September 01, 2014

1974-75: Orr, Espo's Last Hurrah, Hull, Howe Excite In WHA

The Three Stars:

Orr And Esposito Enjoy Last Dominant Season - Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito put on another amazing offensive explosion, but little does anyone realize it is their last hurrah. The defenseman Orr nets a ridiculous 48 goals and wins his second Art Ross Trophy (135 points) and his eighth consecutive Norris Trophy. It proves to be his last full season as injuries devastate him. Espo leads the league in goals for the 6th straight time, scoring 61 and finishing second with 127 points. He is traded the next season.

Tough Guys Repeat - In the first Stanley Cup final between expansion franchises the Philadelphia Flyers down the Buffalo Sabres to repeat as champions. The Flyers infamously are known for their brawling ways (Dave "The Hammer" Schultz set a record with 472 PIMs this season) but they can thank their team defense and unparalleled goaltending of Bernie Parent for the league title. Parent wins his second consecutive Conn Smythe trophy. The offensive powerhouse Sabres managed only one goal in each of game 1, 2 and 5 and were shut out the decisive game 6.

Miracle On Long Island - The New York Islanders are down 3-0 in games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in their playoffs quarterfinal. Coach Al Arbour replaces goalie Billy Smith with rookie Chico Resch and the trick works like magic. The Isles win four straight games, including 1-0 in game 7. They joined the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the second team in NHL history to overcome such a severe deficit. Boston and Philadelphia have done it in recent years.

Season Highlights:
  • NHL expansion into Washington and Kansas City forces the league to move to four division format for the regular season, naming each grouping after hockey icons. Lester Patrick, Conn Smythe, Jim Norris and Jack Adams are all honoured.
  • The schedule is expanded to 80 games.
  • The Washington Capitals finish the season with a record of 8-67-5. They lost 17 consecutive games in one stretch, lost 37 consecutive road games, and allowed 446 goals against.
  • Guy Lafleur blossoms with a 53 goal, 119 point season, good enough for 4th overall.
  • Detroit's Marcel Dionne finishes third in the league in scoring with 121 points, then demands to be traded. The Wings would comply, moving him to Los Angeles in the off-season.
  • Bobby Clarke scores 116 points including 89 assists and wins his second Hart trophy.
  • In the WHA Bobby Hull teams up with Scandinavian stars Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson and scored an unthinkable 77 goals, while Gordie Howe and sons led the Houston Aeros to the WHA title. 

1 comment:

Hallwings said...

Actually, the Adams Division is named after Charles Francis Adams, the original President and Owner of the Boston Bruins (which makes sense, since Boston is in this new division). It's a common misconception.