1977-78 NHL Season
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1977%E2%80%9378 NHL Season
1977-78 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 12, 1977 - May 25, 1978
Number of games80
Number of teams18
Top draft pickDale McCourt
Picked byDetroit Red Wings
Regular season
Season championsMontreal Canadiens
Season MVPGuy Lafleur (Canadiens)
Top scorerGuy Lafleur (Canadiens)
Playoffs MVPLarry Robinson (Canadiens)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsMontreal Canadiens
  Runners-upBoston Bruins
NHL seasons

The 1977-78 NHL season was the 61st season of the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens won their third Stanley Cup in a row, defeating the Boston Bruins four games to two in the Stanley Cup Finals.

League business

Prior to the start of the season, Clarence Campbell retired as NHL President. John Ziegler succeeded him in that capacity.

A trophy for the top defensive forward, the Frank J. Selke Trophy, made its debut this season and went to Bob Gainey, who played left wing for Montreal.

On June 14, 1978, the league approved the merger of the financially struggling Cleveland Barons and Minnesota North Stars franchises, reducing the number of teams to 17, with the North Stars (now the Dallas Stars) assuming the Barons' place in the Adams Division. It was the first instance of a franchise dissolving since the Brooklyn Americans ceased operations in 1942. The next time the NHL had a team in Ohio would be the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2000-01 season.

The league changed the playoff qualification format for this season. Whereas before the top three teams in every division qualified, the format was changed to guarantee the top two teams in each division a playoff spot. The last four qualifiers were from the next-best four regular-season records from third and lower place finishers.

Teams were required to place the last names of players on the back of all jerseys starting with this season, but Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard initially refused, fearing that he would not be able to sell programs at his team's games. The NHL responded by threatening to levy a fine on the team in February 1978, so Ballard complied by making the letters the same color as the background they were on, which for the team's road jerseys was blue. The League threatened further sanctions, and despite playing more than one game with their "unreadable" sweaters, Ballard's Maple Leafs finally complied in earnest by making the letters white.[1]

Regular season

Bobby Orr sat out the season to rest his oft-injured knee in the hope that rest would allow him to return to play in 1978-79; he would return for that season, only playing in six games before retiring.

On December 11, 1977, the Philadelphia Flyers' Tom Bladon became the first defenceman in NHL history to score eight points in one game.[2] He scored four goals and four assists versus the Cleveland Barons. It was 25% of his point total for the entire season.

The Colorado Rockies qualified for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. They would not make the playoffs again until after the team had moved to New Jersey, in 1988. The next time the playoffs came to Colorado would be the Colorado Avalanche's championship season of 1996.

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
Boston Bruins 80 51 18 11 333 218 113
Buffalo Sabres 80 44 19 17 288 215 105
Toronto Maple Leafs 80 41 29 10 271 237 92
Cleveland Barons 80 22 45 13 230 325 57


Norris Division
Montreal Canadiens 80 59 10 11 359 183 129
Detroit Red Wings 80 32 34 14 252 266 78
Los Angeles Kings 80 31 34 15 243 245 77
Pittsburgh Penguins 80 25 37 18 254 321 68
Washington Capitals 80 17 49 14 195 321 48


Clarence Campbell Conference

Patrick Division
New York Islanders 80 48 17 15 334 210 111
Philadelphia Flyers 80 45 20 15 296 200 105
Atlanta Flames 80 34 27 19 274 252 87
New York Rangers 80 30 37 13 279 280 73


Smythe Division
Chicago Black Hawks 80 32 29 19 230 220 83
Colorado Rockies 80 19 40 21 257 305 59
Vancouver Canucks 80 20 43 17 239 320 57
St. Louis Blues 80 20 47 13 195 304 53
Minnesota North Stars 80 18 53 9 218 325 45



The playoffs were held in four rounds, preliminary, quarterfinals, semifinals and final. In the preliminary round, the Detroit Red Wings were the only lower-placed team to win over the higher-placed team. The Red Wings were then defeated in five games by the first-place Montreal Canadiens. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Los Angeles Kings to advance to the quarterfinals, where the Leafs upset the third-place New York Islanders in seven games, setting up an "Original Six" playoff against Montreal. The upsets ended there as the Canadiens swept the Leafs to advance to the final. In the other groupings, the higher-placed team won each round, and the second-place Boston Bruins advanced to the final to playoff against the first-place Canadiens. In the final, the Canadiens defeated the Bruins in six games to win their third consecutive Stanley Cup.

The Colorado Rockies made their one and only playoff appearance in the preliminary round against the Philadelphia Flyers, and were swept in two games. It would take another ten years before they got to the playoffs again in New Jersey. The Chicago Black Hawks were swept in the other "Original Six" matchup of the playoffs, losing to Boston in the quarterfinals.

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. Montreal Canadiens, Norris Division champions, Prince of Wales Conference regular season champions - 129 points
  2. Boston Bruins, Adams Division champions - 113 points
  3. New York Islanders, Patrick Division champions, Clarence Campbell Conference regular season champions - 111 points
  4. Philadelphia Flyers - 105 points (45 wins)
  5. Buffalo Sabres - 105 points (44 wins)
  6. Toronto Maple Leafs - 92 points
  7. Atlanta Flames - 87 points
  8. Chicago Black Hawks, Smythe Division champions - 83 points
  9. Detroit Red Wings - 78 points
  10. Los Angeles Kings - 77 points
  11. New York Rangers - 73 points
  12. Colorado Rockies - 59 points

Playoff bracket

  Preliminary Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
  1 Montreal 4  
    8 Detroit 1  
4 Atlanta 0
5 Detroit 2  
  1 Montreal 4  
  4 Toronto 0  
  3 NY Islanders 3
    6 Toronto 4  
3 Toronto 2
6 Los Angeles 0  
  1 Montreal 4
  2 Boston 2
  2 Boston 4
    7 Chicago 0  
  2 Boston 4
  3 Philadelphia 1  
1 Philadelphia 2  
8 Colorado 0  
  4 Philadelphia 4
    5 Buffalo 1  
2 Buffalo 2
7 NY Rangers 1  
  • Division winners earned a bye to the Quarterfinals
  • Teams were re-seeded based on regular season record after the Preliminary and Quarterfinal rounds

Preliminary Round

(1) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (8) Colorado Rockies

This was the first playoff series meeting between these two teams.

Philadelphia won series 2-0

(2) Buffalo Sabres vs. (7) New York Rangers

This was the first playoff series meeting between these two teams.

Buffalo won series 2-1

(3) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (6) Los Angeles Kings

This was the second playoff series meeting between these two teams. This was a rematch of last year's Preliminary Round, in which Toronto won the series 2-1.

Toronto won series 2-0

(4) Atlanta Flames vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings

This was the first playoff series between these two teams.

Detroit won series 2-0


(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (8) Detroit Red Wings

This was the 12th playoff series meeting between these two teams. Detroit lead 7-4 in previous playoff meetings. Montreal won their most recent meeting in six games in the 1966 Stanley Cup Finals.

Game 4 was the final playoff game at the Detroit Olympia

Montreal won series 4-1

(2) Boston Bruins vs. (7) Chicago Black Hawks

This was the sixth playoff meeting between these two teams. Boston won four of the previous five meetings. Chicago won their last series meeting 2-1 in the 1975 Preliminary Round.

Boston won series 4-0

(3) New York Islanders vs. (6) Toronto Maple Leafs

This was the first playoff series meeting between these two teams.

Toronto won series 4-3

(4) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (5) Buffalo Sabres

This was the second playoff series meeting between these two teams. Philadelphia won the only previous meeting in six games in the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals.

Philadelphia won series 4-1


(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (4) Toronto Maple Leafs

This was the 14th playoff series meeting between these two teams. Toronto lead 7-6 in previous meetings. Toronto won the most recent meeting in six games in the 1967 Stanley Cup Finals.

Montreal won series 4-0

(2) Boston Bruins vs. (3) Philadelphia Flyers

This was the fourth playoff series meeting between these two teams. Philadelphia won two of the previous three meetings. This was the third straight semifinal meeting following Philadelphia's win in five games in 1976 and Boston's four-game sweep last season

Game five was Fred Shero's last game as head coach of the Flyers, and Gerry Cheevers left the ice without shaking hands with any of the Flyers.[4]

Boston won series 4-1

Stanley Cup Finals

This was the 17th playoff series (and their last Finals) meeting between these two teams. Montreal lead 14-2 in previous meetings. This was a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Finals, in which Montreal won in a four-game sweep.

Montreal won series 4-2


The league introduced the Frank J. Selke trophy this season. It rewards the forward judged to be the best at defensive abilities.

1978 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)
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Butch Goring, Los Angeles Kings
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Mike Bossy, New York Islanders
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Larry Robinson, Montreal Canadiens
Frank J. Selke Trophy:
(Best defensive forward)
Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
Jack Adams Award:
(Best coach)
Bobby Kromm, Detroit Red Wings
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Denis Potvin, New York Islanders
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Butch Goring, Los Angeles Kings
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
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.)
Phil Esposito, Tom Fitzgerald, William Thayer Tutt, William W. Wirtz

All-Star teams

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

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

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Guy Lafleur Montreal Canadiens 78 60 72 132 26
Bryan Trottier New York Islanders 77 46 77 123 46
Darryl Sittler Toronto Maple Leafs 80 45 72 117 100
Jacques Lemaire Montreal Canadiens 76 36 61 97 14
Denis Potvin New York Islanders 80 30 64 94 81
Mike Bossy New York Islanders 73 53 38 91 6
Terry O'Reilly Boston Bruins 77 29 61 90 211
Gilbert Perreault Buffalo Sabres 79 41 48 89 20
Bobby Clarke Philadelphia Flyers 71 21 68 89 83
Lanny McDonald Toronto Maple Leafs 74 47 40 87 54
Wilf Paiement Colorado Rockies 80 31 56 87 114

Source: NHL.[5]

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
Ken Dryden Montreal Canadiens 52 3071 105 2.05 37 7 7 5
Bernie Parent Philadelphia Flyers 49 2923 108 2.22 29 6 13 7
Gilles Gilbert Boston Bruins 25 1326 56 2.53 15 6 2 2
Chico Resch N.Y. Islanders 45 2637 112 2.55 28 9 7 3
Tony Esposito Chicago Black Hawks 64 3840 168 2.63 28 22 14 5
Don Edwards Buffalo Sabres 72 4209 185 2.64 38 16 17 5
Billy Smith N.Y. Islanders 38 2154 95 2.65 20 8 8 2
Michel Larocque Montreal Canadiens 30 1729 77 2.67 22 3 4 1
Mike Palmateer Toronto Maple Leafs 63 3760 172 2.74 34 19 9 5
Dan Bouchard Atlanta Flames 58 3340 153 2.75 25 12 19 2

Other statistics

  • Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens


Patrick Division

Adams Division

Norris Division

Smythe Division


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1977-78 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Nedomansky began his 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 1977-78 (listed with their last team):

NOTE: Goldsworthy and Neilson would finish their major professional careers in the World Hockey Association.

See also


  • 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.
  • 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.
  1. ^ DeLaere, Matt (17 August 2017). "What's in a Number?". Impressions. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ Hockey's Book of Firsts, p.27, James Duplacey, JG Press, ISBN 978-1-57215-037-9
  3. ^ a b c d Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Dan Diamond & Associates. p. 151. ISBN 9781894801225.
  4. ^ "DropYourGloves.com". Archived from the original on 2012-03-15. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Dinger 2011, p. 150.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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