2011, p. 150.