1980–81 NHL season

The 1980–81 NHL season was the 64th season of the National Hockey League. The New York Islanders were the top regular season team and the top playoff team, winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

1980–81 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 9, 1980 – May 21, 1981
Number of games80
Number of teams21
Top draft pickDoug Wickenheiser
Picked byMontreal Canadiens
Regular season
Season championsNew York Islanders
Season MVPWayne Gretzky (Oilers)
Top scorerWayne Gretzky (Oilers)
Playoffs MVPButch Goring (Islanders)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsNew York Islanders
  Runners-upMinnesota North Stars

League business

This was the first season that the Calgary Flames played in Calgary, Alberta. Previously, they were the Atlanta Flames and played in Atlanta, Georgia.

Regular season

The season featured notable individual scoring milestones.

Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers broke Bobby Orr's single season assist record, scoring 109 assists, and Phil Esposito's point record, scoring 164 points. He won his second of an unmatched eight straight Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player

Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders became only the second man in NHL history to score 50 goals in his first 50 games. In the 50th game, played at his home rink, he had 48 goals going into the 3rd and final period (before the advent of overtime games). Bossy admitted being so embarrassed and upset that he contemplated not going out on the ice for the final period. However, Bossy got his 49th goal with 5:15 left to go in the game and the 50th with 1:50 remaining, sending the Nassau Coliseum into a delirium. Maurice Richard, the only other man to accomplish this feat, was on hand to congratulate Bossy.

Bossy's Islanders finished as regular season champions with 110 points with the St. Louis Blues finishing a close second at 107 points.

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

Adams Division
Buffalo Sabres 80 39 20 21 327 250 1194 99
Boston Bruins 80 37 30 13 316 272 1836 87
Minnesota North Stars 80 35 28 17 291 263 1624 87
Quebec Nordiques 80 30 32 18 314 318 1524 78
Toronto Maple Leafs 80 28 37 15 322 367 1830 71


Norris Division
Montreal Canadiens 80 45 22 13 332 232 103
Los Angeles Kings 80 43 24 13 337 290 99
Pittsburgh Penguins 80 30 37 13 302 345 73
Hartford Whalers 80 21 41 18 292 372 60
Detroit Red Wings 80 19 43 18 252 339 56


Clarence Campbell Conference

Patrick Division
New York Islanders 80 48 18 14 355 260 110
Philadelphia Flyers 80 41 24 15 313 249 97
Calgary Flames 80 39 27 14 329 298 92
New York Rangers 80 30 36 14 312 317 74
Washington Capitals 80 26 36 18 286 317 70


Smythe Division
St. Louis Blues 80 45 18 17 352 281 107
Chicago Black Hawks 80 31 33 16 304 315 78
Vancouver Canucks 80 28 32 20 289 301 76
Edmonton Oilers 80 29 35 16 328 327 74
Colorado Rockies 80 22 45 13 258 344 57
Winnipeg Jets 80 9 57 14 246 400 32



The Stanley Cup playoffs would see the New York Islanders dominate on their way to winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup. Notably, in the first round against the Maple Leafs, the Isles swept a three-game series, outscoring Toronto 20-4. The Islanders would go on to defeat Edmonton in six games in the quarter-finals, and in the semi-finals, the Islanders swept the Rangers and outscored them 22-8.

In game one of the Edmonton-Montreal series, Wayne Gretzky had five assists. This was a single game playoff record.[2] Another distinction was in the Minnesota North Stars' sweep of the Boston Bruins; the two games the North Stars won in Boston Garden were the first games that the team had won in Boston, either regular season or playoff, since the team had joined the NHL in 1967.

Playoff bracket

  Preliminary Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
1 NY Islanders 3  
16 Toronto 0  
  1 NY Islanders 4  
  14 Edmonton 2  
2 St. Louis 3
15 Pittsburgh 2  
  1 NY Islanders 4  
  13 NY Rangers 0  
3 Montreal 0  
14 Edmonton 3  
  2 St. Louis 2
  13 NY Rangers 4  
4 Los Angeles 1
13 NY Rangers 3  
  1 NY Islanders 4
(Pairings are re-seeded after the first and second rounds.)
  9 Minnesota 1
5 Buffalo 3  
12 Vancouver 0  
  5 Buffalo 1
  9 Minnesota 4  
6 Philadelphia 3
11 Quebec 2  
  7 Calgary 2
  9 Minnesota 4  
7 Calgary 3  
10 Chicago 0  
  6 Philadelphia 3
  7 Calgary 4  
8 Boston 0
9 Minnesota 3  

Stanley Cup Finals

The Islanders easily defeated the Minnesota North Stars in the finals in five games. The Islanders would only be defeated three times during the playoffs.

New York Islanders vs. Minnesota North Stars

New York won series 4–1


1981 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Wales Conference regular season champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(Campbell Conference regular season champion)
New York Islanders
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Blake Dunlop, St. Louis Blues
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Peter Stastny, Quebec Nordiques
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Butch Goring, New York Islanders
Frank J. Selke Trophy:
(Top defensive forward)
Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Jack Adams Award:
(Best coach)
Gordon "Red" Berenson, St. Louis Blues
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Randy Carlyle, Pittsburgh Penguins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Rick Kehoe, Pittsburgh Penguins
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Mike Liut, St. Louis Blues
NHL Plus/Minus Award:
(Player with best plus/minus record)
Brian Engblom, Montreal Canadiens
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender(s) of team(s) with best goaltending record)
Denis Herron, Michel Larocque, & Richard Sevigny, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
Charles M. Schulz

All-Star teams

First Team   Position   Second Team
Mike Liut, St. Louis Blues G Mario Lessard, Los Angeles Kings
Denis Potvin, New York Islanders D Larry Robinson, Montreal Canadiens
Randy Carlyle, Pittsburgh Penguins D Ray Bourque, Boston Bruins
Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers C Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles Kings
Mike Bossy, New York Islanders RW Dave Taylor, Los Angeles Kings
Charlie Simmer, Los Angeles Kings LW Bill Barber, Philadelphia Flyers

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

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

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 80 55 109 164 28
Marcel Dionne Los Angeles Kings 80 58 77 135 70
Kent Nilsson Calgary Flames 80 49 82 131 26
Mike Bossy New York Islanders 79 68 51 119 32
Dave Taylor Los Angeles Kings 72 47 65 112 130
Peter Stastny Quebec Nordiques 77 39 70 109 37
Charlie Simmer Los Angeles Kings 65 56 49 105 62
Mike Rogers Hartford Whalers 80 40 65 105 32
Bernie Federko St. Louis Blues 78 31 73 104 47
Jacques Richard Quebec Nordiques 78 52 51 103 39
Rick Middleton Boston Bruins 80 44 59 103 16
Bryan Trottier New York Islanders 73 31 72 103 74

Source: NHL.[3]

Leading goaltenders

Player Team GP MIN GA SO GAA
Richard Sevigny Montreal 33 1777 71 2 2.40
Rick St. Croix Philadelphia 27 1567 65 2 2.49
Don Edwards Buffalo 45 2700 133 3 2.96
Pete Peeters Philadelphia 40 2333 115 2 2.96
Bob Sauve Buffalo 35 2100 111 2 3.17
Don Beaupre Minnesota 44 2585 138 0 3.20
Glenn Resch New York Islanders/Colorado 40 2266 121 3 3.20
Reggie Lemelin Calgary 29 1629 88 2 3.24
Gilles Meloche Minnesota 38 2215 120 2 3.25
Mario Lessard Los Angeles 64 3746 203 2 3.25



Patrick Division

Adams Division

Norris Division

Smythe Division



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1980–81 (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 1980–81 (listed with their last team):

1981 Trading Deadline

  • Trading Deadline: MARCH 10, 1981 [5]
  • March 8, 1981: Doug Halward traded from Los Angeles to Vancouver for Vancouver's fifth round choice in 1982 Entry Draft.
  • March 10, 1981: Bill Baker traded from Montreal to Colorado for Colorado's third round choice in 1983 Entry Draft.
  • March 10, 1981: Ken Berry and Garry Lariviere traded from Vancouver to Edmonton for Blair MacDonald and Lars-Gunnar Petersson.
  • March 10, 1981: Pat Hughes traded from Pittsburgh to Edmonton for Pat Price.
  • March 10, 1981: Jari Kaarela and Mike McEwen traded from Colorado to NY Islanders for Glenn Resch and Steve Tambellini.
  • March 10, 1981: Michel Larocque traded from Montreal to Toronto for Robert Picard.
  • March 10, 1981: Don Luce traded from Buffalo to Los Angeles for Los Angeles' sixth round choice in 1982 Entry Draft.
  • March 10, 1981: Ray Markham traded from NY Rangers to Edmonton for John Hughes.
  • March 10, 1981: Mario Marois traded from Vancouver to Quebec for Garry Lariviere.
  • March 10, 1981: Rick Martin traded from Buffalo to Los Angeles for Los Angeles' third round choice in 1981 Entry Draft and Los Angeles' first round choice in 1983 Entry Draft (Tom Barrasso).
  • March 10, 1981: Jim Rutherford traded from Toronto to Los Angeles for Los Angeles' fifth round choice in 1981 Entry Draft.
  • March 10, 1981: Garry Unger traded from Los Angeles to Edmonton for Edmonton's seventh round choice in 1981 Entry Draft.
  • March 10, 1981: Ron Zanussi and Minnesota's third round choice in 1981 Entry Draft traded from Minnesota to Toronto for Toronto's second round choice in 1981 Entry Draft.

See also


  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Hockey. Kingston, NY: Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-85-X.
  • 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.
  • Fischler, Stan; Fischler, Shirley; Hughes, Morgan; Romain, Joseph; Duplacey, James (2003). The Hockey Chronicle: Year-by-Year History of the National Hockey League. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International Inc. ISBN 0-7853-9624-1.
  • "1980-81 NHL Playoff Results". hockeyDB.com.
  1. ^ a b c d Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Dan Diamond & Associates. p. 152. ISBN 9781894801225.
  2. ^ Jenish, D'Arcy (2009). The Montreal Canadiens:100 Years of Glory. Doubleday. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-385-66325-0.
  3. ^ Dinger 2011, p. 152.
  4. ^ https://www.hockey-reference.com/leagues/NHL_1981_leaders.html
  5. ^ NHL trade deadline: Deals since 1980 | Habs Inside/Out Archived 2009-02-16 at the Wayback Machine

External links

1980 NHL Entry Draft

The 1980 NHL Entry Draft was held at the Montreal Forum. This was the first time that an NHL arena hosted the draft. The National Hockey League (NHL) teams selected 210 players eligible for entry into professional ranks, in the reverse order of the 1979–80 NHL season and playoff standings. This is the list of those players selected.

It was the first time the Forum hosted the draft. The hometown Montreal Canadiens used the first selection on Doug Wickenheiser.

1980–81 Boston Bruins season

The 1980–81 Boston Bruins season was the Bruins' 57th season.

1980–81 Buffalo Sabres season

The 1980–81 Buffalo Sabres season was the Sabres' 11th season of operation for the National Hockey League franchise that was established on May 22, 1970. The team won their second consecutive Adams Division

regular season championship. As of 2012 this is the only time the Buffalo Sabres have won consecutive division titles.

1980–81 Calgary Flames season

The 1980–81 Calgary Flames season was the first season in Calgary and ninth for the Flames in the National Hockey League. The Flames moved to southern Alberta from Atlanta, Georgia, where the franchise was known as the Atlanta Flames for the first eight years of its existence. The Flames became the third major-league team to represent the city of Calgary after the Calgary Tigers of the 1920s, and the Calgary Cowboys, which had folded in 1977.

The Flames were purchased for $16 million USD by Nelson Skalbania in the spring of 1980. Before the sale was even announced, he had already sold 50% of the franchise to a group of Calgary-based investors including Harley Hotchkiss and Normie Kwong. On May 21, 1980, it was announced that the franchise was moving to Calgary. While the Cowboys could not manage 2,000 season tickets three years previous, the Flames sold 10,000 full and half-season ticket packages in 1980, selling out the Stampede Corral for every game played there.The Flames' first game was played October 9, ending as a 5–5 tie to the Quebec Nordiques. While still in the East-coast dominated Patrick Division, the Flames finished 3rd, and qualified for the playoffs. The franchise, which had won just two playoff games in Atlanta, won two playoff series in their first year in Calgary. After sweeping the Chicago Black Hawks, Calgary then downed the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games before falling to the Minnesota North Stars in the league semi-final.

Kent Nilsson led the Flames in scoring, and his 82 assists and 131 points remain franchise records to this day. Nilsson was also the Flames lone representative at the 1981 All-Star Game.

1980–81 Chicago Black Hawks season

The 1980–81 Chicago Black Hawks season was the 55th season of operation of the Chicago Black Hawks in the National Hockey League.

1980–81 Colorado Rockies season

The 1980–81 Colorado Rockies season was the Rockies' fifth season, and seventh season of the franchise. Like five of the previous six seasons, the Rockies did not qualify for the playoffs.

1980–81 Detroit Red Wings season

The 1980–81 Detroit Red Wings season was the Red Wings' 49th season, 55th overall for the franchise.

1980–81 Los Angeles Kings season

The 1980–81 Los Angeles Kings season saw the Kings make it to the playoffs, losing in the preliminary round to the New York Rangers.

1980–81 Montreal Canadiens season

The 1980–81 Montreal Canadiens season was the club's 72nd season of play. The Canadiens lost just once in their last twenty-seven home games. The Canadiens would earn at least 100 regular season points for the seventh consecutive season. Montreal qualified for the playoffs and were eliminated in the NHL's Preliminary round by the Edmonton Oilers three games to none. Four days after the Canadiens were eliminated, head coach Claude Ruel resigned.

1980–81 New York Islanders season

The 1980-81 New York Islanders season was the ninth season in the franchise's history. It involved winning the Stanley Cup.

1980–81 New York Rangers season

The 1980–81 New York Rangers season was the 55th season for the team in the National Hockey League (NHL). In the regular season, the Rangers finished in fourth place in the Patrick Division with 74 points and earned a berth in the playoffs. New York won series with the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues to reach the NHL semi-finals, where the team was defeated by the New York Islanders in a four-game sweep.

1980–81 Pittsburgh Penguins season

The 1980–81 Pittsburgh Penguins season was their 14th in the National Hockey League.

1980–81 Toronto Maple Leafs season

The 1980–81 Toronto Maple Leafs season was the Toronto Maple Leafs 64th season of the franchise, 54th season as the Maple Leafs.

1980–81 Vancouver Canucks season

The 1980–81 Vancouver Canucks season was the team's 11th in the National Hockey League (NHL). They finished 3rd in the Smythe Division, scoring 289 goals and allowing 301.

1980–81 Washington Capitals season

The 1980–81 Washington Capitals season was the Washington Capitals seventh season in the National Hockey League (NHL).

1980–81 Winnipeg Jets season

The 1980–81 Winnipeg Jets season was the Winnipeg Jets' second season in the National Hockey League. In the 1980-81 season they finished fifth (and last) in the NHL's Smythe Division. The team scored 246 goals and conceded 400 goals. The Jets won 9 games, lost 57 games and tied 14 games. They scored 32 points.

The Jets were coached by Tom McVie (1 win, 20 losses and 7 ties), Bill Sutherland (6 wins, 20 losses and 3 ties),and Mike Smith (2 wins, 17 losses and 4 ties).

1981 Stanley Cup Finals

The 1981 Stanley Cup Finals was the championship series of the National Hockey League's (NHL) 1980–81 season, and the culmination of the 1981 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was contested by the Minnesota North Stars, making their first Finals appearance, and the defending champion New York Islanders, in their second Finals appearance. The Islanders would win the best-of-seven series, four games to one, to win their second Stanley Cup championship. This would be the last all-American Finals until 1991, when the North Stars faced the Pittsburgh Penguins. Butch Goring won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the playoffs.

33rd National Hockey League All-Star Game

The 33rd National Hockey League All-Star Game was held in The Forum in Inglewood, home to the Los Angeles Kings, on February 10, 1981.

List of Atlanta Flames head coaches

There were three head coaches of the Atlanta Flames in the team's history before the team moved to Calgary before the 1980–81 NHL season.

May 12 Minnesota North Stars 3–6 New York Islanders Nassau Coliseum
May 14 Minnesota North Stars 3–6 New York Islanders Nassau Coliseum
May 17 New York Islanders 7–5 Minnesota North Stars Met Center
May 19 New York Islanders 2–4 Minnesota North Stars Met Center
May 21 Minnesota North Stars 1–5 New York Islanders Nassau Coliseum
1980–81 NHL season
See also

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