1959-60 was a junction point in eras for the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens won their fifth of five consecutive Stanley Cup championships. After the victory, a sweep of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal great Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard called it a career. With that, a dynasty had come to an end. An era of futility began in Boston. The Bruins did not qualify for the post season in 1959-60, the first of eight consecutive years.
Bobby Hull led the Chicago Black Hawks with 81 points and captured his first of three Art Ross Trophies. Hull’s total was down drastically from the previous year’s winner, Dickie Moore, who set a record with 96 points. It was certainly the start of a winning era in Chicago with Stan Mikita playing his first year with the Black Hawks. Just a shadow of the Art Ross and Lady Byng winner to come, Mikita had 26 points and sat 119 minutes in the penalty box.
Bronco Horvath of the Boston Bruins had a career year, finishing just one point behind Hull and tying Bobby for the most goals in the NHL with 39. The Bruins had the second highest offense in the league but also the second worst defense. The team finished fifth, three points behind the Red Wings for the final playoff spot.
Playing only 60 of his team’s 70 regular season games, Jean Beliveau led the Montreal Canadiens with 74 points. The previous year’s leader, Dickie Moore, fell sharply with 32 less points than the year before. The Habs finished first overall with a 13 point cushion between them and second place Toronto. Montreal swept their way to their fifth consecutive Stanley Cup, taking out Chicago in the opening round and the Maple Leafs in the finals.
Andy Bathgate was one again the leader of the New York Rangers with 74 points, tying Jean Beliveau for third in the NHL. The Rangers had a dismal season, placing sixth with just 49 points, 15 points behind fifth place Boston. New York allowed a league high 247 goals while using five different goaltenders during the season. The Rangers would suffer a similar fate as the Boston Bruins during the 1960’s, missing the post season six times in the decade and not winning a single playoff series.
As usual, Gordie Howe led the Detroit Red Wings. Howe’s 73 points placed him tied for fifth in the league with Henri Richard of the Canadiens. Detroit inched into the playoffs, taking fourth place by a three point margin over the Bruins. The Red Wings fell to the Maple Leafs in six games in the opening round.
Bob Pulford led the second place Toronto Maple Leafs with just 52 points, just one point more than teammate George Armstrong. For the second year in a row, after finishing last in 1957-58, the Maple Leafs found themselves in the Stanley Cup finals. As mentioned, Toronto was soundly beaten by Montreal in the finals, outscored 15-5 in the four game sweep.