It is a tremendous honor to be able to wear the spoked B, lace up the skates and play before thousands of Bruins faithful during your career. The Boston Bruins are one of the most storied franchises in the world, ninety-three years young, with six Lord Stanleys to their name. Many players have come and gone, but some players have the privilege of leaving their mark. All these players on this list live on in Bruins history, never be forgotten. To quote The Sandlot, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” Now without further ado, my list of the top 10 Bruins of all-time.
10. Lionel Hitchman (1924-1934)
Lionel Hitchman was a pioneer. He was the first Bruin to ever wear the stitched “C” and lead the team to their first Stanley Cup in 1929. Hitchman played 10 years for the Bruins, scoring 27 goals, dishing out 33 assists and racking up a whopping 523 minutes in the sin bin. Hitchman was the Bruins first solid defenseman, bringing leadership to the position. He played three season with the Ottawa Senators before making his way to Boston, playing a successful thirteen year professional career. He made a high impact on a league that was in its formative years. His number 3 was the second ever retired by the Bruins.
9. Eddie Shore (1926-1939)
Just like Hitchman, Shore was a great defenseman for the Bruins. Shore had an offensive mind, scoring 105 goals in 550 career NHL games, unheard of for a defenseman at that time. He won two-ups with the Bruins, 1929 and 1939, ultimately getting inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1941. Shore won the Hart Trophy four times as player most valuable to his team, which gives him the distinction of most Hart trophies ever won by a defenseman. He was an all-star in eight out of his first nine seasons. Shore’s #2 was retired by the Bruins in 1947. When you think of Eddie Shore, you think of old-time hockey.
8. Johnny “Chief” Bucyk (1957-1977)
Johnny Bucyk had an amazing long career, playing for the Bruins for 20 seasons. Bucyk played two years in Detroit before becoming a Bruin, making that a 22 year career. Bucyk put up serious numbers by the end of his career, finishing with 566 goals and 813 assists. His extraordinary playing career got him inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981. He had 16 seasons with 20 or more goals making the all-star game in seven seasons. Bucyk is the all-time Bruins leader in goals scored and games played and ranks 26th all-time in the NHL for goals scored and 24th in points scored. Bucyk is a two time Stanley Cup champion with the Bruins.
7. Terry “Taz” O’Reilly (1971-1984)
Terry O’Reilly wore the Bruins sweater his entire career. O’Reilly was a mean son of a bitch, pardon my French, as he was one of the leaders of the Big Bad Bruin era. O’Reilly was known for his toughness earning his the nickname, “Bloody O’Reilly.” He could score goals as good as he could fight, the ultimate hockey, the equivalent to a five-tool player in baseball. There is nothing better than watching Terry O’Reilly fights on YouTube and see him beat the living daylights out of people. Man, I was born in the wrong generation. If I could chose one Bruin to watch in his career, O’Reilly would be high up there. O’Reilly finished his career with 204 goals and 402 assists. He is most known for his obscene brawl in Madison Square Garden when he hopped the glass into the stands, with many other teammates, and beat a guy senseless with his own shoe. That has two be the number two moment in Bruins history behind Bobby Orr’s diving celebration after scoring the C
up winner. I could go on and on about “Taz” because he has a heart of a true Bruin, and I miss that nowadays.
6. Cam Neely (1986-1995)
Cam Neely and Terry O’Reilly go hand and hand. Just like O’Reilly, Neely could go out and score goals when he felt like it then go pound a guys teeth in a second later. If I had one chance to knock Ulf Samuelsson out, you best believe I 110% would. If it weren’t for that bastard Neely would have been the best Bruin to ever play the game. His career was cut short when Ulf blew out Neely’s knee forcing him to retire. Neely scored 395 goals and had 299 assists. In 1993, Neely had 50 goals in 44 games making him the second fastest player to achieve that number of goals in that amount of games, only behind Wayne “The Great One” Gretsky. Neely was inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005 and without a doubt has his number retired by the Bruins. Neely currently serves as the Bruins president. If he can’t help on the ice, he sure as hell will help off it. Just like O’Reilly, I could watch endless Neely career highlights.
5. Phil Esposito (1967-1975)
Phil Esposito helped the Bruins to two Stanley Cup, winning the Art Ross Trophy three time and making 10 all-star appearances. Esposito leads the league in game winning goal (118) and finished his career with 717 goals and 873 assists. He was inducted into the 1984 Hockey Hall of Fame. Even though Esposito only played for the B’s for eight years, he still made an immediate impact with his time in Boston. Phil played for the Blackhawks prior to Boston and the Rangers after leaving the Bruins. Esposito makes the list with his incredible numbers. How can you not put a guy with two Stanley Cup wins with the Bruins and his numbers. Phil’s accolades go above and beyond, and truly was the centerpiece in the Bruins success in the early 70’s.
4. Aubrey Clapper (1927-1947)
Aubrey “Dit” Clapper played for the Bruins his entire 20-year career, becoming the first ever NHL player to play that long. Clapper was a versatile player becoming named an all-star both as a defenseman and right winger. The Hockey Hall of Fame waived the three year waiting period and inducted him as soon as he retired. Clapper finished his career with 228 goals and 246 assists. Aubrey played on three Stanley Cup-winning Bruins teams, the most in franchise history. Clapper also coached the Bruins from 1945 to 19-49, winning 108 games in that span. Towards the end of his career he was named player-coach. Clapper shattered records in the 30’s and became one of the best ever in the beautiful game of hockey.
3. Milt Schmidt (1936-1942) and (1946-1955)
With Milt’s recent passing away, he inspired me to put together this list of all-time Bruins great because of the impact he left. Schmidt locked up two Stanley Cups, 1939 and 1941, winning the Hart Trophy in 1951 and leading the NHL in scoring in 1940. Milt was a four-time all-star and retired third in total NHL points and second in assists. If you notice Milt had two stints with the Bruins, in the gap he served in WWII earning the utmost respect from everybody. Milt didn’t miss a beat with his time away from hockey as he was the same old skilled player he was when he left for the war. Milt is the definition of a great and true Bruin. You will be missed even though Milt’s name and memories live on.
Ray Bourque (1979-1999)
Raymond Bourque nearly played his entire career in a Bruins uniform. He wore the captains patch for the longest time in Bruins history and picked up a five Norris Trophies while doing so. Bourque was a crazy offensive skilled defensemen, finishing his career with 410 goals. He also tallied up a total of 1,579 points. He was named to the all-star game 19 straight years. Bourque never won a cup in Boston but did so when he departed to Colorado in his final year. I never wanted to see anyone hoist a Cup so badly because he deserved it. Bourque is the Bruins leader in games played, points scored and assists. He has so many accolades it would take forever to list. Just know that he put everything he had into the B’s and his numbers show it. Players like Bourque only come once in a generation.
1. Bobby Orr (1966-1976)
Needless to say, I think Bobby Orr takes the #1 player in Bruins history. If his iconic diving celebration after scoring the Cup-winning goal doesn’t say enough, then his stats will. Orr is the first and only defenseman to score nine hat tricks, the first defensemen to score 30 goals (1969-70) and 40 goals (1974-75) in a season. He’s the first player to record 100 assists in a season, the bonly defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy and only ever player to win the Art Ross, Norris, Hart and Conne Smythe trophies in one season. Orr has some crazy records and accolades without a doubt. Orr, just like Gretsky, put up video game numbers. Orr won two cups in 1970 and 1972. He had a tremendous impact on the way he played the game as a two-way player. He broke through a barrier becoming the first true offensive defensemen. So, let me leave you with this, *in the voice of Dan Kelly*, “…behind the net to Sanderson to OOOORR! BOBBY OOOORR!”