The Three Stars:
Gordie Howe Almost Dies In On-Ice Mishap - During a playoff loss to arch rival Toronto, Gordie Howe attempts to hit Teeder Kennedy of the Leafs with a big hit. "I saw Howe coming," Kennedy said. "I stepped aside and he crashed into the boards." The Wings saw it different, with coach Tommy Ivan claiming Kennedy butt-ended or elbowed Howe. The debate continues to this day, but the bottom line was Howe crumpled on the ice in a bloody mess. He suffers a skull fracture, concussion, broken nose and cheekbone and a lacerated eyeball. Doctors have to drill through his skull to relieve pressure on the brain. Of course Howe would be okay.
Battle of the Bulge - With the Leafs mired in an early season losing streak, GM Conn Smythe famously decides his team needs better conditioning. Pudgy goaltender Turk Broda becomes the whipping/poster boy, despite his incredible playoff record in recent years. "We are not running a fat man's team. He is off the team until he shows some common sense. Smythe demands Broda get down to 190lbs. He was so serious that he traded 5 players and cash to land star goaltender Al Rollins. Broda does comply though the media have a field day with it all.
Reardon/Gardner Feud Continues - In what may be the most contentious personal rivalry in NHL history, Ken Reardon and Cal Gardner never stop battling one another. When Reardon is injured by Gardner in a game on January 1st, 1949, Reardon tells the media "Even if I have to wait until the last game I ever play, Gardner is going get it good and plenty." This forces NHL president Clarence Campbell to step in and forces Reardon to put up a $1,000 good-conduct bond. Reardon retired at the end of the 1949-50 season without harming Gardner.
- The NHL begins the practice of painting the ice white so that the game is easier to follow.
- The Detroit Red Wings' "Production Line" finishes 1-2-3 in the NHL scoring race. Ted Lindsay wins the Art Ross Trophy with 78 points while Sid Abel (69) and Gordie Howe (68) are runners up.
- Gordie Howe scores 35 goals during the regular season, matching the total from his first three seasons in the NHL combined.
- The Wings win the Stanley Cup, thanks in large part to goaltender Harry "Apple Cheeks" Lumley who posted 3 playoff shutouts. Pete Babando scored the Stanley Cup winning goal - a rare game 7 overtime goal!
- Chuck Rayner of the New York Rangers wins the Hart Trophy as the league MVP. The wandering goalie (they say he used to wander up ice hoping to score a goal) had a sparkling 2.62 GAA.
- But it was a different goalie who won the Vezina. Bill Durnan of Montreal won the top goalie award and the promptly retired.