|1981–82 NHL season|
|League||National Hockey League|
|Duration||October 6, 1981 – May 16, 1982|
|Number of games||80|
|Number of teams||21|
|Top draft pick||Dale Hawerchuk|
|Picked by||Winnipeg Jets|
|Season champions||New York Islanders|
|Season MVP||Wayne Gretzky (Oilers)|
|Top scorer||Wayne Gretzky (Oilers)|
|Playoffs MVP||Mike Bossy (Islanders)|
|Champions||New York Islanders|
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, thus replacing the Vezina Trophy in that qualifying criteria. The Vezina Trophy would thereafter be awarded to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position. The New York Islanders won their third straight Stanley Cup by sweeping the Vancouver Canucks in four games.
Prior to the start of the season, the divisions of the league were re-aligned to reduce travel costs to better reflect their geographic locations, but the traditional names of the divisions and conferences were retained. 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 respective conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals. With the exception of the first round changing from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven in 1987, this schedule and playoff arrangement continued until 1993.
Beginning with this season, the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Campbell Bowl were awarded to the Wales Conference (Eastern Conference since 1993) playoffs champion and the Campbell Conference (Western Conference since 1993) playoffs champion, respectively.
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 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 1993 without the extra period, as two of their games would have ended in a tie. Likewise, the Islanders in 1982 (unlike the Penguins in 1993) did not have to risk a loss in overtime, thus endangering their winning streak.
The Edmonton Oilers' young superstar Wayne Gretzky broke several 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.
This was the final season of the Colorado Rockies before moving to New Jersey to become the Devils. The NHL would return to the Denver area 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. The downside was that the players hit the boards faster after being bodychecked.
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
|New York Islanders||80||54||16||10||385||250||118|
|New York Rangers||80||39||27||14||316||306||92|
Clarence Campbell Conference
|Minnesota North Stars||80||37||23||20||346||288||94|
|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|
|Los Angeles Kings||80||24||41||15||314||369||63|
|Division Semifinals||Division Finals||Conference Finals||Stanley Cup Finals|
|Prince of Wales Conference|
|Clarence Campbell Conference|
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 lost in the first round as well, dropping 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 as they rolled to their 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
|May 8||Vancouver Canucks||5–6||OT||New York Islanders||Nassau Coliseum|
|May 11||Vancouver Canucks||4–6||New York Islanders||Nassau Coliseum|
|May 13||New York Islanders||3–0||Vancouver Canucks||Pacific Coliseum|
|May 16||New York Islanders||3–1||Vancouver Canucks||Pacific Coliseum|
|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 playoff champion)
|New York Islanders|
|Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(Campbell Conference playoff champion)
|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:
|Tom Watt, Winnipeg Jets|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy:
|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|
|Billy Smith, New York Islanders|
|Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
|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|
Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points
|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|
|Billy Smith||New York Islanders||46||2685||133||0||2.97|
|Roland Melanson||New York Islanders||36||2115||114||0||3.23|
|Eddie Mio||New York Rangers||25||1500||89||0||3.56|
- New York Islanders: Al Arbour
- New York Rangers: Herb Brooks
- Philadelphia Flyers: Pat Quinn and Bob McCammon
- Pittsburgh Penguins: Eddie Johnston
- Washington Capitals: Danny Belisle
- Boston Bruins: Gerry Cheevers
- Buffalo Sabres: Jimmy Roberts
- Hartford Whalers: Larry Pleau
- Montreal Canadiens: Bob Berry
- Quebec Nordiques: Michel Bergeron
- Chicago Black Hawks: Keith Magnuson and Bob Pulford
- Detroit Red Wings: Wayne Maxner
- Minnesota North Stars: Glen Sonmor
- St. Louis Blues: Red Berenson
- Toronto Maple Leafs: Mike Nykoluk
- Winnipeg Jets: Tom Watt
- Calgary Flames: Al MacNeil
- Colorado Rockies: Bill MacMillan
- Edmonton Oilers: Glen Sather
- Los Angeles Kings: Parker MacDonald
- Vancouver Canucks: Harry Neale and Roger Neilson
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):
- Jiri Bubla, Vancouver Canucks
- Garth Butcher, Vancouver Canucks
- Bob Carpenter, Washington Capitals
- Gaetan Duchesne, Washington Capitals
- Ron Francis, Hartford Whalers
- Grant Fuhr, Edmonton Oilers
- Randy Gregg*, Edmonton Oilers
- Dale Hawerchuk, Winnipeg Jets
- Ivan Hlinka, Vancouver Canucks
- Tim Hunter, Calgary Flames
- Pelle Lindbergh, Philadelphia Flyers
- Al MacInnis, Calgary Flames
- Mike Vernon, Calgary Flames
- Bernie Nicholls, Los Angeles Kings
- Marian Stastny, Quebec Nordiques
- Thomas Steen, Winnipeg Jets
- Tony Tanti, Chicago Black Hawks
- John Vanbiesbrouck, New York Rangers
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):
- Don Marcotte, Boston Bruins
- Dick Redmond, Boston Bruins
- Rogie Vachon, Boston Bruins
- Yvon Lambert, Buffalo Sabres
- Bill Clement, Calgary Flames
- Bob Murdoch, Calgary Flames
- Eric Vail, Detroit Red Wings
- Dave Keon, Hartford Whalers
- Paul Shmyr, Hartford Whalers
- Rick Martin, Los Angeles Kings
- Steve Vickers, New York Rangers
- Bob Dailey, Philadelphia Flyers
- Jimmy Watson, Philadelphia Flyers
- Gregg Sheppard, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Ron Stackhouse, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Don Luce, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Rene Robert, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Bob Kelly, Washington Capitals
- Jean Pronovost, Washington Capitals
1982 Trading deadline trades
Trading Deadline: March 9, 1982
- March 8, 1982: Laurie Boschman traded from Toronto to Edmonton for Walt Poddubny and Phil Drouillard.
- March 8, 1982: Kari Eloranta traded from Calgary to St. Louis for future considerations.
- March 8, 1982: Jim Korn traded from Detroit to Toronto for Toronto's fourth-round choice in 1982 NHL Entry Draft (Craig Coxe) and Toronto's fifth-round choice in 1983 NHL Entry Draft (Joe Kocur).
- March 9, 1982: Todd Bidner traded from Washington to Edmonton for Doug Hicks.
- March 9, 1982: Ed Cooper traded from Colorado to Edmonton for Stan Weir.
- March 9, 1982: Tony Currie, Jim Nill, Rick Heinz and St. Louis' fourth-round choice in 1982 Entry Draft (Shawn Kilroy) traded from St. Louis to Vancouver for Glen Hanlon.
- March 9, 1982: Miroslav Frycer and Quebec's seventh-round choice in 1982 Entry Draft (Jeff Triano) traded from Quebec to Toronto for Wilf Paiement.
- March 9, 1982: Guy Lapointe traded from Montreal to St. Louis for St. Louis' second-round choice in 1983 Entry Draft (Sergio Momesso).
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- 1981 NHL Entry Draft
- 34th National Hockey League All-Star Game
- National Hockey League All-Star Game
- 1981 Canada Cup
- 1981 in sports
- 1982 in sports
- Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Hockey. Kingston, NY: Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-85-X.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Toronto, ON: Dan Diamond & Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-22-5.
- Dryden, Steve, ed. (2000). Century of hockey. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. ISBN 0-7710-4179-9.
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- "1981-82 NHL Playoff Results". hockeyDB.com.
- List of NHL records (team)
- Weekes, Don (2003). The Best and Worst of Hockey's Firsts: The Unofficial Guide. Canada: Greystone Books. pp. 240. ISBN 9781550548600.
- Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Dan Diamond & Associates. p. 152. ISBN 9781894801225.
- Dinger 2011, p. 152.
- "1981-82 NHL Leaders - Hockey-Reference.com". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- NHL trade deadline: Deals since 1980 | Habs Inside/Out Archived 2009-02-16 at the Wayback Machine