As NHL Saturday moves to the middle of the 1970s, we have to give a nod to the Broad Street Bullies: The Philadelphia Flyers became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, and they did it with a unique style of play that nobody has forgotten in the decades since. Will it reflect in our awards for the next two seasons when the Flyers hoisted the Cup high?!
On with the show to find out …
1974 Hart: Phil Esposito (original, confirmed)
This award has been dominated by one player in its existence for our weekly analysis: Boston Bruins center Phil Esposito. He actually won the Hart vote this time, too, and it’s easy for us to confirm the award as he easily outdistanced the next-best forward in the league for Point Shares (16.96 to 11.69 for Bruins right wing Ken Hodge).
This is Esposito’s sixth Hart from us. His traditional stats: 68 goals, 145 points, 50 even-strength goals, and 393 shots on goal were all NHL-high marks, while adding 77 assists, a plus-51 rating, and 58 penalty minutes.
1974 Vezina: Tony Esposito & Bernie Parent (original), Bernie Parent (revised)
What a strange year it was as two goaltenders from different teams split the Vezina: Chicago Black Hawks goalie Tony Esposito, who won this award from us in 1971, and Flyers netminder Bernie Parent. Both players started at least 70 games on the year, and they were—by far—the top two goalies in the league. Parent comes out ahead in PS, however (19.94 to 18.20). He also won the Triple Crown by posting 47 victories, 1.89 goals-against average, and a .932 save percentage.
Esposito posted 34 wins, a 2.05 GAA, and a .929 S% as Philadelphia (112 points) and Chicago (105 points) finished 1-2 in the West Division. Parent also started 3 more games than Esposito did, which solidifies this award for him alone.
1974 Norris: Bobby Orr (original, confirmed)
While Parent topped the NHL in PS, he didn’t do it by much over Boston defenseman Bobby Orr (19.42). The Bruins legend wins his sixth straight Norris from us, as he also won the vote, too, of course. His traditional numbers: 32G, 90A, 122P, plus-84 rating, 82 PIM. The assists and plus/minus rating marks were the best in the league, as was his 7.67 defensive PS total.
Ironically, the second-best blue liner in the league was Boston’s Brad Park (12.41 PS). This helped push Boston to an NHL-high 113 points in the standings as it won the East Division with top two forwards and the top two defensemen in the league.
1974 Calder: Denis Potvin (original), Borje Salming (revised)
The two top rookies in the league were New York Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin (8.7 PS) and Toronto Maple Leafs d-man Borje Salming (8.3 PS). New York finished dead last in the East Division with 56 points, while the Maple Leafs finished fourth in the division with 86 points. Right there, we are inclined to give this award to Salming, as his Point Shares had actual value for a playoff team.
His numbers didn’t jump off the stat sheet: 39 points, plus-38 rating, and 48 PIM. But Salming finished 10th in the NHL for defensive PS (6.0), and that made a difference over the 76 games he played in getting Toronto into the postseason.
1974 Conn Smythe: Bernie Parent (original, confirmed)
The Flyers beat the Bruins in six games to claim Lord Stanley’s trophy, and Parent was voted the Conn Smythe winner for his efforts in net (12-5, 2.02 GAA, .933 S%). But center Rick MacLeish was also a contender with 22 points in 17 games—including 4 game-winning goals. In fact, in the Game Six clincher, Parent tossed a shutout, and MacLeish scored the game’s only goal.
For Boston, four skaters registered at least a point a game for the postseason—and Phil Esposito was not one of them. But in a losing effort, none of them, including Orr (18 points in 16 games), were truly dominant enough for consideration when looking at Parent and MacLeish on the winning side.
Parent tossed two shutouts in the postseason, and his numbers generally seem more dominant than MacLeish’s numbers. We will stick with him, although we think this was closer than most people probably thought at the time.