By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
To no surprise, on January 7th, 2021 – the Boston Bruins officially named forward Patrice Bergeron the captain of the team, replacing defenceman Zdeno Chara who departed in free agency to Washington. Bergeron, 35, has been a Bruin since he was drafted by the club 45th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and has arguable been the best captain that never wore the “C”.
Everyone knew this day was coming. A four-time Selke winner as best defensive forwards in the league, a feat that ties Montreal Canadiens legend, Bob Gainey, for the all-time NHL record, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist, a World Cup of Hockey winner, a World Junior Gold medalist, a World Championship Gold medalist, a King Clancy Trophy and for Bruins fans, the most rewarding – the 2011 Stanley Cup. It was bound to happen that Boston would award Bergeron with the captaincy.
As one of the Original Six franchises, the Boston Bruins have one of the most prestigious histories in the National Hockey League. Legends, retired numbers, and players who changed the game dawned the many variants of that iconic Bruins sweater. Many of those greats, wore that “C” on their chest as a signified leader of the Boston organization. Here is the full list of the now 20 captains in Bruins history.
Sprague Cleghorn – (1925-1927)
Lionel Hitchman – (1927-1931)
George Owen – (1931-1932)
Dit Clapper – (1932-1938), (1939-1947)
Clooney Weiland (1938-1939)
Jack Crawford (1947-1950)
Milt Schmidt (1951-1955)
Ed Sandford (1955-1955)
Fern Flaman (1955-1961)
Don McKenney (1961-1963)
Leo Bovin (1963-1966)
Johnny Bucyk (1966-1977)
Wayne Cashman (1977-1983)
Terry O’Reilly (1983-1985)
Rick Middleton (1985-1988)
Raymond Bourque (1985-2000)
Jason Allison (2000-2001)
Joe Thornton (2002-2006)
Zdeno Chara (2006-2020)
Patrice Bergeron (2021-Current)
Just a quick read through that list and you can see the legendary names that pop up. Among those names, seven have had their numbers retired by the Bruins (Hitchman #3, Clapper #5, Bucyk #9, Schmidt #15, O’Reilly #24, Bourque #77, and Middleton #16). I do believe #33 will join the rafters up in TD Garden someday into the future as well.
Prior to Chara, Joe Thornton, now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, wore the “C”. Thornton was drafted by the B’s with the first selection of the 1997 NHL Draft, playing in 532 regular-season games, amassing 169-285-454 numbers in his 8-year tenure. Before him, Jason Allison, an 11-year NHL vet captained the Bruins for only one season in 2000-01.
Ray Bourque is often considered as one of the best defensemen to ever play the game and rightfully so, scoring over 1500 career points – winning the James Norris Trophy five times. Bourque led the B’s as captain from 1985 all the way until 2000. While he was never able to hoist Lord Stanley in a Bruins uniform, he did get that ring with the Colorado Avalanche at the end of his career.
Rick Middleton, the most recent Bruin to have his number honoured, was one of the most talented players in the 80s and was a well-deserved captain of the team. Terry O’Reilly was, and to many people, still is the true definition of ‘Big Bad Bruins Hockey’ as his tough, physical style was perfect for his teammates to rally behind.
Johnny Bucyk is another Bruins icon as he was the captain for both the 1970 and 1972 Bruins Stanley Cup victories and has gone down as one of the best players and goal-scorers from that era. Bucyk has also continually remained a member of the Boston organization even to the present day.
Milt Schmidt played for the Bruins in every one of his 16 NHL seasons from 1936-37 to 1954-55, winning two Stanley Cups and the 1950-51 Hart Memorial Trophy during that time. Schmidt passed away in 2017, but left this world as one of the early superstars to lace the skates for the Black and Gold.
Dit Clapper became the first player in league history to play in 20 seasons, all of them with the Bruins. Out of those 20 years, he was a captain in 14 of them – becoming the first and to this date, only Bruins player to be a player for three Boston Stanley Cups (1929, 1939, 1941). Clapper was also extremely versatile, finding great success at both the right-wing and defense positions.
Finally, Lionel Hitchman, the second captain in Boston Bruins history and the first captain to win a Cup with the team, was a true defensive-defenceman. Playing with fellow Bruins great Eddie Shore on the blueline, Hitchman would not shy from skating in the entire 60-minute game and was so valuable to that Boston team that he finished second in the Hart Memorial race for league MVP in the 1929-30 season.
Patrice Bergeron is now among these players and he already is one of the best players to ever play for the team. His on and off-ice work ethic and dedication to the sport while being the classiest guy at all times make him the absolute perfect choice to represent the entire franchise. Everyone respects Bergeron and it’s that greatness that solidifies him with these other legends that I have gone over.
Congratulations, Patrice. Welcome into Boston Bruins immortality.