1981-82: Gretzky Obliterates NHL Record Book
The Three Stars
Gretzky Scores At Unbelievable Pace - Wayne Gretzky absolutely rewrites the NHL record book. First he reaches 50 goals in just 39 games. The 21 year old finishes with an unbelievable 92 goals. On top of that he bests his own NHL record for assists with 120. Total it up and he becomes the first and only NHL player to ever score 200 points in a season with 212. Gretzky, who would score 200 points four times in his career, would obviously win the Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy and Pearson Trophy. But his Oilers would stumble in the playoffs, losing in dramatic fashion to the lowly Los Angeles Kings.
NHL Re-alignment - NHL changes its playoff format to emphasize divisional play in the post season. Instead of seeding teams one to 16, each division plays down to a champion, followed by a conference final and then the Stanley Cup final. The seeds are planted for some of the most intense rivalries of the 1980s.
Soviets Beat Canada Badly At Canada Cup - For the second time in three seasons the mighty Soviet national hockey team embarasses the NHL's best as they trounce Canada 8-1 in the final of the Canada Cup tournament. Much ire is drawn when tournament organizer Alan Eagleson refuses to allow the Soviets to take the trophy home.
- Though Mike Bossy has his biggest NHL season with 147 points, he still finishes 2nd place in NHL scoring - 65 points behind Wayne Gretzky!
- But Bossy doesn't mind too much as at the end of the season he and his Islanders teammates hoist the Stanley Cup for the 3rd consecutive year. He leads the way with 17 goals in 19 games, winning the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.
- Rick Vaive becomes the first player in Toronto Maple Leafs history to score 50 goals.
- Peter Stastny scores 46 goals and 139 points, third best in the NHL.
- Washington was not a very strong team, but Dennis Maruk sure tried hard. He scored 60 goals and 136 points, fourth best in the NHL.
- The New York Rangers hired US Olympic coach Herb Brooks.
- The Calgary Flames acquire Lanny McDonald from the Colorado Rockies.
- Dale Hawerchuk is drafted first overall by Winnipeg. He steps into the line up with 45 goals and 103 points and wins the Calder Trophy.
- Bobby Carpenter, drafted 3rd overall by Washington, starts his NHL career amid much fanfare after Sports Illustrated dubbed him "The Can't Miss Kid." He scored 32 goals in his rookie season.
- Minnesota's Dino Ciccarelli scores 55 goals and Edmonton's other star, Mark Messier, erupts for 50. So does the Islanders' Bryan Trottier, who finishes a distant 2nd to Gretzky for the Hart Trophy.
- With the red hot Gretzky ousted from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings, the Vancouver Canucks seize the day and surprise everyone and advance to the Stanley Cup final. Despite "King" Richard Brodeur's spectacular play and Roger Nielsen's Towel Power, the Canucks are no match for the dynastic Islanders.