1981–82 NHL season

1981–82 NHL season
League National Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Duration October 6, 1981 – May 16, 1982
Number of games 80
Number of teams 21
Regular season
Season champions New York Islanders
Season MVP Wayne Gretzky, (Edmonton)
Top scorer Wayne Gretzky, (Edmonton)
Playoffs Playoffs MVP Mike Bossy, (NY Islanders)
Stanley Cup
Champions New York Islanders
  Runners-up Vancouver Canucks

The 1981–82 NHL season was the 65th season of the National Hockey League. The William M. Jennings Trophy made its debut this year as the trophy for the goaltenders from the team with the fewest goals against. The New York Islanders won their third straight Stanley Cup by sweeping the Vancouver Canucks in four games.

League business

Prior to the start of the season, the divisions of the league were re-aligned to reduce travel costs. The Patrick Division, which had heretofore been in the Clarence Campbell Conference, switched to the Prince of Wales Conference, while the Norris Division went the other way, going from the Wales Conference to the Campbell Conference. This divisional alignment existed until the 1993–94 season, at which point both the divisions and the conferences of the league were renamed to reflect geography.

The schedule and playoff format were also altered. Previously, each team played every other team four times, and the 16-team playoff format had the four divisional champions joined by 12 wild-cards; for all intents and purposes, the divisions were meaningless. Also, under the old format, teams were paired in the first round based on record (i.e., 1st vs. 16th, 2nd vs. 15th, etc.), and then re-paired in each succeeding round based on record (i.e., highest seeded first round winner vs. lowest seeded first round winner, second highest first round winner vs. second lowest first round winner, etc.)

The new format called for each team in the three five-team divisions to play their four divisional opponents eight times each (32 games) and the remaining 16 league teams three times each (48 games). In addition, each team in the six-team division was to play their five divisional opponents seven times each (35 games) and the remaining 15 league teams three times each (45 games). As to the playoffs, the top four teams in each division qualified — no more wild-cards — with 1st Place playing 4th Place, and 2nd Place playing 3rd Place, in the divisional semifinals; the two winners meeting in the divisional finals; followed by the conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals. This schedule and playoff arrangement continued for over a decade.

Regular season

The New York Islanders led the league with 118 points, seven more than second place Edmonton Oilers. The Islanders also set a league record by winning 15 consecutive games from January 21 to February 20 although this was later eclipsed by the Pittsburgh Penguins' 17-game winning streak[1] from March 9 to April 10, 1993. However, the Islanders 15-game winning streak was accomplished before the advent of the extra OT period in the NHL regular season. The Penguins would need to win 2 of their games in the OT period (in games 2 and 15) and would not have accomplished their streak in 1982 without the extra period, as two of their games would have ended in a tie.

The Edmonton Oilers' young superstar Wayne Gretzky broke several prestigious records, including the record of 50 goals in 50 games, set by Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy, by scoring 50 goals in only 39 games. Gretzky also broke Phil Esposito's record of 76 goals in a season with 92, his own assists record of 109 which was set the prior season with 120, and his own point total of 164 which was also set the prior season with 212. He was the first, and thus far only, player to ever score 200 points in a season. The Oilers set a record for most goals in a season with 417, in which Gretzky scored or assisted on over half.

The New York Islanders' Mike Bossy set a regular season scoring record for right-wingers with 147 points in an 80 game season, and finished as runner-up to Gretzky for the Art Ross Trophy.

This was the final season of the Colorado Rockies before moving to New Jersey to become the Devils. NHL play would return to Colorado in 1995, when the Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup after moving from Quebec.

The Winnipeg Jets completed one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in league history as the Jets went from nine wins and 32 points in 1980-81 to 33 wins and 80 points.

The Philadelphia Flyers become the first team to wear long pants. The idea was to create a more streamlined uniform with lighter padding, thus making the players faster.[2] The downside was that the players hit the boards faster after being bodychecked.[2]

Final standings

Note: GP = Games played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalties in minutes
Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold

Prince of Wales Conference

Adams Division
Montreal Canadiens 80 46 17 17 360 223 1463 109
Boston Bruins 80 43 27 10 323285 1266 96
Buffalo Sabres 80 39 26 15 307 273 1425 93
Quebec Nordiques 80 33 31 16 356 345 1757 82
Hartford Whalers 80 21 41 18 264 351 1493 60


Patrick Division
New York Islanders 80 54 16 10 385 250 118
New York Rangers 80 39 27 14 316 306 92
Philadelphia Flyers 80 38 31 11 325 313 87
Pittsburgh Penguins 80 31 36 13 310 337 75
Washington Capitals 80 26 41 13 319 338 65


Clarence Campbell Conference

Norris Division
Minnesota North Stars 80 37 23 20 346 288 94
Winnipeg Jets 80 33 33 14 319 332 80
St. Louis Blues 80 32 40 8 315 349 72
Chicago Black Hawks 80 30 38 12 332 363 72
Toronto Maple Leafs 80 20 44 16 298 380 56
Detroit Red Wings 80 21 47 12 270 351 54


Smythe Division
Edmonton Oilers 80 48 17 15 417 295 111
Vancouver Canucks 80 30 33 17 290 288 77
Calgary Flames 80 29 34 17 334 345 75
Los Angeles Kings 80 24 41 15 314 369 63
Colorado Rockies 80 18 49 13 241 362 49



Playoff bracket

  Division Semifinals Division Finals Conference Finals Stanley Cup Finals
A1  Montreal 2  
A4  Quebec 3  
  A4  Quebec 4  
  A2  Boston 3  
A2  Boston 3
A3  Buffalo 1  
  A4  Quebec 0  
Prince of Wales Conference
  P1  NY Islanders 4  
P1  NY Islanders 3  
P4  Pittsburgh 2  
  P1  NY Islanders 4
  P2  NY Rangers 2  
P2  NY Rangers 3
P3  Philadelphia 1  
  P1  NY Islanders 4
  S2  Vancouver 0
N1  Minnesota 1  
N4  Chicago 3  
  N4  Chicago 4
  N3  St. Louis 2  
N2  Winnipeg 1
N3  St. Louis 3  
  N4  Chicago 1
Clarence Campbell Conference
  S2  Vancouver 4  
S1  Edmonton 2  
S4  Los Angeles 3  
  S4  Los Angeles 1
  S2  Vancouver 4  
S2  Vancouver 3
S3  Calgary 0  

The 1982 playoffs used a new format. Four teams from each division would qualify for the playoffs, and played a best-of-five semifinal round followed by a best-of-seven series to determine the division playoff champions. The Adams and Patrick winners would meet in the Wales Conference Final, while the Norris and Smythe winners played in the Campbell Conference Final. The two Conference Champions played for the Stanley Cup. With the exception of extending the first round to a best-of-seven in 1987, this format remained in place through the 1993 playoffs.

The first round of the 1982 playoffs saw three first-place teams (Edmonton, Minnesota, and Montreal) upset by fourth-place teams, a round which featured what is still the greatest comeback in NHL history: The Kings' 6–5 win over Edmonton in game three. After trailing 5–0 after two periods, the Kings scored five third period goals—three in the last 5:22, the final goal coming with only five seconds left in regulation. Los Angeles then scored on a face-off early in overtime, thus completing the "Miracle on Manchester".

The eventual champion New York Islanders nearly capitulated in the first round as well, losing games three and four of their first round playoff series with Pittsburgh after crushing the Penguins in the first two games. In game five, the Islanders scored twice in the last five minutes to force overtime and then won the series on John Tonelli's goal 6:19 into the extra session. This served as a wake-up call for New York, who lost only two more games the rest of the way on their march to third straight Stanley Cup. Their Final opponents, the Vancouver Canucks, finished the regular season with only 77 points, defeating three teams beneath them in the standings (Calgary 75, Los Angeles 63, and Chicago 72) in the much weaker Campbell Conference.

Stanley Cup Finals

New York won series 4–0


From this season forward, the Prince of Wales and Clarence S. Campbell trophies were given to the playoff champions of the respective conferences.

1982 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Wales Conference champion)
New York Islanders
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(Campbell Conference champion)
Vancouver Canucks
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Glenn Resch, Colorado Rockies
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Best first-year player)
Dale Hawerchuk, Winnipeg Jets
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Mike Bossy, New York Islanders
Frank J. Selke Trophy:
(Best defensive forward)
Steve Kasper, Boston Bruins
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Jack Adams Award:
(Best coach)
Tom Watt, Winnipeg Jets
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Doug Wilson, Chicago Black Hawks
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Rick Middleton, Boston Bruins
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
NHL Plus/Minus Award:
(Player with best plus/minus record)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
William M. Jennings Trophy:
(Goaltender(s) of team(s) with best goaltending record)
Rick Wamsley, Denis Herron, Montreal Canadiens
Vezina Trophy:
(Best goaltender)
Billy Smith, New York Islanders
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
Emile Francis

All-Star teams

First Team   Position   Second Team
Billy Smith, New York Islanders G Grant Fuhr, Edmonton Oilers
Doug Wilson, Chicago Black Hawks D Paul Coffey, Edmonton Oilers
Ray Bourque, Boston Bruins D Brian Engblom, Montreal Canadiens
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers C Bryan Trottier, New York Islanders
Mike Bossy, New York Islanders RW Rick Middleton, Boston Bruins
Mark Messier, Edmonton Oilers LW John Tonelli, New York Islanders

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points

Player Team GP G A Pts
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 80 92 120 212
Mike Bossy New York Islanders 80 64 83 147
Peter Stastny Quebec Nordiques 80 46 93 139
Dennis Maruk Washington Capitals 80 60 76 136
Bryan Trottier New York Islanders 80 50 79 129
Denis Savard Chicago Black Hawks 80 32 87 119
Marcel Dionne Los Angeles Kings 78 50 67 117
Bobby Smith Minnesota North Stars 80 43 71 114
Dino Ciccarelli Minnesota North Stars 76 55 51 106
Dave Taylor Los Angeles Kings 78 39 67 106

Source: NHL.[4]

Leading goaltenders

Player Team GP MIN GA SO GAA
Denis Herron Montreal 27 1547 68 3 2.64
Rick Wamsley Montreal 38 2206 101 2 2.75
Billy Smith New York Islanders 46 2685 133 0 2.97
Roland Melanson New York Islanders 44 2460 109 1 3.23
Grant Fuhr Edmonton 48 2847 157 0 3.31
Richard Brodeur Vancouver 52 3010 168 2 3.35
Marco Baron Boston 44 2515 144 1 3.44
Gilles Meloche Minnesota 51 3026 175 1 3.47
Don Edwards Buffalo 62 3500 205 0 3.51
Eddie Mio New York Rangers 25 1500 89 0 3.56




The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1981–82 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1981–82 (listed with their last team):

1982 Trading deadline trades

Trading Deadline: March 9, 1982[6]

See also


  1. List of NHL records (team)
  2. 1 2 Weekes, Don (2003). The Best and Worst of Hockey's Firsts: The Unofficial Guide. Canada: Greystone Books. p. 240. ISBN 9781550548600.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Dan Diamond & Associates. p. 152. ISBN 9781894801225.
  4. Dinger 2011, p. 152.
  5. http://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/NHL_1982_leaders.html
  6. NHL trade deadline: Deals since 1980 | Habs Inside/Out

External links

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