The 1974–75 NHL season was the 58th season of the National Hockey League. Eighteen teams each played 80 games. With the addition of two new teams, the Washington Capitals and Kansas City Scouts, the NHL bumped up the number of games from 78 to 80 and split the previously two-division league into four divisions and two conferences.
Because the new conferences and divisions had little to do with North American geography, geographical references were also removed. The East Division became the Prince of Wales Conference and consisted of the Adams Division and Norris Division and the West Division became the Clarence Campbell Conference and consisted of the Patrick Division and Smythe Division. The Patrick and Norris Divisions would switch conferences following the 1980–81 season. This further expansion was considered by many ill-fated, and with the World Hockey Association (WHA) continuing to drain talent away, the Capitals had the worst season ever recorded in the history of major professional hockey, and the third worst in the postwar era the following season, while the Scouts the following season would have the fifth worst record of the postwar era.
For the first time ever in the National Hockey League, there was a three-way tie for first place overall. The respective divisional leaders of the Norris, Patrick, and Adams all had 113 points. The Vancouver Canucks, which had been playing in the original East Division since they debuted in the league, were moved over to the Campbell Conference and led the way in the Smythe Division with a meager 86 points. Bobby Orr won the scoring title for the second time, the only defenseman in the history of the NHL to accomplish this feat.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold
|Toronto Maple Leafs||80||31||33||16||78||280||309||1079|
|California Golden Seals||80||19||48||13||51||212||316||1101|
|Los Angeles Kings||80||42||17||21||105||269||185||1185|
|Detroit Red Wings||80||23||45||12||58||259||335||1078|
|New York Rangers||80||37||29||14||88||319||276||1053|
|New York Islanders||80||33||25||22||88||264||221||1118|
|St. Louis Blues||80||35||31||14||84||269||267||1275|
|Chicago Black Hawks||80||37||35||8||82||268||241||1112|
|Minnesota North Stars||80||23||50||7||53||221||341||1106|
|Kansas City Scouts||80||15||54||11||41||184||328||744|
Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points
|Bobby Orr||Boston Bruins||80||46||89||135||101|
|Phil Esposito||Boston Bruins||79||61||66||127||62|
|Marcel Dionne||Detroit Red Wings||80||47||74||121||14|
|Guy Lafleur||Montreal Canadiens||70||53||66||119||37|
|Pete Mahovlich||Montreal Canadiens||80||35||82||117||64|
|Bobby Clarke||Philadelphia Flyers||80||27||89||116||125|
|Rene Robert||Buffalo Sabres||74||40||60||100||75|
|Rod Gilbert||New York Rangers||76||36||61||97||22|
|Gilbert Perreault||Buffalo Sabres||68||39||57||96||36|
|Rick Martin||Buffalo Sabres||68||52||43||95||72|
All dates in 1975
With the new conference and division structure, the 1975 playoffs used a new format. The playoffs were expanded from 8 to 12 teams with the top 3 teams in each division qualifying for the playoffs. The first place teams in each division earned a first round bye, while the second and third place teams were seeded 1–8 based on their regular season record and played a best 2 out of 3 "mini-series." The four division winners then joined the 4 mini series winners in the quarter finals, and they were again re-seeded 1–8 based on regular season record. This re-seeding would take place again in the semi finals, and continues to this day in the current playoff format (although it was not used between 1982 and 1993). Proponents of this re-seeding state that it makes the regular season more important by rewarding teams with better records with potentially easier matchups. In addition, it avoids the potential issue of two lower seeded teams (who may have pulled early round upsets) playing each other in the next round while two higher seeded teams are playing each other (as is possible in a "bracketed" playoff format like in the NBA). The biggest beneficiary of this format was the Vancouver Canucks, who were ninth in the regular season but received a first-round bye for winning the relatively weak Smythe Division.
During the 1975 Stanley Cup playoffs, the New York Islanders, playing in their first playoffs since their inception in the 1972–73 NHL season, nearly managed an incredible series of upsets to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. After upsetting the New York Rangers two games to one in the preliminary round, the Islanders found themselves behind the Pittsburgh Penguins three games to none in the best-of-seven series in the quarterfinal round. The Islanders rallied to win the next four games and take the series 4–3. The only other NHL team to accomplish the feat of rallying from a 3–0 game deficit to win, was the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals. In the semifinal round of the playoffs, the Islanders nearly did it again. Rallying from another three games to none deficit, they won the next three games to force a seventh game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers took the decisive seventh game at home to win the series and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
See main article: 1975 Stanley Cup Finals.
|Prince of Wales Trophy||Buffalo Sabres|
|Clarence S. Campbell Bowl||Philadelphia Flyers|
|Art Ross Memorial Trophy||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy||Don Luce, Buffalo Sabres|
|Calder Memorial Trophy||Eric Vail, Atlanta Flames|
|Conn Smythe Trophy||Bernie Parent, Philadelphia Flyers|
|Hart Memorial Trophy||Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers|
|Jack Adams Award||Bob Pulford, Los Angeles Kings|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy||Marcel Dionne, Detroit Red Wings|
|Lester B. Pearson Award||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|NHL Plus/Minus Award||Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins|
|Vezina Trophy||Bernie Parent, Philadelphia Flyers|
|Lester Patrick Trophy||Donald M. Clark, William L. Chadwick, Thomas N. Ivan|
|First Team||Position||Second Team|
|Bernie Parent, Philadelphia Flyers||G||Rogie Vachon, Los Angeles Kings|
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins||D||Guy Lapointe, Montreal Canadiens|
|Denis Potvin, New York Islanders||D||Borje Salming, Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers||C||Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins|
|Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens||RW||Rene Robert, Buffalo Sabres|
|Rick Martin, Buffalo Sabres||LW||Steve Vickers, New York Rangers|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1974–75 (listed with their first team):
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1974–75 (listed with their last team):
NOTE: Ullman would finish his major professional career in the World Hockey Association.