The modern era of NHL hockey began in 1943-44 with the addition of the red line to speed up the game and reduce the amount of offside calls during the game. It was now becoming much more difficult for goaltenders to record the lower goals-against averages that fans were accustomed to.
After starting goaltender Paul Bibeault left the Montreal Canadiens to join the armed forces following the 1942-43 season, the Habs were left scrambling and called upon career senior league netminder BILL DURNAN to replace Bibeault. Beginning his NHL career at age 28, DURNAN impressed all by capturing both the VEZINA TROPHY and First Team All-Star honours in his rookie year. He led one of the most powerful squads in NHL history, setting numerous team records with 83 points and posting an undefeated home record; an unparalleled accomplishment. Durnan led most goaltending categories, including games played (50), victories (38) and goals-against average (2.18). Ironically, DURNAN'S predecessor Paul Bibeault was the VEZINA runner-up.