By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
On the 21st, Bruins Alum Brian Rolston will be celebrating his 49th birthday. Rolston played 17 seasons in the NHL, with six of those seasons playing for the Boston Bruins. Rolston also played for the New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, and New York Islanders before retiring with the Boston Bruins in 2012.
Rolston managed to play 1,256 games in his career, scoring 342 goals and had 419 assists for 761 points. Rolston was also able to win a Stanley Cup in 1995 with the Devils and make the All-Star Game in 2007. Since Rolston is celebrating his 49th birthday today, let’s look back at Rolston’s successful career in the NHL.
Winning the Stanley Cup at a Young Age
With the 11th overall pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils selected Brian Rolston. However, Rolston wouldn’t debut in the NHL until the ’94-’95 season. In his first season with the Devils, Rolston played in 40 games and tallied 18 points. Rolston and his teammates rolled into the playoffs and secured New Jersey’s first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
The following season, the Devils looked to repeat as Champions; however, they failed to make the postseason. Nonetheless, Rolston’s play improved as he produced 24 points in 58 games during the ’95-’96 season. The crafty two-way forward would play three more seasons with New Jersey before being dealt away to Colorado.
On November 3rd, 1999, the Devils traded away Rolston and a first-round draft pick (2000) to the Colorado Avalanche for a first-round draft pick (2000), second-round draft pick (2000), and Claude Lemieux. For now, Rolston’s career with New Jersey was done, and he looked to keep things going in Colorado. However, just when Rolston was getting comfortable in Colorado, he was getting ready to be dealt away again.
On March 6th, 2000, just days before the trade deadline, Rolston was about to be a part of one of the biggest trades in NHL history. Rolston, Martin Grenier, Samuel Pahlsson, and a first-round pick in 2000 were being sent to Boston for Dave Andreychuk and Ray Bourque. It was a shock for most of the hockey world to see Bourque be traded from Boston, but it was a new start for Rolston in a new city.
Rolston’s Time in Boston
After a trade that stunned the hockey world, Rolston played the last 16 games of the ’99-’00 season with Boston and managed to put up nine points. The following season, Rolston was able to play an entire season with Boston and put up the best numbers of his career to this point. Rolston found the back of the net 19 times and assisted on 39 goals for 58 points.
In his next season, though, Rolston would put up the best numbers that he’d have while in Boston. He played all 82 games scored 31 goals and 31 assists to get 62 points. Those numbers put him in the running for the Selke Trophy, but he would end up finishing fifth. The eventual winner was Michael Peca from the Islanders. On top of an impressive ’01-’02 season, Rolston was first in shorthanded goals, third in total shots, and seventh in game-winning goals.
Career Numbers in Minnesota
Rolston would dawn the Black and Gold for two more seasons before being a free agent in 2004. On July 8th, 2004, Rolston was signed by the Minnesota Wild. It was a significant loss for Boston and a massive gain for Minnesota. Unfortunately, Rolston would have to wait until the ’05-’06 season to debut with the Wild due to the NHL lockout during the ’04-’05 season. In his first season with the WIld, Rolston made a tremendous impact. He set a new career-high in points with 79 scored 34 goals and 45 assists.
The following season, during ’06-’07, Rolston scored three goals (one on a penalty shot and two in overtime shootouts), using a slapshot from the slot. He was selected for the 2006–07 NHL Western Conference All-Star Team, which would be his only All-Star appearance in his career. During the game, Rolston scored two goals and added two assists.
Rolston’s shot is also known for making Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere duck for cover during a game in the 2007–08 season when Rolston fired a slapshot from the right-wing aiming for the top left corner of the net. Giguère ducked to avoid being hit in the mask, resulting in a goal for Rolston.
In a similar event during the 2006–07 NHL season, Rolston fired a slapshot on Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. The shot hit Luongo in the mask, and though unhurt, Luongo was dazed for minutes, lying on the ice until the team’s trainer confirmed he was okay to continue the game. Rolston would later score on a penalty shot using his slapshot in the same game against Luongo.
End of Career
At the end of the ’07-’08 season, Rolston’s contract in Minnesota was up. On June 29th, 2008, Rolston’s negotiating rights were traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in return for a conditional draft pick in 2009 or 2010. After failing to agree to a contract with the Lightning, Rolston became a free agent the next day on July 1st, 2008, and signed a four-year, $20 million contract to return to the New Jersey Devils. Rolston was nearing the end of his career but was still putting up good numbers. In his next three seasons with New Jersey, Rolston played in 209 games, scored 49 goals, and picked up 54 assists. Rolston even helped the Devils make a playoff run in ’08-’09 and ’09-’10, but both times were eliminated in the first round.
In the offseason of 2011, the Devils traded Rolston to the New York Islanders for Trent Hunter. In reaction to the trade, Rolston was quoted by The Star-Ledger as saying, “It’s been a bit of a rough ride in Jersey; I’m actually happy to go to a place that wants me. I just want to start new. I’m actually really happy about the change… I saw it coming. There was no blindside here. It was something we discussed from the end of the season and into the summer.” However, Rolston only got to play 49 games with the Islanders due to his poor performance.
Rolston only scored nine points for the Islanders and was then traded to Boston with Mike Mottau for Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin. In his last season with the Bruins, Rolston had 15 points, including three goals and 12 assists. In the postseason, Rolston would also add another goal and two assists, but he and the rest of his team were eliminated in the first round by the Washington Capitals.
On April 30th, 2013, Brian Rolston announced his retirement from the NHL. Rolston finally ended his career with his last game coming in the postseason of 2012 with the Bruins. At the end of his career, Rolston played 1,256 career games, scored 342 goals, and assisted on 419 goals for 761 career points. He was also a Stanley Cup Winner in 1995 with the Devils and an NHL All-Star in 2007 with the Minnesota Wild.
So, Brian Rolston, wherever you may be today, myself along with the entire BNG Hockey Organization, wish you a Happy 49th Birthday!