Scoring goals in the NHL is one of the hardest things to do, so scoring 50 goals in a single season is obviously a major accomplishments. Ninety-one different players have accomplished the feat in the history of the league, with the majority of them occurring during the high-flying 1980s.
It’s been 50 years since the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams, and by that time the total number of games teams play in a season crept up to 74. With the number of games in a season on the rise and the talent pool diluted (which will happen in any sport when you double the number of teams playing in a league), offense opened up and players started potting 50 goal seasons far more frequently.
While looking at the list of players who’ve had at least one 50 goal season, some names surprised me. With how rare it is in today’s NHL, you forget how much more often it happened back in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s.
Today we pay homage to the 15 NHL players that you simply forgot had a 50 goal season during their careers. It’s not that these players were bad or that they didn’t deserve to score 50 goals; most of them, however, failed to have sustained success at the NHL level, and thus were easily forgotten. A few players on the list are here thanks to an "anomaly season"—a year in which their counting stats are much higher than in other years, perhaps thanks to an inflated shooting percentage or a stud linemate.
Without further ado, here are the 15 NHL players who you forgot had 50 goals seasons:
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15 Blaine Stoughton (1979-80 and 1981-82, Hartford Whalers)
We start the list off with Blaine Stoughton, who played the bulk of his career in the WHA. Stoughton was playing with the New England Whalers when the merger happened in 1979, and it just so happened that he was also entering the prime of his career at the age of 26. That franchise of course turned into the NHL's Hartford Whalers, and in the first season with the new moniker Stoughton put up a team-leading 56 goals.
Stoughton is one of two players listed here who actually accomplished the feat twice. The 1979-80 campaign marked a stretch of four impressive seasons for Stoughton in Hartford, as he potted 56, 43, 52, and 45 goals (chronologically). He was an accomplished goal scorer, as he’d actually had a 50 goal campaign in the WHA with the Cincinnati Stingers in 1976-77.
14 Mickey Redmond (1972-73, 1973-74, Detroit Red Wings)
Mickey Redmond is a name that many of you have probably never heard before, but I can accurately introduce him as two-time 50-goal scorer Mickey Redmond. Redmond had a brief NHL career that spanned from 1967 to 1976. He was forced to retire at the age of 28 due to a nagging back condition. He’d compiled 233 goals and 428 points in his 538 games.
Redmond first reached the mark in 1972-73 when he notched a career high 52. He followed it up with another 50 goal season, this time potting 51. The following season is when his back quit on him, as he played in only 66 games over the following two campaigns before hanging up the skates for good. Redmond is currently a color analyst for Red Wings broadcasts.
13 Gary Leeman (1889-90, Toronto Maple Leafs)
Gary Leeman probably hasn’t been forgotten by most Leaf fans, as he became just the second skater in history to score 50 goals in a season for Toronto in 1989-90. Leeman was eventually traded to the Calgary Flames for a package that included Dave Gilmour, so he;s fondly remembered in Leafs nation for both his production and what he yielded in trade.
Leeman’s 51 goal campaign of 1989-90 was quite the anomaly when you look back at the numbers he posted throughout the other parts of his career. His second highest total came in 1988-89, and that was 32, which bested the previous season’s total 30. After his 51 goal season, Leeman never cracked the 20-goal plateau again, scoring just 17 the next season before being shipped to Calgary.
12 Guy Chouinard (1978-79, Atlanta Flames)
French-Canadian Guy Chouinard has largely been forgotten these days, but he was actually a pretty stellar player for the Flames franchise for many years. Drafted as an under-ager in 1974, he went on to produce 205 goals and 575 points in 578 games, all with the Flames (he moved to Calgary with the franchise in 1980-81).
Chouinard became the first Flame to score 50 goals in a season when he scored exactly that in 1978-79. He never came close to notching 50 again, as he put up consecutive totals of 31 over the following two seasons. He enjoyed a few more fairly productive seasons beyond that as well, but he ended up retiring early after a quick stint with the St. Louis Blues in 1983-84. He hadn't yet turned 30.
11 John Ogrodnick (1984-85, Detroit Red Wings)
The second of a whopping FOUR Detroit Red Wings to show up on our list of players you forgot scored 50 goals in a season is 1979 fourth round pick John Ogrodnick. Ogrodnick managed the feat in 1984-85 when he put up 55 goals to go with his 50 assists, finishing first on the Wings in scoring that year. You could see it coming for Ogrodnick, who’d posted consecutive 40 goal seasons before reaching the milestone.
After his 55 goal campaign Ogrodnick had a 38 goal season, but there were no other noteworthy goal totals after that. The winger made stops in Quebec and New York before returning to the Red Wings to finish his career in 1992-93. The Edmonton native retired with 402 goals and 827 points in 928 games.
10 Vic Hadfield (1971-72, New York Rangers)
Definitely one of the older members to show up on our list here. New York Rangers winger Vic Hadfield became the sixth player in NHL history to join the 50 goal club in 1971-72 when he scored exactly 50 in 78 games. The 1971-72 season was something of an anomaly for Hadfield, who was certainly no slouch but had also given no indication that he was about to score 50 goals before he did it.
It was Hadfield’s 11th NHL season when he notched 50 goals and 106 points, and his career highs before that year was 26 goals and 66 points, accomplished in 1968-69. He was on a string of four consecutive 20 goal campaigns before his big year—and he would eventually have nine straight seasons of 20 goals or more—but his second highest total in the end was the 31 he notched with Pittsburgh in 1974-75.
9 Bernie Geoffrion (1960-61, Montreal Canadiens)
Hall-of-Famer Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion comes in at number nine on our list. It might not be actually too surprising to some people that Geoffrion scored 50 goals in a season once, but when you look back at his career numbers the 50 goal campaign sticks out like a sore thumb. He was the second player ever to manage 50 in a season in 1960-61 (Maurice Richard did it in 1944-45).
Geoffrion had a knack for upping his game in the postseason, a tendency that helped the Canadiens win six Stanley Cups during his tenure in Montreal. Other than the 50 he scored in 1960-61, Geoffrion never scored more than 38 goals in any other season, and he only hit the 30 goal plateau twice (thrice including his 50 goal campaign). He retired in 1968 with 393 goals and 822 points in 883 games.
8 Rick Kehoe (1980-81, Pittsburgh Penguins)
Forward Rick Kehoe spent most of his professional career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That wouldn’t be so bad if he played in the early 1990s or even present day, but instead he wore black and yellow in Pittsburgh from 1974 through 1985. The Penguins weren’t a great team in those days, and Kehoe only played 37 playoff games during his decade spent in Pennsylvania, winning a grand total of two series over that span.
Kehoe joined the 50 goal club in 1980-81, notching 55 for the Pens that year. That total is grossly inflated when compared to other season totals from Kehoe. His second-highest total was 33, achieved twice (once in 1972-73 with the Leafs, prior to his 55 goal campaign, and once with the Pens in 1981-82, afterwards). When Kehoe retired he led the Penguins franchise in points.
7 Ray Sheppard (1993-94, Detroit Red Wings)
When I think of Ray Sheppard, I think of a serviceable second-line player who played for nearly every NHL team throughout the 1990s. In reality, Sheppard played for just six different teams in the ‘90s (still a lot), and he scored 52 goals in the 1993-94 season, often playing on a line with either Sergei Fedorov or Steve Yzerman.
This was the first season Detroit had Scotty Bowman as their coach, and it really was the year Detroit established its dominance across the NHL. Sheppard was only in Detroit for one more season beyond his 52 goal year, and that was the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season. He actually was pacing for nearly 50 that year, as he had 30 goals in just 43 games—in fact, that extrapolates closer to 60 goals.
6 Jacques Richard (1980-81, Quebec Nordiques)
The 1980-81 season was sort of a weird year. Eight players scored at least 50 goals that season, and three of them show up here on our list. French-Canadian center Jacques Richard reached the plateau that season with the Quebec Nordiques, notching 52 goals and 103 points in 78 games. Richard lived a fast life, and he died in a car accident on the way home from celebrating his 50th birthday in 2002.
Richard was an Atlanta Flames draft pick, selected second overall in 1972. Aside from his one great season, Richard never lived up to the hype of his draft pedigree, as he only broke the 20-goal barrier one other time in his 10 seasons. Richard retired having played 556 games with the Flames, Sabres, and Nordiques, recording 160 goals and 347 points in the process.
5 Al Secord (1982-83, Chicago Blackhawks)
My God, there was a lot of scoring in the 1980s. It seems that every season someone new was reaching the 50 goal milestone, and often it was players who have since been forgotten. I wouldn’t say Al Secord is entirely forgotten, but most people will probably be surprised to learn that he’s one of the 91 players to have scored 50 goals in an NHL season.
Secord accomplished the impressive feat in 1982-83 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. He showed that he was perhaps capable of the accomplishment in the previous season when he notched 44; he upped that number by 10 in 1982-83, a season in which his 86 points also represents a career high. Secord had one more 40 goal season (1985-86) before playing his last NHL season in 1990.
4 Milan Hejduk (2002-03, Colorado Avalanche)
The most recent 50-goal scorer appears on our list at number four, and that’s Milan Hejduk. Hejduk played his entire NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche, and for most of that time he was skating in the shadows of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. The winger was blessed with the privilege of skating with one of those two centers for pretty much the entire first half of his career, and his numbers were inflated accordingly.
In 2002-03, Hejduk scored 50 goals playing on a line with Forsberg, who won the Art Ross Trophy that year with 77 assists and 106 points. There’s no question Hejduk knew how to score goals—he retired in 2013 with 375—but the 50 goal campaign was a bit of a surprise to most. His previous career high was 41, and he had two 35-goal seasons after his career year in 2002-03.
3 Wayne Babych (1980-81, St. Louis Blues)
If you look at Wayne Babych’s career as a whole, he scored 192 goals in 519 games split between the Blues, Penguins, Nordiques, and Whalers. While he’d had seasons of 27 and 26 goals leading up to the 1980-81 campaign, nobody predicted the 100 percent jump to 54 goals for Babych that season. Perhaps even more surprising, he only reached the 20 goal plateau one more time after that.
Babych is probably less of a household name than his brother Dave, who played over twice as many games in his career than Wayne did. Wayne will always have 1980-81 on his baby brother though, as he put up 54 goals and 96 points playing wing with legendary Blue Bernie Federko. That was Dave’s rookie season, and he went minus-61 with the Jets. Ouch.
2 Mike Bullard (1983-84, Pittsburgh Penguins)
If you’re a Canadian from my generation, Mike Bullard is a Toronto-based late-night talk show host who’s not entirely that funny, but did come with a dash of charm, to be fair. If you were more than the zygote I was in the 1980s, then perhaps you remember Mike Bullard as the former 50-goal scorer who played 727 NHL games (mostly through the 1980s, primarily with Pittsburgh).
Bullard joined the 50 goal club in 1983-84, when he notched 51 goals for the Penguins, a team that finished dead last in the NHL. This would be very important for the NHL history books, as the dismal season gave the Penguins the opportunity to draft first overall in the 1984 draft, thus making Mario Lemieux a Penguin. Bullard retired from the NHL in 1992 with 674 points.
1 Danny Grant (1974-75, Detroit Red Wings)
Danny Grant is far from a household name in the hockey world. He played 736 games in his career, primarily in the 1970s, with the Canadiens, North Stars, Red Wings, and Kings. It was in his eighth NHL season (his first of three-and-a-half with Detroit) that he joined the 50 goal club, scoring exactly 50 in 1974-75, playing most of the season on a line with Marcel Dionne.
Amazingly, Grant never had a season after his 50-goal campaign in which he scored more than 12 goals. Grant struggled with injuries for the remainder of his career, and was lucky if he made it into half of the games in any given season after 1974-75. He played his final NHL game for the Los Angeles Kings in 1978-79, and retired after a brief stint in the AHL with respectable career NHL boxcars (263-272-535).
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