Two NHL career records were broken during the 1963-64 season, both by members of the Detroit Red Wings. Gordie Howe scored his 545th goal to pass Rocket Richard and Terry Sawchuk recorded his 95th shutout to break the record formerly held by George Hainsworth.
The season also featured two of the biggest trades in NHL history. The first came shortly before the season opened, when the Montreal Canadiens traded three players, including goalie Jacques Plante, to the New York Rangers for Dave Balon, Leon Rochefort, Len Ronson, and Gump Worsley. At the time, Worsley was expected to replace Plante in goal, but Charlie Hodge actually became Montreal's starting goalie for most of the season and was named a second-team all-star.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were defending Stanley Cup champions, but they were faltering until they sent five players to the New York Rangers for Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney. Bathgate had helped the Rangers get into the playoffs the previous season. This season, he helped the Maple Leafs climb into third place, while the Rangers dropped into fifth.
There was another close race for first place, with the Canadiens edging the Chicago Blackhawks by 1 point. The Detroit Red Wings were fourth again. The semifinals had exactly the same matchups as in 1963. Again, Toronto eliminated the Canadiens, but this time the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks.
Detroit took a 3-2 lead in an exciting final series. Four of those five games were decided by one goal and Game 2 went into overtime, where Detroit pulled out a 4-3 win. In Game 6, Toronto defenseman Bobby Baun was taken off the ice with a broken ankle. Somehow, he managed to return to the game and scored the winning goal in overtime.
Game 7 was anticlimactic after that remarkable outcome. Bathgate put Toronto ahead with a goal at 3:04 of the first period and the Maple Leafs went on to win easily, 4-0, for their third straight Stanley Cup.
This was the first time that all three series went the full seven games since the NHL went to the best-of-seven format in 1939.