1960-61: Season Of Change
The Three Stars:
Rocket Richard Retires - Montreal's Maurice "Rocket" Richard ends months of speculation and retires just days before the season starts. Typically, he does so after scoring a hat trick in a pre-season game. The 39 year old had an 18 year career that set 17 NHL records. He retired as the all time leading goal scorer (544), game winning goal scorer (82), playoff goal scorer (82), and playoff overtime goal scorer (6). The Hockey Hall of Fame waives the mandatory 3 year waiting period immediately.
Here is the audio from the CBC report that day:
As the report suggests, Richard's retirement was not exactly his idea. The Habs apparently pressed the issue as they were concerned about his age and weight.
Dynasty Ends - The Chicago Black hawks, who had not won a championship since 1938, meet the 5 time defending Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs in what seems like a heavy mismatch. But the hard hitting Hawks wear down the champs and eliminate them. they then beat the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final.
Boom Boom, Big M Gun For 50 - The recently retired Rocket Richard watches two players try to match his record of 50 goals in a season. Frank Mahovlich starts the year on a tear with 26 goals in his first 29 games and 41 by his 59th game. But he scores just seven times in the rest of the season to finish the season with 48. Meanwhile Boom Boom Geoffrion blasts 22 goals in his final 21 games to reach the magical 50 goal mark in his 62nd game. Geoffrion failed to score in his final 2 games of the season to better Richard's record.
- Boom Boom Geoffrion also wins the Art Ross trophy with 95 points. He also wins the Hart Trophy.
- Montreal coach Toe Blake receives a $2,000 fine, the largest in NHL history at that point, for sluggin referee Dalton MacArthur after game 3 of the semi-final match vs Chicago.
- On November 27th, 1960 Gordie Howe scores career point 1,000, the first man in NHL history to do so.
- On January 16th, 1961, Chicago goalie Glenn Hall plays in his 500th straight game, including playoffs.
- Chicago's ace defenseman Pierre Pilote leads the league in penalty minutes then ties for the lead league in scoring during the playoffs. Yet it is Doug Harvey who wins the Norris trophy.
- Toronto's Johnny Bower wins his first Vezina trophy, while teammate Red Kelly wins the Lady Byng.
- On January 26th, 1961 Wayne Gretzky was born.