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1979-80

• The NHL admits four teams from the defunct World Hockey Association -- the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers (renamed Hartford Whalers at the insistence of the Boston Bruins), Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets. The Birmingham Bulls and Cincinnati Stingers -- the other two surviving WHA teams -- are paid to disband.

• The collapse of the WHA also leads to the introduction of Wayne Gretzky to the NHL fold. It also marks the NHL returns of Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull, both of whom would retire at season's end as members of the Whalers.

• Helmets are now mandatory for all players signing their NHL contracts on or after June 1, 1979. Players already playing without a helmet may continue to do so at their own risk.

• The concept of conferences and divisions is essentially for show. Teams played an entirely balanced schedule, playing the other 20 teams four times each. Officially, the four division winners earned automatic playoff berths, and the 12 best teams among the non-champions also get in. Those 16 teams are then seeded based on their standing among the entire league without regard to division championship. The only way a team from outside the top 16 gets in is if the five worst teams in the league all play in the same division.

• The Philadelphia Flyers go on a monumental unbeaten streak. After starting the season with a win and a loss, they would not lose a single game for nearly three months, winning 25 and tying 10 in the process.

• Despite the Flyers' dominance, they would not skate with the Stanley Cup. That honor went to the division rival New York Islanders, who beat the Flyers in six games to win their first of four consecutive Stanley Cups.


Atlanta Flames


Boston Bruins


Buffalo Sabres


Chicago Black Hawks


Colorado Rockies


Detroit Red Wings


Edmonton Oilers


Hartford Whalers


Los Angeles Kings


Minnesota North Stars


Montreal Canadiens


New York Islanders


New York Rangers


Philadelphia Flyers


Pittsburgh Penguins


Quebec Nordiques


St. Louis Blues


Toronto Maple Leafs


Vancouver Canucks


Washington Capitals


Winnipeg Jets


1980 All-Star Game
Detroit, MI