1979–80 NHL season

1979–80 NHL season

The 1979–80 NHL season was the 63rd season of the National Hockey League. Twenty-one teams each played 80 games. This season saw the addition of four teams from the collapse of the World Hockey Association (WHA) the previous season as expansion franchises. The Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, New England Whalers (later renamed "Hartford Whalers" at the insistence of the Boston Bruins), and Quebec Nordiques joined the NHL bringing a new total of 21 teams. The other two WHA teams (Birmingham Bulls and Cincinnati Stingers) were paid to disband.

The collapse of the WHA also saw the much hyped super-star rookie Wayne Gretzky come to the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky would tie Marcel Dionne for the scoring lead with 137 points and capture the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player while Dionne took home the Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer by virtue of having scored two more goals. Gretzky aside, many players made their debut in the NHL this season, both due to the WHA merger and to a change in the rules for the Entry Draft allowing eighteen and nineteen year olds to be drafted for the first time; no fewer than six Hall of Famers (Gretzky, Ray Bourque, Mark Messier, Mike Gartner, Michel Goulet and Joe Mullen) debuted this season along with numerous other perennial stars.

The big story of the regular season was the record-breaking undefeated streak compiled by the Philadelphia Flyers. After starting the season with a 5–2 win over the New York Islanders and a 9–2 loss to the Atlanta Flames, the Flyers did not lose again for nearly three months, earning at least one point in every game between a 4–3 win over Toronto October 14, 1979 and a 4–2 win over Buffalo January 6, 1980, a span of 35 games. This stands as the longest undefeated streak in North American professional sports history.

Regular season

For the four previous seasons, the Boston Bruins had owned first place in the Adams Division. This season saw the Buffalo Sabres dethrone the Bruins in the Adams. The New York Islanders finished first overall in the NHL the previous season with 116 points, but had lost in the semi-finals of the playoffs to the upstart New York Rangers. This season saw them fall considerably in the standings as they finished 4th overall with 91 points, a full 25 points below last year's finish. On the other hand, the Philadelphia Flyers improved by 21 points from the previous season. Their 35-game undefeated streak [25–0–10] propelled them to the best record in the NHL with 116 points.

All four expansion teams finished poorly with records below .500. The Hartford Whalers fared the best with 73 points and the Winnipeg Jets tied the Colorado Rockies for last overall with 51 points.

Rule changes

In August, 1979, John Ziegler, the NHL president, announced that protective helmets will be mandatory for all NHL players. "The introduction of the helmet rule will be an additional safety factor," he said. The only exception will be for players who signed their pro contracts prior to 1 June, 1979. Those players under the exception who chose not to wear a helmet also had to sign a waiver form. At the time of the rule change, about 70% of NHLers were wearing helmets already. The first player to wear protective head gear on a regular basis was George Owen of the Boston Bruins in 1928. Prior to that, the only time protective head gear was worn was to temporarily protect injuries. Craig MacTavish, while playing for the St. Louis Blues, was the last helmetless player in 1997.

Final standings

"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"

Prince of Wales Conference

All-Star teams


The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1979–80 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
*Kent Nilsson, Atlanta Flames
*Paul Reinhart, Atlanta Flames
*Brad McCrimmon, Boston Bruins
*Craig MacTavish, Boston Bruins
*Ray Bourque, Boston Bruins
*Mike Ramsey, Buffalo Sabres
*Darryl Sutter, Chicago Black Hawks
*Rob Ramage, Colorado Rockies
*John Ogrodnick, Detroit Red Wings
*Mike Foligno, Detroit Red Wings
*Kevin Lowe, Edmonton Oilers
*Mark Messier, Edmonton Oilers
*Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
*Dave Semenko, Edmonton Oilers
*John Garrett, Hartford Whalers
*Gordie Roberts, Hartford Whalers
*Mark Howe, Hartford Whalers
*Mike Rogers, Hartford Whalers
*Jay Wells, Los Angeles Kings
*Craig Hartsburg, Minnesota North Stars
*Chris Nilan, Montreal Canadiens
*Keith Acton, Montreal Canadiens
*Rick Meagher, Montreal Canadiens
*Richard Brodeur, New York Islanders
*Ken Morrow, New York Islanders
*Duane Sutter, New York Islanders
*Brian Propp, Philadelphia Flyers
*Michel Goulet, Quebec Nordiques
*Real Cloutier, Quebec Nordiques
*Mike Liut, St. Louis Blues
*Joe Mullen*, St. Louis Blues
*Laurie Boschman, Toronto Maple Leafs
*Rick Vaive, Vancouver Canucks
*Mike Gartner, Washington Capitals
*Dave Christian, Winnipeg Jets

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1979–80 (listed with their last team):
*Paul Henderson, Atlanta Flames
*Gerry Cheevers, Boston Bruins
*Dave Schultz, Buffalo Sabres
*Keith Magnuson, Chicago Black Hawks
*Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
*Bill Flett, Edmonton Oilers
*Al Hamilton, Edmonton Oilers
*Gordie Howe, Hartford Whalers
*Bobby Hull, Hartford Whalers
*Dale Tallon, Pittsburgh Penguins
*Carl Brewer, Toronto Maple Leafs
*Dennis Hextall, Washington Capitals
*Gary Smith, Winnipeg Jets

1980 Trading Deadline

* Trading Deadline: MARCH 11, 1980 [ [http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/3969 NHL trade deadline: Deals since 1980 | Habs Inside/Out ] ]
*March 10, 1980: Butch Goring traded from Los Angeles to NY Islanders for Billy Harris and Dave Lewis.
*March 10, 1980: Jerry Korab traded from Buffalo to Los Angeles for Los Angeles' 1st round choice in 1982 Entry Draft (Phil Housley).
*March 11, 1980: Ron Chipperfield traded from Edmonton to Quebec for Ron Low.
*March 11, 1980: Cam Connor and Edmonton's 3rd round choice in 1981 Entry Draft traded from Edmonton to NY Rangers for Don Murdoch.
*March 11, 1980: Jim Corsi traded from Edmonton to Minnesota for future considerations.

See also

* List of Stanley Cup champions
* 1979 NHL Entry Draft
* 1979 NHL Expansion Draft
* 32nd National Hockey League All-Star Game
* National Hockey League All-Star Game
* World Hockey Association
* List of WHA seasons
* Ice hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics
* 1979 in sports
* 1980 in sports


* [http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/nhl1927.html Hockey Database]
* [http://nhl.com/ NHL.com]

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