The Flames moved from Atlanta to Calgary before the season opened, becoming the fourth NHL team in Western Canada, with the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets.
In his second NHL season, Wayne Gretzky put his name in the record book with 109 assists, breaking Bobby Orr's record, and 164 points, 12 more than Phil Esposito's former record. Gretzky won the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP for the second time.
Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders led the league with 68 goals. In the process, he scored 50 goals in 50 games to equal Rocket Richard's legendary accomplishment.
The previous year, the Islanders had won the Stanley Cup as underdogs. This season, they had the NHL's best regular-season record with 110 points, 3 ahead of the St. Louis Blues, 7 ahead of the Montreal Canadiens, and 11 ahead of the Buffalo Sabres. Those teams were the four division leaders.
Gretzky's Oilers, who finished only fourth in the Smythe Division, eliminated the Canadiens in three straight games in the first round of the playoffs and extended the Islanders to six games in the second round. The Islanders then swept the New York Rangers to reach the finals.
The young Minnesota North Stars were the Islanders' surprising opponent for the Stanley Cup. Minnesota had swept the Boston Bruins in the preliminary round and then eliminated Buffalo in five games and Calgary in six games to reach the finals.
But the North Stars were no match for the Islanders, who scored 19 goals in winning the first three games. Minnesota managed a home victory in Game 4 before the Islanders closed it out at home, 5-1, to win the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row.
Mike Bossy had 35 post-season points to break the record set by Bryan Trottier the year before. The Conn Smythe Trophy, for the most valuable player of the playoffs, went to Butch Goring. A 5-9, 166-pound center, Goring won the trophy for his great all-around play and unstoppable engine.