While linemate Elmer Lach capture the Hart Trophy as the MVP in 1944-45, Maurice Richard stole the show by setting a new league record with 50 goals to go along with 23 assists (Lach had 80 points to win the scoring title).
While 50 goals are scored relatively routinely in a given season these days, it was the manner in which Richard did it that separated him from the pack, as he scored 50 in just 50 games.
Just his third year in the league, 1944-45 put Richard on the map and birthed a legend. Also recording the league’s first eight-point game that year (Dec. 28, 1944), he did it in spectacular fashion more nights than not.
Of note, Richard broke former Hab Joe Malone’s previous highwater mark of 44 goals in a year, set in the league’s inaugural 1917-18 season. What’s most noteworthy about Malone’s accomplishment is he was able to do it in just 20 games.
Unfortunately, Malone, a Hall of Famer in his own right, gets slighted on this list because it’s hard to gauge how much of Malone’s feat was due to his abilities as a goal scorer and how much was due to the high-scoring nature of the league when it was still finding its legs, competitively speaking.
To illustrate that point, Ottawa Senator Cy Denneny scored 36 goals that year and Toronto Maple Leaf Reg Noble scored 30 (both in 20 games as well).
Meanwhile, Richard and his 1944-45 season get the edge because the next-closest player, Boston Bruin Herb Cain, scored a full 18 goals fewer. Richard was just so much more prolific than anyone else in the league and, essentially, was one of a kind.