Short answer? No. Not tremendously surprising, but still, you can get pretty close. I have highlighted the best player to wear each number throughout the team’s history below. Please note that this is a matter of personal opinion, and I took into account a player’s entire career when determining the best player to wear the number. There are a few numbers that have never been worn, and a few that only one player has worn. I have added commentary on some of the more interesting picks, as well as some of the more controversial ones.
*Indicates the number is retired in honor of the player
^Indicates the player is the only one to have worn the number in the history of the franchise
1) Giles Gilbert (1974-1980)
*^2) Eddie Shore (1926-1940)
Hockey Hall of Famer. Only one to ever wear the number with the B’s. ‘Nuff said.
*^3) Lionel Hitchman (1922-1934)
*4) Bobby Orr (1967-1976)
You might have heard of the first offensive defenseman? Oh, you haven’t? Look him up. He was pretty good.
*5) Dit Clapper (1927-1947)
OK, they should’ve retired this guy’s number based on his name alone. But his numbers were pretty good too.
6) Joe Thornton (1998-2000)
I bet many younger B’s fans remember Jumbo Joe in his Boston days. But how many knew he wore a number other than his iconic #19?
*7) Phil Esposito (1967-1976)
Did I mention the ’70s Bruins were kind of good?
*8) Cam Neely (1987-1996)
I may have issues with his management career, but not much was wrong with his on-ice career. The man could BURY the puck on cue.
*9) John Bucyk (1958-1978)
Bucyk is often the forgotten man from the ’70s juggernaut, but he’s a Hockey Hall of Famer for a reason.
10) Jean Ratelle (1976-1981)
He isn’t known for his exploits in the Black and Gold, but Ratelle was one of the more underrated stars of the ’70s.
11) PJ Axelsson (1998-2009)
12) Adam Oates (1992-1997)
Plenty of competition for this one, but the ridiculous offensive numbers he posted in the mid-90s ultimately took the cake.
13) Ken Linesman (1985-1990)
The original rat, Linesman, did more with his mouth than he did with the puck, but DANG was he good at it.
14) Ace Bailey (1969-1973)
*15) Milt Schmidt (1951-1955)
16) Derek Sanderson (1968-1974)
17) Milan Lucic (2008-2015)
Looch will always be a fan favorite for his handiwork – both with the puck and his fists.
18) Barry Pederson (1981)
19) Joe Thornton (2001-2006)
Yes, Joe is on here twice. No, I don’t think Tyler Seguin is better than him. Thornton is a Hall of Famer. Seguin’s not there yet.
20) Dallas Smith (1965-1977)
21) Ted Donato (1993-1999)
22) Willie O’Ree (1958-1961)
He didn’t put up stand out numbers, but the newest Hall of Famer on the list did so much more for the game than score goals.
23) Terry O’Reilly (1972)
*24) Terry O’Reilly (1973-1985)
25) Andy Brickley (1989-1992)
26) Blake Wheeler (2009-2011)
If only Peter Chiarelli didn’t trade his good players…
27) Dave Christian (1989-1991)
Did you know Christian was one of the more successful members of the Miracle on Ice team of 1980? I didn’t.
28) Mark Recchi (2009-2011)
He brought us a Cup in 2011, and he’s in the Hall of Fame.
29) Rick Middleton (1976-1988)
His number goes to the rafters this week. The pretty clear winner here.
30) Gerry Cheevers (1969-1980)
31) Jacques Plante (1973)
Wait – Jacques Plante wore the spoked B?
32) Don Sweeney (1989-2003)
Hey look, our GM played for the team!
33) Zdeno Chara (2007-present)
Big Z will see his name in the Hall and his number in the rafters very soon. First, he’d have to retire, and I’m not sure I see the android known as Chara breaking down for good for a while.
34) Geoff Courtnall (1984)
35) Andy Moog (1988-1993)
36) Dave Reid (1985-1988)
37) Patrice Bergeron (2004-present)
One of, if not THE greatest defensive forward in the history of the NHL will be a Bruin for life, captain when Chara retires, and will also see his number in the rafters and his name in the Hall. Classy individual, on and off the ice.
38) Dave Andreychuk (2000)
39) Greg Johnston (1986-1990)
40) Tuukka Rask (2008-present)
Tuukka Rask has the best career save percentage of all time. In the NHL. He is and has been great. Full stop.
41) Jason Allison (1997-2001)
42) David Backes (2017-present)
This is more of a result of very few impactful players wearing the #42 for Boston. The only other intriguing name was Blake Wheeler, and I gave the career track record of Backes the edge here.
43) Al Iafrate (1994)
The B’s love their heavy clappers from the point.
44) Dennis Seidenberg (2010-2016)
Quietly one of the better shutdown defensemen in the league in his prime.
45) Robert Lang (1998)
46) David Krejci (2007-present)
I haven’t seen many players be able to purposely slow down the game to throw the opposition off like Krejci. He is a consistent playoff performer, and if he played on any other team, he’d be the #1 center.
47) Torey Krug (2012-present)
Again a result of few players donning #47, I think it is pretty clear that Krug is one of the best offensive defensemen in the game, and his only other “competition” for this spot was Steven Kampfer.
48) Matt Grzelcyk (2017-present)
Give it to the local boy, because nobody else really did anything in their careers.
49) Joe Juneau (1992-1994)
50) Jonathan Sigalet (2007)
51) Ryan Spooner (2013-2018)
I know Spooner hasn’t been tremendous in his career, but literally, nobody of note wore #51.
52) Sean Kuraly (2017-present)
See above. At least Kuraly has had some clutch moments.
53) Derek Morris (2010)
54) Adam McQuaid (2010-2018)
Quaider was THE heavyweight in his era. He is literally terrifying on the ice.
55) Sergei Gonchar (2004)
If only Gonchar had stuck with the B’s longer than a season.
56) Petteri Nokelainen (2008)
57) PJ Axelsson (1998)
Axelsson wore a different number?
58) Urho Vaakanainen (2018-present)
Your options are Vaakanainen, Kevin Dallman, and Carter Camper. Yeah, I think this one is obvious.
59) Tim Schaller (2017-2018)
The only other player here is some guy named Rich Brennan, who played all of 7 games with Boston and tallied a single assist.
60) Vladimir Sobotka (2008-2010)
Sobotka, Kirk Nielsen, or Brian Finley? Obvious choice.
61) Rick Nash (2018)
To be honest, Nash’s competition here wasn’t tremendous. Shoutout to Craig Cunningham though.
62) Milan Lucic (2008)
Looch shows up again simply because the only other option here is Zach Trotman.
63) Brad Marchand (2010-present)
The NEWEST rat, Marchy has become one of the premier scorers in the league. But he might have his number retired simply based on his standing with the fans alone.
64) Jarno Kultanen (2001-2003)
Who? Well, Kultanen had the most offensive production out of the options. Sorry to Lane MacDermid, Bobby Robins, and Tyler Randell.
65) Andrew Bodnarchuk (2010)
Either Bodnarchuk or Brett Harkins. Not great options here.
66) NEVER BEEN WORN
67) Benoit Pouliot (2012)
The only other player to wear #67 has been Jakub Zboril, this is kind of by default.
68) Jaromir Jagr (2013)
Jagr is an all-timer, despite struggling in his time with Boston.
69) NEVER BEEN WORN
70) Tim Thomas (2003)
Timmy wore #70 during his first call-up with the B’s, and I think we can say he has had a better career than Malcolm Subban.
71) Marc Savard (2007)
Savvy wore 71? WHY? Better than Jiri Slegr or Terry Virtue though.
72) Peter Schaefer (2008)
A surprising number of players have worn #72, but Schaefer is the only one who was a reasonably decent offensive producer in his time with the team.
73) Charlie McAvoy (2017-present)
This is either McAvoy or Michael Ryder, and this may be controversial, but I thing McAvoy will have a better career.
74) Paul Coffey (2001)
OK, I will be honest. I never had any idea Paul Coffey played for Boston.
75) Hal Gill (1998)
76) Alexander Khokhlachev (2014-2016)
Khoko-bonanza. Just for Rob Tomlin.
*^77) Ray Bourque (1988-2000)
78) NEVER BEEN WORN
79) Jeremy Lauzon (2018-present)
Lauzon or David Warsofsky? Toss up, but I think Lauzon has more upside.
80) NEVER BEEN WORN
81) Phil Kessel (2007-2009)
Your options? Kessel, Miroslav Satan, or Anton Blidh. In the Kessel vs. Satan battle, I gotta give it to the hot dog master.
82) NEVER BEEN WORN
83) Peter Cehlarik (2017-present)
Who is Patrick Leahy? I have no clue either.
84) NEVER BEEN WORN
85) NEVER BEEN WORN
^86) Kevan Miller (2014-present)
87) NEVER BEEN WORN
^88) David Pastrnak (2015-present)
^89) Zdenek Blatney (2006)
90) NEVER BEEN WORN
^91) Marc Savard (2007-2011)
92) Michael Nylander (2004)
The only other player to wear the number was Guillaume Lefebvre. He sounds like a guy who played in the mid-70s, but he played with the team in 2010. That should tell you why Nylander wins out.
93) NEVER BEEN WORN
94) NEVER BEEN WORN
95) NEVER BEEN WORN
96) NEVER BEEN WORN
97) NEVER BEEN WORN
98) NEVER BEEN WORN
99) NEVER BEEN WORN