October 8, 1971
The NHL dropped the puck to open its 55th season on Friday, October 8, 1971. Fourteen teams, in two divisions, each played 78 regular season games in the hopes of qualifying for the playoffs and hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. Making his highly anticipated debut with the Montreal Canadiens was number one draft pick and future hall of famer Guy Lafleur. Other players of note making their NHL debut during the 1971-72 season included - Marcel Dionne*, Detroit Red Wings; Rick Kehoe, Toronto Maple Leafs; Rick Martin, Buffalo Sabres; Terry O’Reilly, Boston Bruins; Craig Ramsay, Buffalo Sabres; Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, Philadelphia Flyers and Billy Smith*, Los Angeles Kings. Playing in his final eight NHL games, as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, this season was future hall of famer Dick Duff.
|1971-72 NHL TEAMS|
|EAST DIVISION||WEST DIVISION|
|Boston Bruins||California Golden Seals|
|Buffalo Sabres||Chicago Black Hawks|
|Detroit Red Wings||Los Angeles Kings|
|Montreal Canadiens||Minnesota North Stars|
|New York Rangers||Philadelphia Flyers|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Vancouver Canucks||St. Louis Blues|
The 1971-72 season would be the last full season in Cleveland for the Barons of the AHL. After playing 76 regular season games the Barons finished in fourth place in the West Division with a record of 32-34-10, qualifying for the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Barons lost in the division semi-finals to the Baltimore Clippers four games to two. Three Barons players, Fred Harvey, Terry Caffery and Gord Labossiere, were among the AHL’s scoring leaders during the regular season, finishing second, third and fourth respectively. Caffery would be awarded the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL Rookie-of-the-Year at the end of the season.
*Hall of Famer