The 1996–97 NHL season was the 80th regular season of the National Hockey League. The Stanley Cup winners were the Detroit Red Wings, who swept the Philadelphia Flyers in four games and won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 42 years.
The regular season saw a decline in scoring and rise in the number of shutouts to an all-time record of 127. This trend continued into the playoffs, during which an all-time record of 18 shutouts were recorded. Only two players, Mario Lemieux and Teemu Selanne, reached the 100-point plateau during the regular season (compared with 12 who reached the plateau in 1995–96). Many factors, including fewer power plays, more calls of the skate-in-the-crease rule, fewer shots on goal and more injuries to star players than the season before, contributed to the reduction in scoring and skyrocketing in shutouts. Paradoxically, teams averaged more even-strength goals scored (174) than in 1995–96 (172).
This was the first time in 30 years—and in the entire expansion era—that the Boston Bruins had a losing record and missed the playoffs, ending a still-unsurpassed North American professional sports streak of 29-straight seasons in the playoffs.
|1996–97 NHL season|
|League||National Hockey League|
|Duration||October 4, 1996 – June 7, 1997|
|Number of games||82|
|Number of teams||26|
|Top draft pick||Chris Phillips|
|Picked by||Ottawa Senators|
|Presidents' Trophy||Colorado Avalanche|
|Season MVP||Dominik Hasek (Sabres)|
|Top scorer||Mario Lemieux (Penguins)|
|Eastern champions||Philadelphia Flyers|
|Eastern runners-up||New York Rangers|
|Western champions||Detroit Red Wings|
|Western runners-up||Colorado Avalanche|
|Playoffs MVP||Mike Vernon (Red Wings)|
|Champions||Detroit Red Wings|
On March 25, 1997, the Hartford Whalers announced that they would move from Connecticut following the 1996–97 season. Starting in the 1997–98 NHL season, they would be known as the Carolina Hurricanes.
The 1996–97 season marked the retirement of Craig MacTavish, the last active NHL player who played without a protective helmet. MacTavish had been grandfathered under the old rule requiring them to be worn because he had signed a pro contract before the rule was established on June 1, 1979. The first player to ever wear a helmet was George Owen in the 1928–29 season.
The Boston Bruins recorded the League's worst record, missing the playoffs for the first time in 30 seasons and ending the longest consecutive playoff streak ever recorded in the history of North American professional sports.
On November 16, 1996, the eight-sided scoreboard at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo crashed to the ice during a maintenance check. The accident occurred only 90 minutes after the visiting Boston Bruins players had conducted their morning practice. No-one was injured, but the game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Bruins was postponed.
|1||1||New Jersey Devils||82||45||23||14||231||182||104|
|4||5||New York Rangers||82||38||34||10||258||231||86|
|6||11||Tampa Bay Lightning||82||32||40||10||217||247||74|
|7||12||New York Islanders||82||29||41||12||240||250||70|
|1||New Jersey Devils||ATL||82||45||23||14||231||182||104|
|5||New York Rangers||ATL||82||38||34||10||258||231||86|
|11||Tampa Bay Lightning||ATL||82||32||40||10||217||247||74|
|12||New York Islanders||ATL||82||29||41||12||240||250||70|
Divisions: ATL – Atlantic, NE – Northeast
bold – Qualified for playoffs
|2||3||Detroit Red Wings||82||38||26||18||253||197||94|
|4||6||St. Louis Blues||82||36||35||11||236||239||83|
|6||11||Toronto Maple Leafs||82||30||44||8||230||273||68|
|2||4||Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||82||36||33||13||243||231||85|
|6||12||Los Angeles Kings||82||28||43||11||214||268||67|
|7||13||San Jose Sharks||82||27||47||8||211||278||62|
|1||p – Colorado Avalanche||PAC||82||49||24||9||277||205||107|
|3||Detroit Red Wings||CEN||82||38||26||18||253||197||94|
|4||Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||PAC||82||36||33||13||245||233||85|
|6||St. Louis Blues||CEN||82||36||35||11||236||239||83|
|11||Toronto Maple Leafs||CEN||82||30||44||8||230||273||68|
|12||Los Angeles Kings||PAC||82||28||43||11||214||268||67|
|13||San Jose Sharks||PAC||82||27||47||8||211||278||62|
Divisions: CEN – Central, PAC – Pacific
bold – Qualified for playoffs; p – Won Presidents' Trophy
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF= Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
|Detroit vs. Philadelphia|
Detroit wins series 4–0 and Stanley Cup
|Conference Quarterfinals||Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||Stanley Cup Final|
|5||NY Rangers||4||5||NY Rangers||4|
|(Pairings are re-seeded after the first round.)|
|6||St. Louis||2||Western Conference|
The NHL Awards presentation took place on June 19, 1997.
|Presidents' Trophy:||Colorado Avalanche|
|Prince of Wales Trophy:||Philadelphia Flyers|
|Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:||Detroit Red Wings|
|Art Ross Trophy:||Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:||Tony Granato, San Jose Sharks|
|Calder Memorial Trophy:||Bryan Berard, New York Islanders|
|Conn Smythe Trophy:||Mike Vernon, Detroit Red Wings|
|Frank J. Selke Trophy:||Michael Peca, Buffalo Sabres|
|Hart Memorial Trophy:||Dominik Hasek, Buffalo Sabres|
|Jack Adams Award:||Ted Nolan, Buffalo Sabres|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy:||Brian Leetch, New York Rangers|
|King Clancy Memorial Trophy:||Trevor Linden, Vancouver Canucks|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:||Paul Kariya, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim|
|Lester B. Pearson Award:||Dominik Hasek, Buffalo Sabres|
|NHL Plus/Minus Award:||John LeClair, Philadelphia Flyers|
|Vezina Trophy:||Dominik Hasek, Buffalo Sabres|
|William M. Jennings Trophy:||Martin Brodeur/Mike Dunham, New Jersey Devils|
|Lester Patrick Trophy:||Bill Cleary, Pat LaFontaine, Seymour H. Knox III|
|First Team||Position||Second Team|
|Dominik Hasek, Buffalo Sabres||G||Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils|
|Brian Leetch, New York Rangers||D||Chris Chelios, Chicago Blackhawks|
|Sandis Ozolinsh, Colorado Avalanche||D||Scott Stevens, New Jersey Devils|
|Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins||C||Wayne Gretzky, New York Rangers|
|Teemu Selanne, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||RW||Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Paul Kariya, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||LW||John LeClair, Philadelphia Flyers|
Note: GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points
|Martin Brodeur||New Jersey||67||3838||120||10||1.88|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1996–97 (listed with their first team, asterisk (*) marks debut in playoffs):
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1996–97 (listed with their last team):
The 1996 NHL Entry Draft was held at the Kiel Center in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 22, 1996.1996–97 Boston Bruins season
The 1996–97 Boston Bruins season was the Boston Bruins' 73rd season of operation in the National Hockey League (NHL). The Bruins finished with the worst record in the NHL and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1967.1996–97 Chicago Blackhawks season
The 1996–97 Chicago Blackhawks season was the 71st season of operation of the Chicago Blackhawks in the National Hockey League.1996–97 Dallas Stars season
The 1996–97 Dallas Stars season was the fourth National Hockey League season in Dallas, Texas (and 30th as a franchise) as they attempted to bounce back from their dismal last place finish in the Central Division, which they would, finishing first, clinching the first Division title for Dallas. They would face off against the Edmonton Oilers in the Conference Quarterfinals, playing a tough series, losing 4-3.1996–97 Los Angeles Kings season
The 1996–97 Los Angeles Kings season was the Kings' thirtieth season of operation in the National Hockey League (NHL). The Kings failed to make the playoffs.1996–97 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim season
The 1996–97 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim season was the fourth season in franchise history. The team qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in franchise history.1996–97 Montreal Canadiens season
The 1996–97 Montreal Canadiens season was the club's 88th season. The Canadiens qualified for the playoffs despite a sub-.500 season. The Canadiens were eliminated in the Eastern Conference quarter-finals (the first round) by the New Jersey Devils 4 games to 1.1996–97 New York Rangers season
The 1996–97 New York Rangers season was the Rangers' 71st season. The highlight of the season was that it was Wayne Gretzky's first season in New York.
The Rangers qualified for the playoffs as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, and advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they were defeated by the Philadelphia Flyers. This marked the last playoff appearance for the Rangers until the 2005–06 season.1996–97 Ottawa Senators season
The 1996–97 Ottawa Senators season was the fifth season of the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL). This season saw great improvement by the club, as the team finished out of last place in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the first time in team history, and went on to qualify for the 1997 Stanley Cup playoffs as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, the Senators lost in the first round (Conference quarter-finals) to the Buffalo Sabres.1996–97 San Jose Sharks season
The 1996–97 San Jose Sharks season was the Sharks' sixth season of operation in the National Hockey League. The Sharks again failed to make the playoffs, finishing 13th in the Western Conference.1996–97 Toronto Maple Leafs season
The 1996–97 Toronto Maple Leafs season was Toronto's 80th season in the National Hockey League (NHL).
The Maple Leafs entered the 1996–97 NHL season with the hopes of making the post-season for the fifth consecutive year. Mike Murphy was hired prior to the season as the head coach replacing interim coach Nick Beverley. The team played mediocre for most of the season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1992. This season, would be Cliff Fletcher's last as General Manager of the Maple Leafs. In one of his final moves, Fletcher (in February) traded Captain Doug Gilmour to the New Jersey Devils.1996–97 Vancouver Canucks season
The 1996–97 Vancouver Canucks season was the team's 27th in the National Hockey League (NHL).1996–97 Washington Capitals season
The 1996–97 Washington Capitals season was the team's 23rd season of play. The Capitals finished fifth in the division, and ninth in the conference, and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1982.1997 National Hockey League All-Star Game
The 1997 National Hockey League All-Star Game took place on January 18, 1997, at San Jose Arena in San Jose, home of the San Jose Sharks. The final score was Eastern Conference 11, Western Conference 7. This game was originally scheduled for the 1994–95 season, but was cancelled due to the 1994–95 NHL lockout.1997 Stanley Cup Finals
The 1997 Stanley Cup Finals was the championship series of the National Hockey League's (NHL) 1996–97 season, and the culmination of the 1997 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was contested by the Detroit Red Wings and the Philadelphia Flyers. Detroit was in the Final for the second time in three years (the other coming in 1995, when they lost to the New Jersey Devils) while the Flyers were making their first appearance since losing in 1987 to the Edmonton Oilers. Detroit won the series in four games to win the Stanley Cup for the eighth time in franchise history and the first time since 1955; Philadelphia had not won since 1975. Detroit was the last team to win the Cup without having home ice advantage in the Finals and with fewer than 100 points earned during the regular season until 2009.Colorado Avalanche–Detroit Red Wings brawl
The Avalanche–Red Wings brawl was a large-scale on-ice melee that occurred March 26, 1997, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, between two National Hockey League (NHL) rivals: the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings. The brawl, which has been nicknamed Bloody Wednesday, Fight Night at the Joe and Brawl in Hockeytown, stemmed from a previous on-ice incident between the two teams during the 1996 Western Conference Finals.Legion of Doom (ice hockey)
The Legion of Doom was a forward line for the Philadelphia Flyers who played together between 1995 and 1997 comprising centre Eric Lindros, left winger John LeClair and right winger Mikael Renberg. They were given this name not only for their offensive play, but also their ability to dominate games physically; each of the three were six foot two or taller and weighed over 230 pounds. The name was coined by journeyman centre Jim Montgomery and popularized by Flyers announcer Gene Hart.Paul Theriault
Paul Theriault (born 1950) is a Canadian former ice hockey coach. He served as an assistant coach in the National Hockey League with the Buffalo Sabres during the 1996–97 NHL season.
Theriault is the longest-serving coach in the history of the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He also served as an OHL head coach for both the Erie Otters and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Theriault was awarded the 1986–87 Matt Leyden Trophy as the OHL Coach of the Year.
At the professional level, Theriault was an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres during the 1996–97 NHL season when Ted Nolan won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's Coach of the Year. He has also served as head coach for the Flint Spirits of the International Hockey League and the HC Asiago of the Italian Serie A.Paxton Schafer
Paxton Schafer (born February 26, 1976) is a Canadian retired professional ice hockey goaltender.
Schafer was drafted 47th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft and played three games for them during the 1996-97 NHL season.
1996–97 NHL season
The 2004–05 season was cancelled due to a lockout.