August 11, 2014

1953-54: Canadiens Sign Jean Beliveau

The Three Stars:

Canadiens Sign Jean Beliveau: The Montreal Canadiens sign the most anticipated rookie sensation ever when they make Quebec Aces (senior hockey) star Jean Beliveau the richest man in hockey with a 5 year, $100,000 contract. While a broken ankle limits Beliveau to 44 games and 34 points he would soon prove to be worth every penny.

Soviets Shock Canada: Playing in their first ever World Hockey Championships the Soviets trounce Canada - represented by Toronto's East York Lyndhursts - by a score of 7-2, and win the gold medal. The historic upset officially marks the beginning of the long running cold war between the two hockey nations.

Red Kelly Wins Norris Trophy: For several seasons it is evident that Detroit's Red Kelly is the best defenseman in all of hockey. But the NHL did not have a trophy to officially crown him as such. They introduced the James Norris Trophy in honour of the former owner of the Detroit Red Wings. Kelly is named as the first winner and he also captures another Lady Byng trophy as most gentlemanly player.

Season Highlights:
  • Detroit defeats Montreal in an epic 7 game battle to win the Stanley Cup. It all came down to a lucky shot, in overtime nonetheless. Tony Leswick lobbed an easy puck towards the net. Goalie Gerry McNeil was about to play it when superstar defenseman Doug Harvey tried to swat the puck away with his glove. Unfortunately it landed in his own net.
  • A year after Gump Worsley wins the Calder Trophy as top rookie, the New York Rangers inexplicably send him down to the minor leagues. Johnny Bower gets the net in front of a weak New York team.
  • One of the few bright lights on Broadway was Calder Trophy winning rookie Camille "The Eel" Henry, who weighed all of 135lbs.
  • Gordie Howe captures an unprecedented fourth straight scoring crown with 81 points. He also leads the league in assists with 48.
  • Rocket Richard leads the league in goals for the fourth time in his career. He had 37 this campaign.
  • Chicago's Al Rollins wins the Hart Trophy as league MVP even though he leads the league in losses by a goalie. He posted a dismal 47 losses and a 3.23 GAA but truly and single-handedly kept the Blackhawks close in a lot of games.

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