The 1951–52 NHL season was the 35th season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup by sweeping the Montreal Canadiens four games to none.
Chicago, who had made the mammoth nine player deal the previous season, now decided to make the largest cash deal for players to this time by paying $75,000 for Jim McFadden, George Gee, Jimmy Peters, Clare Martin, Clare Raglan and Max McNab.
Conn Smythe offered $10,000 for anyone who found Bill Barilko, missing since August 26. Barilko and Dr. Henry Hudson had left Rupert House on James Bay in the doctor's light plane for Timmins, Ontario, after a weekend fishing trip and had not been found.
For the fourth straight season, the Detroit Red Wings finished first overall in the National Hockey League.
Montreal opened the season before a crowd of 15,100 fans as the Canadiens beat Chicago 4–2. Rocket Richard had a goal and Bernie Geoffrion had two. On the same night, Terry Sawchuk had his first shutout of the season as Detroit beat Boston 1–0.
Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were in attendance at the Montreal Forum, and Floyd Curry came alive with the hat trick and Richard scored two goals as Montreal beat the New York Rangers 6–1.
Inspired by the return of Black Jack Stewart to the lineup, Chicago had a rare trouncing of the Red Wings right at the Olympia, 6–2. During the game, Chicago's Gus Bodnar twisted his shoulder and Harry Lumley hurt a knee. Trainer Moe Roberts, who played his first game in the NHL for Boston in 1925–26, played the rest of the way in goal for Chicago and played quite well at age 46. Roberts would stand as the oldest person to ever play an NHL game until Gordie Howe returned to the NHL at age 51 in 1979.
Chicago wasn't drawing well and so they decided to experiment with afternoon games. It worked, as the largest crowd of the season, 13,600 fans, showed up for a January 20 game in which Chicago lost to Toronto 3–1.
Elmer Lach night was held March 8 at the Forum in Montreal as the Canadiens tied Chicago 4–4. 14,452 fans were on hand to see Lach presented with a car, rowboat, TV set, deepfreeze chest, bedroom and dining room suites, a refrigerator and many other articles.
On the last night of the season, March 23, 1952, with nothing at stake at Madison Square Garden, 3,254 fans saw Chicago's Bill Mosienko score the fastest hat trick in NHL history, 3 goals in 21 seconds. Lorne Anderson was the goaltender who gave up the goals to Chicago. Gus Bodnar also set a record with the fastest three assists in NHL history as he assisted on all three goals Mosienko scored. Chicago beat the New York Rangers 7–6.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|National Hockey League||GP||W||L||T||Pts||GF||GA|
|Detroit Red Wings||70||44||14||12||100||215||133|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||70||29||25||16||74||168||157|
|New York Rangers||70||23||34||13||59||192||219|
|Chicago Black Hawks||70||17||44||9||43||158||241|
Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|Gordie Howe||Detroit Red Wings||70||47||39||86||78|
|Ted Lindsay||Detroit Red Wings||70||30||39||69||123|
|Elmer Lach||Montreal Canadiens||70||15||50||65||36|
|Don Raleigh||New York Rangers||70||19||42||61||14|
|Sid Smith||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||27||30||57||6|
|Bernie Geoffrion||Montreal Canadiens||67||30||24||54||66|
|Bill Mosienko||Chicago Black Hawks||70||31||22||53||10|
|Sid Abel||Detroit Red Wings||70||17||36||53||32|
|Ted Kennedy||Toronto Maple Leafs||70||19||33||52||33|
|Milt Schmidt||Boston Bruins||69||21||29||50||57|
In the playoffs, Detroit finished 8–0, the first time a team had gone undefeated in the playoffs since the 1934–35 Montreal Maroons. The Wings scored 24 goals in the playoffs, compared to a combined 5 goals for their opponents.
|Semi-finals||Stanley Cup Final|
|1||Detroit Red Wings||4|
|3||Toronto Maple Leafs||0|
|1||Detroit Red Wings||4|
|Prince of Wales Trophy:||Detroit Red Wings|
|Art Ross Trophy:||Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings|
|Calder Memorial Trophy:||Bernie Geoffrion, Montreal Canadiens|
|Hart Memorial Trophy:||Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:||Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Vezina Trophy:||Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings|
|First team||Position||Second team|
|Terry Sawchuk, Detroit Red Wings||G||Jim Henry, Boston Bruins|
|Red Kelly, Detroit Red Wings||D||Hy Buller, New York Rangers|
|Doug Harvey, Montreal Canadiens||D||Jimmy Thomson, Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Elmer Lach, Montreal Canadiens||C||Milt Schmidt, Boston Bruins|
|Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings||RW||Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens|
|Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Wings||LW||Sid Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs|
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1951–52 (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 1951–52 (listed with their last team):