Scoring 50 goals in one NHL season is still the standard that all goal scorers try to achieve. Since the NHL began playing at least 50 games per season in 1942-43, only 90 players have ever scored 50 goals or more in a season. The first player to score 50 goals in one season was Maurice “the Rocket” Richard for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1944-45 season.
At the time, NHL teams only played 50 games per season. Richard scored his 50th goal in the 50th game of the season. For anyone doing the math, Richard averaged 1 goal per game which is something that NHL purists still look to when evaluating truly great goal scorers. This is important as the NHL ultimately increased their games per season to 82 over the years.
Richard’s feat was impressive in that it took 16 more seasons before another player scored 50 goals in one season. That player was Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, also of the Montreal Canadiens. Geoffrion scored 50 goals exactly but accomplished his feat in 64 games.
The 3rd player in the NHL to ever score 50 goals in a season was Bobby Hull during the 1961-62 season when he accomplished the feat in a 70 game season. Bobby Hull joined the 50 goal club when he scored his 50th goal during the final game of the season. Hull went on to score 50 goals in a season a total of 5 times in his career. Bobby Hull scored 50 goals during the 1965-66 season (54), 1966-67 (52) and 1968-69 (58) seasons.
The next player to reach 50 goals in a season was Phil Esposito of the Boston Bruins in 1970-71. Esposito notched 76 goals that season reaching his 50th goal of the season in his 78th game. This was also the new record for goals in a season. That same year, Johnny Bucyk, also of the Bruins, scored 51 goals only to be overshadowed by the number of goals scored by Esposito, his teammate. Phil Esposito went on to score 50 goals in a season four more times in his career for a total of 5 straight years.
During the 1971-72 season, in addition to Esposito with 66 goals and Hull with 50, Vic Hadfield of the NY Rangers also scored 50 goals in 78 games.
During the 1972-73 season, Esposito accomplished the feat once again with 55 goals but this time was joined by Rick Macleish of the Philadelphia Flyers (50) and Mickey Redmond of the Detroit Red Wings (52). By 1973-74, Esposito did it again for the 4th time scoring 68 that season, Mickey Redmond tallied 51 goals while Ken Hodge of the Boston Bruins had 50 and Rick Martin of the Buffalo Sabres had 52 goals.
In 1974-75 season, four players scored 50 goals or more which included Rick Martin for the second time with 52 goals, Danny Grant of the Detroit Red Wings with 50 goals while Guy Lafleur of the Montreal Canadiens scored 50 goals for the first time in his hall of fame career (53) and Esposito for the 5th time with 6 goals that season.
In the year 1975-76, a then record 6 players scored 50 goals or more in one season. Bill Barber of the Philadelphia Flyers and Danny Gare of the Buffalo Sabres each scored 50 goals that season, Jean Pronovost and teammate Pierre Larouche of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored 52 and 53 goals respectively while Guy Lafleur scored 50 goals for the 2nd time (56) while Reggie Leach of the Philadelphia Flyers led the league with 61 goals.
In the 1976-77 season, Guy Lafleur tallied 56 goals for the third time surpassing the 50 goal plateau while teammate (and linemate) Steve Shutt led the league with 60 goals that same season, the only time he ever scored 50 goals in a season. The great Marcel Dionne of the Los Angeles Kings scored 53 goals for the first time in start of his hall of fame career.
1977-78 saw Guy Lafleur achieve the 50 goal plateau for the 4th time in his illustrious career as he tallied 60 goals that season. This was also the first season that the great Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders scored 50 goals in a season as he put the puck in the net 53 times that season.
1978-79 looked just like the 1976 and 1977 seasons as Mike Bossy led the league that year with 69 goals (his second), Marcel Dionne had 59 goals (his second), Guy Lafleur tallied 52 goals (his 5th) while the Guy Chouinard had 50 goals for the then Atlanta Flames.
The goal scoring explosion continued the following season in 1979-80 as a whopping 9 players scored 50 goals or more. Reggie Leach (Flyers- -his second), Guy Lafleur (his 6th) and Pierre Larouche, who was now with the Montreal Canadiens, all netted 50 goals. A young lad named Wayne Gretzky of the expansion Edmonton Oilers (newly admitted from the WHA) and Mike Bossy (his 3rd) each had 51 goals. The Great One, as Gretzky would become known, as was only 19 years of age at the time. Marcel Dionne scored 50 goals for the 3rd time (53), Danny Gare of the Sabres (2nd time), Charlie Simmer of the Los Angeles Kings and Blaine Stoughton of the newly admitted WHA team Hartford Whalers led the league with 56 goals apiece.
The 1980-81 season was led in goal scoring by Mike Bossy with 68 goals, topping the 50 goal mark for the 4th time (all in a row). Marcel Dionne netted 58 goals for the 4th time while linemate Charlie Simmer had 56 (2nd time). Wayne Gretzky scored 55 goals (2nd time) and was tied that season by Pittsburgh Penguins forward Rick Kehoe. Wayne Babych of the St. Louis Blues tallied 54 goals, Jacques Richard of the Quebec Nordiques had 52 goals and Dennis Maruk of the Washington Capitals potted 50 goals.
The 1981-82 season saw a new record 10 players net 50 goals or more. This was the most amazing goal scoring year in the history of the NHL. Wayne Gretzky scored the most goals in any season up til then and still standing today, a whopping 92 goals! Even more amazing was that Gretzky put up his 50th goal in his 39th game of the season going out in style with 5 goals in that 39th game of the season!!! This was Gretzky’s third time scoring 50 goals or more. Mike Bossy netted 64 goals for the 5th time, a distant 28 goals from the leader that season and he had 64 goals. Dennis Maruk had 60 goals for the second time in his career, Dino Ciccarelli of the Minnesota North Stars had 55 goals, Rick Vaive of the Toronto Maple Leafs had 54, Blaine Stoughton had 52 goals for the second time in his career followed by Rick Middleton of the Boston Bruins with 51 goals. Netting 50 goals that season were future Hall of Famers Marcel Dionne for the 5th time, Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers and Bryan Trottier for the New York Islanders, who was Mike Bossy’s center.
The 1982-83 season was led by Wayne Gretzky again, this time with 71 goals (his 4th), Lanny McDonald, big mustache and all, scored 66 goals while Mike Bossy had 60 goals for the 6th time. Michel Goulet of the Quebec Nordiques had 57, Marcel Dionne netted 56 for the 6th time while Al Secord of the Chicago Blackhawks had 54 and Rick Vaive did it a second time with 51 goals for the Leafs.
In 1983-84, an amazing 3 players from the same team, the star studded Edmonton Oilers, accomplished the feat. Three from the same team. Think about that for just a second before reading on. Wayne Gretzky found the back of the net 87 times (his 5th) and the second highest ever to his 92 goals while teammates Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri had 53 and 52 goals respectively for the Cup Champion Oilers. So much for a checking line on an opposing team. That same year, Michel Goulet of the Nordiques had 56 goals (2nd time), Rick Vaive had 52 (3rd time) and Mike Bossy had 51 goals for the Islanders for his 7th time in a row. Tim Kerr for the Philadelphia Flyers popped in 54 goals while Mike Bullard of the Pittsburgh Penguins had 51.
1984-85 season saw a great deal of scoring again as 9 players netted 50 goals or more. The league was led once again by Gretzky with a league leading 73 goals (his 6th) just edging out his teammate Jari Kurri who scored 71 goals (his second). Super Sniper Mike Bossy scored 58 goals reaching 50 goals for his 8th consecutive season. Michel Goulet had 55 goals (3rd time) which tied with John Ogrodnick of the Detroit Red Wings for only the 4th highest goal scorer that season. Tim Kerr of the Flyers did it for the second time in his career with 54 goals while Bobby Carpenter and Mike Gartner of the Washington Capitals each reached the 50 goal plateau for the first time in their careers with 53 and 50 respectively. Sandwiched in between was Dale Hawerchuck of the Winnipeg Jets franchise with 53 goals.
The year of 1985-86 was a year that only players who previously had scored 50 goals or more netted over 50 goals that season. Jari Kurri, 68, Glenn Anderson 54 and Wayne Gretzky with 52, all of the Oilers (again having three guys from the same team) accomplished this feat for the 3rd, 2nd and 7th times respectively. Mike Bossy netted over 50 goals once again for his 9th straight season but the last time in his career. Bossy would have done it more I can assure you if not for injuries that shortened his career. Tim Kerr had 58 for his 3rd time and Michel Goulet had 53 goals for the 4th time with the Nordiques.
1986-87 saw a drop in the number of players scoring 50 goals or more as only 5 players reached the magical number. Wayne Gretzky led the league with 62 goals (8th time) while fellow linemate Jari Kurri had 54 goals for his 4th time. Tim Kerr tallied 58 goals for the 4th time while Dino Ciccarelli did it again with 52 goals. 1986-87 was the first year that Super Mario Lemeiux netted 50 goals or more ending up with 54 for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The 1987-88 campaign was the first that Mario Lemieux led the league netting 70 goals that season, his second. Craig Simpson, who spent part of the season with the Penguins and part with the Oilers, had 56 goals. Jimmy Carson and Luc Robataille, both of the Los Angeles Kings each had 50 plus scoring seasons as Carson had 55 goals and Robataille tallied 53. Joe Nieuwenkyk of the Calgary Flames dented the twine 51 times for the first time in his career while in Detroit, Hockey Town, Steve Yzerman planted 50 goals in the back of the net in only 64 games. Hakan Loob of the Calgary Flames and Stephane Richer of the Montreal Canadiens each had 50 goals that season as well. Note to self, notice that Wayne Gretzky did not score 50 goals that season.
1988-89 season was led by Mario Lemieux (third time) once again with 85 goals. Next closest was Bernie Nicholls of the LA Kings who netted 70. Steve Yzerman had 65 goals for the 2nd time while Wayne Gretzky tallied 54 for the 9th time. Joe Nieuwendyk (2nd time) of the Calgary Flames as well as teammate Joe Mullen each had 51 goal campaigns.
1989-90 season had a new fresh face lead the league as Brett Hull of the St. Louis Blues netted an impressive 72 goals, the first fifty goal season of his career. Steve Yzerman had 62 goals for the third time while Cam Neely of the Boston Bruins netted his first fifty goal season with 55. Brian Bellows of the Minnesota North Stars also had 55 goals. Pat LaFontaine of the New York Islanders scored 54 times for the first time and Luc Robataille did it again for the second time with 52 goals as did Stephane Richer scored 51 goals. Gary Leeman of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored 51 goals for the first time in his career.
The season of 1990-91 saw a short list of 50 goal scorers, only 4, but quite a group. Brett Hull netted a season high 86 goals to best the second 50 goal scorer of the season by 35 goals!! This was Hull’s second 50 goal season for the Blues. Neely and Stevie Y both netted 50 goals for the 2nd and 4th times with 51 goals each while Theo Fleury scored 51 goals for the Calgary Flames.
The 1991-92 season again saw only 4 players put up 50 goals in a season. Brett Hull continued his assault on goalies with 70 goals for the 3rd time in his career. Hull had now surpassed the 50 goal threshold for three seasons without ever netting 50 or even 60 goals. No, he had to put up 70 or more goals in each of his first 50 goal seasons. Kevin Stevens had 54 goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins benefitting from having Super Mario as a linemate. Gary Roberts, the latest Calgary Flame to the list, had 53 goals, his first 50 goal season. Jeremy Roenick of the Chicago Black Hawks netted 53 goals for the first of his mulitple 50 goal seasons.
Then we get to the 1992-93 season and it might be easier to list the non-50 goal scorers. Where did the goalies go? An incredible 14 players netted 50 goals or more this season with a mix of the usual suspects on the list as well as some new players who would make the 50 goal club again in the future. That season, Alexander Mogilny of the Buffalo Sabres and Teemu Selanne of the Winnepeg Jets each had 76 goals for their first 50 goal seasons. This was also the last year of the 70 goal scorer, to date or at least to the 2010-11 season.
Super Mario netted only 69 goals that season for the 4th time to lead the 60 goal scorers that season. Luc Robataille had 63 goals that year for the 3rd time while Pavel Bure, the Russian Rocket, had 60 goals for the first time for the Vancouver Canucks. Pierre Turgeon, a no 1 pick in the NHL for the NY Islanders, had 58 goals for the first (and only) time in his career. Stevie Yzerman had 58 goals too for the 5th time, Kevin Stevens 55 for the 2nd time, and Brett Hull had 54 goals for the 4th time. Pat LaFontaine had 53 goals for his new team, the Buffalo Sabres, his 2nd 50 goal campaign. Dave Andreychuck, who divided his season between the Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs had 53 goals (almost a third guy from the same team) and Brendan Shanahan put in 51 goals for the St Louis Blues, their first 50 goal seasons. Mark Recchi for the Philadelphia Flyers had 53 goals that season as well.
1993-94 saw a slight reduction in 50 goal scorers to 9 down from 14 the year before. Pavel Bure had his second 50 goal season with a league leading 60 goals followed by Brett Hull with 57 goals for the 5th time. Sergei Federov, before he was made into a defenseman, had 56 goals for the Detroit Red Wings. Dave Andreychuck and Brendan Shanahan had 53 and 52 goals respectively (their 2nd) while Cam Neely rejoined the list for the 3rd time with 50 goals, but did it in only 49 games due to injury! This was Neely’s 3rd and final time due to injuries he sustained in his career. Mike Modano had 50 goals for the first time in his career with the Dallas Stars hitting the magic number on the dot. Ray Sheppard and Adam Graves also each had 52 goal seasons for the first time in their careers while playing for the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers respectively.
1994-95. No one made the list this year as it was a shortened season due to a lockout.
In the 1995-96 season, 8 players netted 50 goals or more led by Mario Lemieux for the 5th time with 69 goals. Jaromir Jagr, also of the Pittsburgh Penguins, had 62 goals for the first 50 goal campaign in his career. Alexander Moglny had 55 goals for the 2nd time, only this one was with the Vancouver Canucks. A lot of new names made the list this year for their first 50 goal seasons. Peter Bondra of the Washington Capitals had 52, John LeClair for the Philadelphi Flyers netted 51, Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche snapped in 51, Keith Tkachuk of the Winnepeg Jets banged in 50 while Paul Kariya of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim slammed home 50 goals.
1996-97 saw a reasonable four 50 goal scorers with returning names only on this list. Keith Tkachuk of the relocated Jets, in Phonenix now, renamed the Coyotes, had 52 goals (2nd time), Teemu Selanne had 51 (2nd) , while Super Mario Lemieux and John LeClair each had 50 for the 6th and 2nd time respectively.
1997-98 through 2000-01 all had returning 50 goal scorers only. In 1997-98, Teemu Selanne led the league again with his 3rd 50 goal campaign netting 52 as did Peter Bondra, his 2nd. Pavel Bure and John LeClair both had their 3rd 50 goal seasons with 51 each.
1998-99 No one made the list this year and there was no strike or lockout. Interesting.
The 1999-00 season had only 1 player reach the 50 goal plateau. That player was Pavel Bure but he was playing for the Florida Panthers at that point netting a league best 58 goals for his 4th time.
In the 2000-2001 campaign, Pavel Bure led the way with 59 goals (his 5th) while Joe Sakic had 54 goals and Jagr put in 52 for the 2nd time in their careers.
In the 2001-2002 season, only 1 player made the 50 goal list and it was his first time. Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames did it as he netted 52 goals.
Like the year before, the 2002-03 season had only one player and just like the year before, it was the first 50 goal season of his career. Milan Hejduk of the Colorado Avalanche accomplished this feat that season.
2005-06 saw the return of hockey and some new faces to the hockey world and the 50 goal club. Jonathan Cheechoo of the San Jose Sharks led the league with 56 goals for the first time in his career. Jagr, now of the NY Rangers, did it for the 3rd time with 54 goals. Alexander Ovechkin had his first 50 goal season for the Washington Capitals with 52 as did Ilya Kovalchuk for the Atlanta Thrashers. Add Dany Heatley with 50 goals for the Ottawa Senators that season (his 1st) and you pretty much have the usual suspects for the next few years.
In 2006-07, Heatley accomplished the feat again for the 2nd time with 50 but didn’t lead the league. Instead, Vincent Lecavalier, of the Tampa Bay Lightning, netted 52 goals for the first time in his career to lead the league.
In 2007-08, Ovechkin lighted the lamp 65 times, often in spectacular fashion, to take home the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy as the top goal scorer of the season, his 2nd 50 goal campaign. Kovalchuk had 52 goals while Iginla had 50 goals for their 2nd seasons of their careers.
In 2008-09, only one player netted 50 goals or more to make the list. Alexander Ovechkin had 56 goals for the 3rd time in his career. He did it with his usual mix of spectacular, ridiculous and sometimes even jaw dropping goals.
In 2009-10, Ovechkin made the list again for the 4th time with 50 goals but trailed Sidney Crosby’s first 50 goal season of his career with 51 goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins while Steven Stamkos also had 51 goals that season for the Tamp Bay Lightning.
The 2010-11 season had 1 player dent the twine 50 times that year and that was Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks ending up with exactly 50 goals.
As of the end of the 2010-11 season, only 90 players in the NHL have ever scored 50 goals in one season. Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy have scored 50 goals or more in a season the most times with 9 each although Bossy did it 9 straight years.
The 2011-12 season saw a 60 goal scorer for the first time since 07-08 as Steven Stamkos pumped in 60 goals for the Lightning for his second 50 goal plus season. Evgeni Malkin scored 50 goals exactly for his first 50 goal campaign.
Following the strike shortened 2012-2013 season which of course did not see any player score 50 goals in the season, Alex Ovechkin scored 50 goals once again for the Capitals in the 2013-14 season. This is his first 50 goal season since 09-10 and his 5th overall.