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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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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