By Josh Houreas|follow me on Twitter @JHoureas
Ever since 1924, the Boston Bruins have entertained the fans of New England on the ice and around the country. Since then, the pioneers of professional American Hockey have dazzled fans on the ice. So decade by Decade lets take a look at the best moments in Bruins history.
The 1920s: Birth of a team soon to be Champions
While the opening season in Boston Bruins history was easily the worst, (with Boston finishing with a 6-24 record) It wouldn’t take long for Boston to experience a winning tradition in a city where winning means everything. As the Western Hockey League (not to be confused with today’s junior tier league of the same name) folded in 1926, the Boston Bruins were successful in their pursuit of the first cornerstone player in franchise history. That Player was Eddie Shore, and he would help Boston to their first Stanley Cup only three seasons later in 1929.
The 1930s: Shore steps down, the Krauts step up.
Today, some teams have a line combination that just… Clicks. For Boston, Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron would be that combination today, but back in the 1930s, the Kraut Line, consisting of Mildt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer, and Woody Dumart was the almost unstoppable combination in Beantown. While the Bruins maintained a winning tradition throughout the 1930s, it wouldn’t be until 1939 when the Kraut Line helped Boston capture the Stanley Cup, right before heading off to fight in World War II, and in their last game against the hated Montreal Canadiens, all three players of the Kraut Line were lifted up on the shoulders of Montreal players, and were carried off the ice.
The 1940s: Boston captures another title in the War Stricken world.
It wouldn’t take the Boston Bruins long to reclaim the Stanley Cup. Bostonians would only have to wait two seasons to see Lord Stanley’s hardware return to the Boston Garden. During the War, Boston would continue to play, but with the eventual retirement of the renowned Kraut Line, the Bruins would struggle to capture another championship. For the next 3 decades.
The 1950s: O’ree breaks the NHL’s color barrier.
Just like Jackie Robinson stepping on a Major League field before him, Willie O’Ree became an icon the minute he stepped out onto the ice. On January 18,1958 against the Montreal Canadiens of all teams, O’Ree became the first African Canadian player to dress in an NHL game. He would also hide the fact that he was blind in one eye, after being hit with a puck two years prior to his debut.
The 1960s: The birth of the Big Bad Bruins
There’s no better feeling in the game of hockey than to kick the crap out of the guy who just slammed you into the boards. The Bruins would make a habit of doing the same even though the on ice struggles were clearly visible. Throughout a country struggling with Civil Rights movements and marches, the Bruins would struggle to march into the win column for a majority of the decade. But along came a kid… who had the speed of Connor McDavid , and the defensive skills of Ray Bourque.
And he would change the course of Bruins history forever.
The 1970s: Orr soars, Bruins build a new dynasty.
Mother’s day. 1970. 13,909 fans packed the Boston Garden to watch the Bruins battle the St. Louis Blues in game four of the Stanley Cup Final, and in arguably the most memorable play in Bruins history, Bobby Orr would score the clinching goal, and would be frozen in time, flying through the air. Two years later, Boston captured their fifth Stanley Cup in team history, and it would be a swan song for the Big Bad Bruins.
The 1980s: Lunch Pail A.C. opens a new era at the Garden
Cheevers, Doak, Cashman. These were the players who would give fans fond memories of the Big Bad Bruins, while players like Terry O’Reilly, Rick Middleton, and Brad Park introduced Bostonians to a new style of Bruins hockey. The Bruins would make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1988, but were defeated at the hands of Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, who were in the middle of building a dynasty of their own.
The 1990s: Bruins Bid Farewell to Boston Garden
For 67 years, Boston Garden showcased Boston Bruins hockey and while the product on the ice was spectacular for a majority of years, it is the quirkiness of the layout of the famed building we take a look at. The rink dimensions were smaller than National Hockey League Standards, and the fans always seemed to be right on top of you, and when it got loud, the building shook. Literally. One of my biggest regrets (even though it was completely out of my control being born in 1998) was not being able to see the Boston Garden.
The 2000s: Chiarelli transforms losing traditions into winning traditions
At the turn of the Millennium, the Boston Bruins had finished with a record of 24-33-19-6. Something had to be done to help Boston become a contender for their 6th Stanley Cup. Over the next five seasons, General Manager Peter Chiarelli (hired in 2006) would transform the Bruins into a powerhouse.
The 2010s: Monumental Heartbreak leads to a Memorable Championship.
On May 14, 2010 the Boston Bruins sent their fanbase into horrifying shock. The team had succeeded in performing a monumental collapse at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Up 3-0 in the series, and not to mention 3-0 in Game 7, Boston had a lot of questions to answer, and a lot of criticism to face. Personally, I couldn’t even believe what I had seen. I kept mumbling “all they had to do was win one more game, how could they blow it?”
The team would repay us in the Summer of 2011, as the team won the Stanley Cup after winning 3 game sevens in route to their first Championship in nearly 4 decades. Going to the parade is a memory im never going to forget. Three hours of waiting for 30 seconds of cheering. Totally worth it, also PSA. If your local sports team wins a championship, don’t go to the parade. Enjoy watching it in the comfort of your own home.
Honorable Mention. 2013. That entire season was a rollercoaster of emotions. Well, what we were able to get of it. A similar situation to 2005 was arising, and the NHL lost about half the year to lockout. With the tragedy at the Boston Marathon in April of that year, the Bruins became Boston’s team more than ever. And the fans were certainly with them on April 20, 2013. Let’s go Bruins chants were replaced with We are Boston chants. A 617 jersey was custom made by the equipment staff, and it gave us a tearful reminder that there was only one outlook on what had happened in the days prior, and that was to remain Boston Strong. The following month, Boston completed one of the most historic comebacks in Stanley Cup Playoffs history, defeating Toronto after scoring 3 goals in less than 12 minutes in the final period of game 7.
Today, the Boston Bruins continue a winning tradition going into their 97th season in the National Hockey League.
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher![soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/848608528″ params=”color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
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