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These events occured in 1981 in the world of hockey:
- Art Ross Memorial Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer during the regular season: Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
- Hart Memorial Trophy for the NHL's Most Valuable Player: Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
- Stanley Cup - New York Islanders win 4 games to 1 over the Minnesota North Stars
- World Hockey Championship
- Men's champion: Soviet Union defeated Sweden
- Junior Men's champion: Sweden defeated Finland
August 27 – death of Valeri Kharlamov (33), Russian player, in a car crash