A 48-game schedule used to be the norm in the NHL

The 1934-1935 Detroit Red Wings, coached by legendary Jack Adams, played a 48-game season.

No, a truncated 48-game schedule for the 2012-13 edition of the Detroit Red Wings isn’t ideal. But, yes, it’s definitely welcomed by Detroit fans who need our hockey fix, especially as we battle the usual winter funk settling into our system.

Actually, there was a time, back in grandpappy’s day, when a 48-game slate was the norm. For 11 seasons, beginning in 1931, the National Hockey League (which was then split into two divisions and whose size fluctuated between seven and nine teams) played 48 games in a regular season that ran from late October or early November through mid-March. The playoffs, whose format varied, were over by the first or second week of April.

In 1942, the NHL reconfigured into the six-team, single-division familiar to fans of the Original Six era. There was a satisfying symmetry to the scheduling, with each team playing the others an equal number of times. The schedule grew from 50 games in 1942 to 60 in 1946, then to 70 in 1949. It stayed at 70 until expansion ushered in an unbalanced 74-game sked in 1967. As the league ballooned in size, the number of games grew apace (76 in 1968, 78 in 1970, 80 in 1974, 84 in 1992) until settling in at its current figure of 82 games in 1995.

Listed here are the 12 seasons in which the Wings played a 48-game schedule, including the strike-shortened 1994-95 season.

Season     W-L-T     Pts     Playoffs
1931-32	   18-20-10      46	Lost in Round One
1932-33	   25-15-8	 58	Lost in Round Two
1933-34	   24-14-10	 58	Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
1934-35	   19-22-7	 45	Didn't qualify
1935-36	   24-16-8	 56	Won Stanley Cup
1936-37	   25-14-9	 59	Won Stanley Cup
1937-38	   12-25-11	 35	Didn't qualify
1938-39	   18-24-6	 42	Lost in Round Two
1939-40	   16-26-6	 38	Lost in Round Two
1940-41	   21-16-11	 53	Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
1941-42	   19-25-4	 42	Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
1994-95	   33-11-4	 70	Lost in Stanley Cup Finals



About Richard Bak

Richard Bak grew up on Detroit's west side doing poor imitations of Dick McAuliffe's batting stance and Denny McLain's leg kick. He is a contributing writer to Hour Detroit magazine and the author of nearly 30 books, including biographies of Ty Cobb and Joe Louis. Bak's most recent books are The Big Jump, the story of Charles Lindbergh and the great New York-to-Paris air race of the 1920s, and Detroitland, a collection of his history pieces. He currently is finishing two more books of history: Soldier of Misfortune: The Execution of Private Eddie Slovik and Its Aftermath (DaCapo) and When Lions Were Kings: The Detroit Lions and the Fabulous Fifties (Wayne State University Press), both of which will be published in 2015.